Google AdWords Quality Score Problems


According to a report, many Google AdWords advertisers are waking up to find a shocker with their Google AdWords accounts.

Improve your Quality Score or Raise your bid to $1.00, $5.00 or $10.00!

I personally logged into a few accounts and noticed that for a keyword phrase that gets a 5 percent CTR I'm being told that I must pay a minimum bid of $10.00 per click.

Apparently I'm not the only one having major issues with Google AdWords and their quality score right now...



Getting some ridiculous stuff at the moment too.

0.10 keyword - 4%+ CTR - Please improve your quality or raise bid to 2.50

Yup, me too

I've been hit with $10 minimum bids for a new campaign today. The campaign has highly targeted keywords for a quality landing page. It should tick all the right boxes. No possible reason for QS penalty - not that that's stopped Google hiking bids before...

The sad thing is unless

The sad thing is unless someone can give Google some real competition, I don't see this price gouging stopping anytime soon.

Another me too.

Another me too.

59,000 clicks, 5.67 CTR, Avg CPC £0.59, they now want £2.50 to turn it back on.

I've heard it may in fact be

I've heard it may in fact be a technical issue. Try calling your AdWords reps, and see what they have to say

Yet Again

Shockingly I was hit again although not as hard as before. I have to say the whole thing is really rather annoying more than anything else.

It's telling how...

...everyone *sighs* and assumes it's another arbitrary QS penalty from Google.

Funny thing is, if I run a Report on inactive keywords, none of the keywords disabled today show up. It's wiped out 1000s of my keywords, just before the weekend and Google UK shut up shop at 6pm. I still find it astonishing that Google don't offer AdWords support 24/7.

Frankly I don't find

Frankly I don't find anything Google does shocking anymore.


We had 1 keyword that normally enjoys a 17% ctr (unheard of for adwords), an 8% conversion rate that is tracked by google analytics and adwords conversion tracking, well optimized page with over 500 words of unique content. Just everything you could do. Got hit with a "raise your bid to..."

The strangest part, however, is that it has seemed to ignore keywords that you would expect to be penalized and hit keywords that you would not expect. Just strange.

I'm hoping it is a tech issue

There is talk of google adding a quality score column by the end of the week, It may be related.

Had ads running for an item that sells for £1.50. I need to raise bids to £2.50 to get it going again

Oh btw, The keywords that have been marked inactive is the exact name of the item.

Worst I've Seen

This is the worst example I've seen so far. Company bids on their own company name:

- company name is keyword
- Increase quality or bid $10.00 to activate
- average CPC is $.06 cents
- CTR is 25.92%

The company has been bidding on their company name for years now...


I got a little bump for my own name $0.40 to $0.50 cents, kind of funny I'm able to bid less on Dave Pasternack's name than my own


Just goes to show who is "higher quality"? I'm still trying to figure out if there's some correlation between the requirements to pay higher and the type of keywords.

From what I'm seeing, most of the misspellings (misspelled keywords) are being flagged with a $5 or $10 penalty while the same keyword (not misspelled) is not getting flagged. I'm seeing this in several accounts, perhaps part of this is a crackdown on misspellings. But again, I'm also seeing other weird examples, like the company name one.

finding the same thing

with the misspellings.

Also a strange thing with singular and plurals where the plural is fine and the singular is inactive eg. red widget is inactive for search and needs to be raised to £5 and red widgets is fine for a 20p bid.

Not seeing split between correct and misspellings

These are perfectly good keywords - not even terms that you would expect UK spelling to be different to US.

Ours appear to be flagged with £2.50 or £5.00

Is on a campaign that has recently been restructured.

Little Effect

No new inactive keywords for me but seems the ad positions are affected a bit...Anyway from the comments this seems a UK specific issue?

Not a UK Issue

It's definitely not a UK issue...although there are quite a few people who are giving examples in £ rather than US dollars. I've spoken to several people here in the USA that are as equally concerned with the recent update.

It's not the QS update

AdWordsAdvisor/Rep posted over on WmW and SEW a couple of hours ago that this is not the anticipated QS update, but is a tech issue that is being worked on. Appears that after they get the fix put in it will take a bit of time to propagate over the system.

