Google Adwords Quality Score - Set to Pilage and Plunder


Over the weekend when I mentioned the mystery factor causing price gouging on adwords. Some of you who participated in the thread clearly didn't get the problem. This morning when I logged in I had large bunches of keywords that were turned off due to low quality. To help you understand what I'm talking about here's a screen shot (keywords sanitized)


So in the screen shot we're looking at two keywords that were running in premium positions with double digit CTR. Suddenly these premium position ads have become low quality and have had their bid prices jacked up to $1.00 and $5.00! How do you go from premium position to low quality overnight? How can you justify the price doubling or increasing by a factor of 10 overnight?

I don't think I'm violating any TOS but if I am can someone drop me a PM.


The other side of the coin. an AdSense publisher I am getting larger than normal fluctuations in eCPC over the last few days

Can you provide the landing

Can you provide the landing pages too ?

landing page


I'll tell you over month it averages out to about 12%, and no it's not an arbitrage keyword

Probably right about adsense

I'm seeing better numbers in adsense as well. Seems like my numbers were down the last couple of months. Maybe they are "turning the nob" because they need more advertisers? Or are losing advertisers?

Maybe they are "turning the

Maybe they are "turning the nob" because they need more advertisers? Or are losing advertisers?

You mean publishers, David.

Graywolf: It's a big shift, from so little to $5, indeed. But I just wanted to have a look at the landing page. That's all.

Can you provide the login?

Send me a msg if you'd rather not post here. This doesn't seem to quite add up, and I'd like to check myself.


You're right, GrayWolf, that

You're right, GrayWolf, that doesn't make sense. Even a clickthrough rate of 4% is considered good.

It makes me wonder, though, if Google is looking at your Converstion rate of 0% in the right most column and determining that since "nobody is converting, the landing page must be bad."

Maybe this is how Google will force advertisors to use their conversion code on their conversion pages...

Is it Possible...

Is it possible that your CTR was too good? I know this sounds crazy, but maybe Google sees your double-digit CTR and considers it low quality because you are far outside of the standard CTR curve. I believe they actually use this on the publisher's end as a way to flag possible abuse...maybe you are just too good with your adwords?

I know what happened

They have updated their landing page algo, and those with low quality landing pages - ie. those that provide a poor user experience - will see their ads inactivated and need to meet the new - and higher - minimum bid in order for them to be active again. I think this is targeting those doing click arbitrage (was the landing page pretty ad heavy?).

AdWords blog:

Any my comments on it:

They were starting the new landing page algo this week, which could explain why you saw it this morning.

so graywolf

do you feel lucky .. is you landing page quailty or not ??


Prepared for 2Q? NO!

GOOG must be panicking wrt the earning estimates it must meet by ~July 22 :-)

Landing page

The landing page is not an arbitrage page, it's a single product with descrption and a buy now button. The buy now button goes through a redirect page (for my tracking) and then onto the merchant. Since it's an affiliate product getting them to put the google conversion tracking code is not an option, and to be perfectly honest shouldn't enter into the equation.

Not everything in the adgroup was deactivated there were 25 keywords 17 went inactive. The CPC for the ones still running are way up today almost double what it normally is. Can't blame that entirely on Google as some ding-nut is over bidding on single word term underneath me. The whole thing looks fishy to me. Sent an email over to adwords this morning no word back yet.

yo gray

I this the same account that you have lower converting stuff on?

I have straight up landing pages that just alter a bit and they bids are all less then 10 cents still for over 30k keywords.

I dont know if I am just lucky or if I am getting a pass for some reason

Conversion ratio

I only use the google conversion thing on one ad for an ebook I sell (just to test how it works really).

The CTR for some of my better ad groups are high single digits and low double digits, the CTR on some of my less than stellar adgroups is fairly abysmal. THis is what I was talking about when I said they should tell you exactly what they are looking for, if I knew what was broken I'd stop bitching about it and go fix it.

I have deactivated keywords

I have deactivated keywords with a CTR about 20 % ... my bids are 0,15 €. To activate them I have to pay between 0,42 and 8,42 €. That´s not possbible with a positive ROI. Yesterday their were 8 ads for this keywords, now only 2 ads ... So I am not alone.

The thing is, high ctr

The thing is, high ctr doesn't point to a good landing page. It points to a good ad.

A low conversion rate would point to a poor landing page. It looks like your conversion rate is 0.0% on all of your ads (if I am reading your picture correctly)

It seems to me that looking at ctr is the wrong thing to look at.

same here

I'm having the exact same ridiculous issue. I have many of my keywords disabled today. These keywords have CTR from 50% to 5% and I was the highest bidder, and most clicked ad for most of these keywords. Now I must increase my bid to $1.00 -- funny thing is my competitors ads are still showing. I don't get it! This is not an arbitrage page or even a landing page. It's a product website and a very helpful one at that!

I don't agree that the issue is conversion. There would be no reason for them to need that data. It's none of their business anyway.

What is Quality

Agreed so if they don't have conversion data how are they assessing quality?