AdWords is broken

I'll me too this, too. Haven't seen much impact from previous QS updates. This one's peculiar. I'm seeing 2 keywords, both at a current bid of 21 cents, "inactive for search" today. One with CTR of only 0.31% now needs 30 cents to be active. One with a reasonable historical CTR of 1.74% has been hit with the $10 min bid. Very similar keywords (and both exact matches) in the same ad group with the same landing page. Volume is lower on the $10 min bid one, but not trivial.

I'm lost on this update.

I'm lost on this update. Very old account, 8% CTR, and widget has a $0.10 minimum bid while widgets has a $10.00 minimum bid. Not doing too much damage, just annoying and seemingly random.

As for a technical glitch, I doubt it. I've found that the reps at Google are clueless 99% of the time.

AdSense affected by this too?

Today, my website's traffic amounted to 80% of the traffic I got during December 2006. Yet the gain from AdSense doesn't reflect this. If the advertisers have to pay more, how come I'm earning less in a little more than half a month, compared to the whole of December!?!


I posted this on WMW too.

I posted this on WMW too. It's my thoughts on the update now that I've looked through things.

It looks like a way of pushing out advertisers who are doing too well on low bids in a particular search. These updates essentially allow them to maximize profits for each particular search.

Anyways, this is an example:

Advertiser A
10% CTR $0.10 CPC $0.01/search

Advertiser B
2% CTR $0.25 CPC $0.005/search

Advertiser C
4% CTR $0.20 CPC $0.008/search

Total Search Value to Google = $0.023/search

On first glance, it would be in the best interest of Google to put Advertiser A on top. With all things equal, Advertiser A will make the most per search. Overall, Google makes $0.023 per search. But this doesn't take into effect the impact Advertiser A has on the CTR of Advertiser B and C.

So lets say you eliminate Advertiser A from equation as they have the best CTR, but lowest overall bid price. Everyone else's CTR goes up as you just eliminated a CTR hog from the first page.

Advertiser B
5% CTR $0.25 CPC $0.0125/search

Advertiser C
8% CTR $0.20 CPC $0.016/search

Total Search Value to Google = $0.0285/search

It's an improvement of $0.0055 per search on that result. While very minor, if you do it across every account and every search, it can bring huge profits in to Google.

It's the most logical explanation and if you really look through your accounts. There is no other reason "buy red widgets" would cost $5 and "red widgets" would cost $0.10. Does the quality of your site, ads, etc suddenly decrease 50 times over with the addition of 1 word to the phrase? Of course not. It's simple statistics and their way of maximizing every search possible.

But I don't think the formula is as simple as above. I think they do take into account history, spend, and other factors in determining which search phrases you may be hurting them on profit wise. I also have no doubt that on-site factors do play a role in it as well (albeit smaller than most people realize). Consider it a penalty of sorts for being too good at playing their system. It's like a blackjack table in Vegas. The minute you start cutting into their profits, you're out the door.

As for the "technical glitch", I call BS. A company the size of Google doesn't make "technical glitches" that effect nearly their entire advertiser base on accident. The update had been planned, people knew about it, and even the reps on the phone seem to know what was going on. I don't have a problem with Google doing what they need to do to maximize their profits, but don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining.

don't piss on my leg and tell me it's raining

I don't know why, but that really struck my funnybone :-) Agree with your thoughts too.

I have a 14% CTR blocked -

I have a 14% CTR blocked - being told to increase from 0.70 to 5.00

E-mail reply from Google saying they are 'having problems and are looking into it'.

At least I got a reply.


Back when I worked for da' man and we pushed out a bad piece of code we rolled it back, instead of just telling the customers 'yeah we're working on it' and charging you more because we screwed up

re: rollback

Did your bad piece of code have the potential to make millions by extending the wait just a few hours?

Great observations MrTurner!

yup, google is sooo smart

yup, google is sooo smart that they never makes mistakes and thus this must be intentional after all google is also sooo evil. they stay up late at night plotting evil things. isnt it a great benefit for google to automatically raise the bids on keywords which makes the keywords inactive and thus makes no money for google. i'm sure google is raking in the money as people will blindly raise their bids from pennies to dollars just to get their campaigns back online. i blindly raised my bids from $.50 to $10, didn't you? the money they make from this glitch will surely outway the negative press they are now receiving. i tell ya google must be the top of evil geniuses to come up with this conspiracy.