Looking at stats for the past month aprox numbers

1400 people clicked on the advertisement
780 clicked the buy button

More shut off

So I just got back from the library with the kids and more premium advertsing is shutting off. These stats are from today only, clearly something is messed up


Did you ask..

Graywolf, in your e-mail to Adwords did you ask them the question of how a landing page can improve in quality if the only change is the increased cost per click?

Keyword Reputation

How long have you had those keywords active?

What is perverse about this

Is that Google seems perfectly content to sit there and say, "We don't think that your landing page meets our quality guidelines, but we will sacrifice quality for the right price."

Good thing that is just slimy, not evil.


I have had these keywords running for over 2 years.

Maybe google is counting how

Maybe Google is counting how many people hit the back button or who click another ad. It's the obvious way to measure quality without looking at the landing page.

In fact if they are, this move will cost them money, as they are trying to get the user to click less ads. Rather commendable I'd say :) - not quite the slimy trick that it seems.

"Maybe this is how Google

"Maybe this is how Google will force advertisors to use their conversion code on their conversion pages..."

i hope not or im screwed, our cutomers need to call a number.

Been using AdWords for over 2 years, not seen any established keywords go inactive. I have conversion tracking switched off. I also have a lot of keywords in double figure CTR - increased even more since i started using ad scheduling – maybe I’ll be next to be hit as our landing pages look much worse than our competitors, but then we are targeting chavs.

Bad to Worse

SlyOldDog I've got over 50% clicking the buy button (not all of them complete the transaction) but there's no way Google would know that.

Just got an email from the affilaite manager wanting to know why I'm outbidding them which I'm not supposed to do (I turned one of the $5 ones on). If that's was the intent that was very very clever and exceptionally evil.

With all these higher bid prices someone is going to make a killing with click fraud ...

Google BS answer

Hello Michael,

Thank you for your email regarding your Quality Score. I am unable to
provide you with specific reasons why your Quality Score may have been
affected. I have reviewed your account and can confirm that you have had a
very good CTR. However, Quality Score takes into consideration your
keyword's clickthrough rate on Google, the relevance of ad text,
historical keyword performance, landing page quality, and other relevancy
factors. Some Quality Score changes were made recently with regard to
landing page quality. Again, I can't speak to the specifics of how this
has affected you. However, for more information on landing page quality
please see:

If you have additional questions, please visit our Help Center at to find answers to many frequently
asked questions. Or, try our Learning Center at for self-paced lessons that
cover the scope of AdWords.

We look forward to providing you and your clients with the most effective
advertising available.


The Google AdWords Agency Team

I'm telling you

This has nothign to do about quality of pages. This has every thing to do with trying -- desperately; at the point of sacrificing long-term, high-paying advertisers -- to keep up with unreasonable market expectations that is the ONLY thing keeping the stock above $150.

This is about further galvanizing a failed business model, all in the name of just a few more months of stock liquidity so that the top dogs can file more selling of insider stock.

Is the only way to "comply"

Is the only way to "comply" to up the cost per click?

I'm really curious to see what happens if the only change you make is to use their conversion metric thing...

I guess

we'll never know if "self correction" really works. They need to shore up revenue for thier invalid click partners, some will be sleeping very well tonite.


I've had 5 adgroups deactivated to the point of being useless, or jacked up to the point of being unprofitable. Here's something I noticed when looking at who's bidding now


for a second adgroup

Me (overpaying and outbidding the merchant)

could be entirely coincidental but a there were a 3-6 affilaites also bidding on those keywords who were wiped out.

Graywolf I am indeed

Graywolf I am indeed affected by what's happening to you and not only.

This is such a big shift from what it was 7 days ago, and what's now .. If you were to aproximate what would it take ($$) for you to be where you where 7 days ago, what would that be ?

On the other hand, arbitrage is dead I think, if this goes on and prolonges itself.

Not Profitable

Currently the way things are it's not profitable to continue using adwords.

natural rank impact maybe?

I'm wondering if the quality score is impacted but your natural rank because I'm assuming your high conversion one page site does not rank naturally.

natural rank

The PPC pages have no links to them from the outside the only way in is through the ad. So when you reach the page you either click the "buy button" or you back out.

Are they indexed ?

Are they indexed ?

not indexed

nope not indexed.


The most bassackwards part of this is that advertisers are feeling this more than the arbitragers. In fact, I've seen an (possibly unrelated) uptick in volume and EPC's this week on my arbitrage stuff. Sounds a lot like the Average Webmaster getting most of the shaft when they go after the Black Hats...

If they would just focus on the quality of the core product and let us play in the fringes, they'd be doing a whole lot better than arrogantly trying to outsmart everyone algorithmically. And I say that as both a fond user of Google, an advertiser, a publisher, and an SEO.

The thing is I would argue

The thing is I would argue arbitragers are more sophisticated than the avg. AdWords customer and they might actually benefit from the people who are forced to increase bids, because if there is one thing that makes up for "quality" it is money.

Google is getting Greedy.

They are starting to look like the arrogant pricks at LTCM, wait until 3 seperate 3 standard deviation events occur.

Checking no. of returned users

Maybe Google is counting how many people hit the back button or who click another ad. It's the obvious way to measure quality without looking at the landing page.

So when you reach the page you either click the "buy button" or you back out.

I think SlyOldDog maybe onto something there. You're right Greywolf, they can't see how many click the buy now button but they can check these other factors. Could a 45% back-out figure be taken as an unsatisfactory user experience?

Single Page Views

Having a landing page where the only option is to buy or bail would fit the "thin affiliate" and MFA standard MO. One could make the argument that it's also smart marketing but probably not something that you'd see on a fortune 500 website. It's one of the factors I'm playing with.


I'd be interested to know if that makes a difference (not making it a single landing page with no other outbound links) - would seem logical since that would seem like a good indicator of "thin affiliate", especially on a site that's not indexed.

Meet the new boss

I do think that this basic change is crap. Google once again pulls away from it's roots and throws up more barriers to transparency. This 'I can't tell you what 'landing page quality is' even though it affects your campaign very directly is NOT the Google of old. It reeks of beauracracy and old boys network. This type of opaqueness is what I'd expect of traditional media. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Regardless, the changes have made no negative affect on my campaigns.

Bogus clicks

click in and click out.... could this be a way of driving up your competitors bid price then. We know there are ways of discounting multiple clicks but on financial services websites for example random competitor clicking has always gone on and could this now have a secondary negative impact.

Lets face it £6 per random click even twice a day 7 days a week costs serious money when ten competitors are doing it, if the bid price is pushed up through click in and click out.. what is the ceiling? And does this then price out the last of the small companies.

Buy now or back out perhaps isnt a good way of evaluating the quality of a landing page.

New System has Stolen my Livelihood!

Google's new quality score has destroyed my affiliate livelihood. My .19 cent average click price is replaced with disabled ads. I must bid $5.00 to $10.00 just to re-activate. IM FINISHED!

After one hour on the phone with their support staff, they told me that they spidered my landing pages and received low scores. Of course they refused to tell me how to fix it.

It was not arbitrage pages, but rather an affiliate page (with good content!). Can anyone suggest how to improve the landing pages? Should I have multiple non-affiliate links and lower the number of affiliate links? How do they assess criteria for a thin-affiliate page?


You don't want to hear this

...but take your dollars elsewhere. If they don't want your money, they don't want your money. Yes it'll hurt, and bad, but if enough people walk, then Google hurts too. And maybe reconsiders.


I'm not sure what the overall impact this new change will have on the bottom line. We'll have to wait a few days until we can determine the fall-out. However, I suspect that it may force a lot of small business owners to go elswhere.
I hope that GOogle tweaks it so that it is at least affordable. I don't mind paying a LITTLE more, but don't want to be 100% driven out.

I'm out!

After going round and round with google's email support I basically gave up and paused all of my campaigns indefinitely. You can only take so many canned responses. The rep was not listening to my argument that the quality score is not working correctly. They are affecting good advertisers while leaving only the ebays and the aol's displaying their generic, non-relevant ads.

If google doesn't want my money, fine. I will go elsewhere. I'm a small advertiser. $70,000 a year in PPC may not be a lot to them, but I know there are many more in my situation and if we all ban together, we can show google that WE are not to be ignored and brushed off.

Me too

I had to pause my entire campaign also. Plus, this morning I did a quick search on the ads I used to run where I was competing with maybe 20+ others. There is almost nobody left there other than some irrelevant ebay ad and a few major department stores which also have an irrelevant landing page.

I would assume that shutting out a lot of the small to intermediate advertisers is going to Google more than they anticipated.

It's fall!

It's fall season in Google money-tree land and the leaves are starting to drop :).

In other news, Yahoo and MSN are providing leaf raking services.

Been hit too.. Ad is for a

Been hit too..

Ad is for a premium rate phone service, keywords are "Keyword calls" "keyword lines" etc. Landing page has no AdSense, no aff stuff, but text and a phone number - our ad clearly states what our premium rate service is and converts well.

this site has held 1st spot for several keywords for the last 2 years – now suddenly the site isn’t good enough and the minimum bid is now £5.5 , was bidding £0.2

If this isn’t about making more money for Google, then surely my page isn’t good enough no matter how much i bid.

The landing page is not an

The landing page is not an arbitrage page, it's a single product with descrption and a buy now button. The buy now button goes through a redirect page (for my tracking) and then onto the merchant. Since it's an affiliate product getting them to put the google conversion tracking code is not an option, and to be perfectly honest shouldn't enter into the equation.

Don't use adwords much at all so I could be off on the workings of this... but couldn't you put the conversion analysis code on that redirect page? This may not be the real quality score issue but perhaps it would be something that would have otherwise helped.

Landing Page

From my testing the actual landing page itself plays a minor role in the calculation of "quality".

Yes I tried puting the conversion code up, and I don't know how long it would take to factor in but there's no way I could have continued losing money the way I was to find out.

Tried putting the same

Tried putting the same landing page on an authority domain (in the eyes of G search)? Or was it already on one?

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