>automatically raise the

>automatically raise the bids on keywords which makes the keywords inactive and thus makes no money for google

I don't think you quite get it. Only a small number of accounts were affected by this glitch, life and Google's revenue carried on regardless. What a great way to collect data though, imagine in your business you could increase your prices and see how many bit at the new rate, all without impacting your revenue.


well I haven't raised my prices since I don't know if I was really affected or glitch affected, so I sit in limbo with less ads running, sigh

I doubt if many raisesd there bids

due to the massive increases.

oh btw

Things are just about normal for me now, I assume it's the same for others?

Yes - Back to normal here

That's one job off my Monday morning list.

"so I sit in limbo" - like that will ever happen

so I sit in limbo

graywolf taking this sitting down? hehehehe come on and be honest how many other projects have you worked on since this whole snafu started? if you were andy the king of laziness, then i might believe you. but i just cant imagine my favorite link whore taking anything sitting down.

on a side note - it does create a sorta funny conflict of interest for ad agencies who are supposed to do right for the advertiser but also earn % of the ad spend. it is in their best interest to convince the advertisers that they should up their bids to $10.


>but i just cant imagine my favorite link whore taking anything sitting down

I did what any linking whore would do, I went out wrote a post about this very subject and got on the homepage of digg ...

Google system flaws - but they can't admit it...

Most of my accounts went back to normal today but some which were affected by the same issue previously (high minimum bids for very specific high CTR phrases) are still inactive. We've been through all the rationale offered by Google and examined all the evidence we can uncover and have come to a simple conclusion.

This system is fundamentally flawed. The lack of human intervention means that automated suspension of keywords can ruin perfectly good accounts and there's no escape except to pay Google's ransom and hope that the minimum bids reduce with time (we've tried this and seen precious little evidence that it does). If Google were to admit that this was a flaw they'd liekyl be open to massive lawsuit from advertisers trying to recoup the money they've wasted.

Google need to do one of two things - either admit the flaw and fix it, which they won't do for the reason above (a fix would be an admission of guilt...) or give us guarantees that minimum bids will come down, timescales so we can plan extra budget and refunds of budget spent at positions we don't want (the system foces you to go #1).

One of my clients now views Google as nothing more than a bunch of thieves, claiming that they are trying to steal his advertising budget. Of course I tried to calm him down but really I have to agree - it's nothing more than ransom although the Googlebots at customer service assure you it's not a bug, it's a feature.

Sorry for the rambling, just really hating Google at the moment, can't we all start a campaign to get MSN, Yahoo, Ask, etc bigger market share? :-)

Google says it was an

Google says it was an accident and they will be issuing refunds

I like this part:

I like this part:

Will this happen again? Our engineers have been working tirelessly to understand why this issue occurred and to ensure that the proper measures are in place so that this is not repeated in the future.

The system has a mind of it's own, and it runs free. The Ph.D.s follow it, and try to figure out why it did what it did. Skynet? Who said Skynet?

STILL not fixed...

Here it is the 22nd and it's still going on..

Created an account just to share with others that this hasn't been fixed yet for everybody. I've been screwed since this all started on a number of ad campaigns. One saw pretty everything (high traffic and low traffic) go from sub $1.00 USD CPC to a dollar and the other is now demanding everything be $5.00 USD CPC.

I've heard from a lot of people this issue was fixed for most but it's still crippling 90% of my advertising and a few of my good friends businesses as well. What are you suppose to do? Holding us ransom here..

Now it's $5.00 a click or the highway! Google tells me to pay up

So I got an email from Google about the recent change over of -all my terms- to either 1.00USD per click or 5.00USD per click and it's apparently my problem now. I got a long email from them (AdWords Support AKA:

) explaining why one of my terms (out of around hundred for all the ads effected) jumped from .25 cents a click to five dollars. Basically since it's an abbreviation of an industrial term it's entirely too vague to list for anything less then 5.00 USD per click. All my other keywords go unexplained, who knows why quoted direct keywords jumped? The email goes on to explain the reason why I didn't see this before now and was "getting away with" a quarter a click is because they've:

"AdWords has re-evaluated the Quality Scores for these keywords and found that their quality has decreased. Again, lower quality scores result in an increase in your minimum bids.."

Even though in the same email they tell me:

"please be assured that we don't directly raise keyword costs."

So what I'm getting from this is since they "investigated" my account and found that my "quality" has decreased they've been forced to raise my CPC to 5.00 USD? IS that how you "don't directly raise keyword costs"? I haven't changed my advertising campaigns with them at all since I started using their services. (when a quarter a click was an introductory rate I guess) When everybody else started having problems I was nice and figured I too was affected and things would return to normal after time. Days go by and I finally decide to get more verbal about my problems and now I guess they're tired of me because it's my problem now. The email goes on to explain that I should:

"try our Learning Center at for self-paced lessons that cover the scope of AdWords."

Because apparently they didn't feel the need to read my email stating I've been not only through all there learning center lessons to make sure I didn't do something wrong, but consulted and read pretty much their entire help section before emailing them. My favorite part after not solving any of my problems, stone walling my company on a number of questions I asked but got no answer to, is this lovely part at the end:

” We look forward to providing you with the most effective advertising available.”

Really? Is that how it is? I’ve been using the same exact ad’s and keywords with MS adCenter and not had any problem yet, actually there service was working great before a 5.00 dollar min. cost per click was brought in before I’d get ANY advertising at all from them. If you’re interested in using adWords and are reading there webpage it says that you can control how much you want to spend in a day and how much you want to pay for a click. There phone reps sell the service as, hell even if you only want to pay 10 cents a click and don’t mind being in the back of the line then that’s fine with them! NO WHERE can I find a section that says “once we investigate your well performing account you may or may not be held ransom at a min 5.00 USD a click before receiving any services at all”.

This is bullsh-t. And you know what? Funny enough after I received this email and logged back into my adWords account I’ve found that almost all my terms have been raised to a new all time high. The ones they wanted me to pay a dollar for pre email? NOW it’s five dollars. I guess that’s more of there “keyword re-evaluation and indirect price changing” at work. You know I’ve really liked Google as a company and have never had this type of problem with them but I guess that’s because I limited the amount of financial wraith they could hold on myself or my companies. Here use our services, like the prices, get an assload of hits and business, budget that in, good you got it? BAM! thanks for having an account with us that’s performing well, now pay FIVE DOLLARS a click or don’t get any advertising from us.

Guess they won’t mind then when I don’t use there services anymore because I’m appalled at there customer service responses, let alone having the service I pay them for all a sudden being held at ransom.

Oh and just for note it's the 24th this all started on the 16th.


Did you ever resolve your problem with your Adwords? I started having the same problems about 1 1/2 Months ago. One day all my keywords had a bad poor quality score. I called Google about 5 times and talked to their $5.00hr works.Their customer service is the worst I have ever delt with. Google purposely tells them nothing, and they won't let you talk to a supervisor. My CTR was the highest ever was, I believe this is why they made my keywords Inactive. They told me that my landing page was poor. I changed the landing pages to their guidelines, which is vague. The person on the phone couldn't tell me how it should look.
Anyway, about a Month later I was getting OK and Great for Most of my Keywords. That lasted two weeks, and then again my keywords have gone inactive again.
Funny thing is that my product name is considered Poor and I must pay $5.00. I do a search and my competitors are right on Top, I doubt they are paying $5.00.
I have another site that is the same product, so added another campaign pointing to that site, using the same keywords. That campaign has the keywords with Great and OK. But since the site is new and has no history I'm not showing up as high as the other campaign.
Basically, I believe GOOGLE is trying to get more money.

I USE get many sales from google compared to Yahoo and MSN. Does anyone have alternative that has worked for them?

It's Alive!

The system has a mind of it's own, and it runs free. The Ph.D.s follow it, and try to figure out why it did what it did.

level setting

not sure that this applies to you, SportsMan, but the following analysis is still well worth your time for reading:

MSSA Penalty Explained

although DG was raising this issue in regards to organic rankings, it holds true with AdWords as well - the quality score algo is sniffing out the same stuff.

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