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Keyword Evaluation Changes at Google Adwords

Keyword evaluation changes were recently announced by Google Adwords via an email to Google Adwords advertisers, here are some initial thoughts on the announcement.  I'd appreciate anyone else's opinions of the announcement and my analysis of the new 'keyword evaluation changes'.   The actual announcement is at the bottom of the article.

This is good and bad.

I like the idea of Google Adwords no longer slowing the account.  That was always an annoying feature of the system; one keyword would slow down an entire campaign.  I would rather Google turn the keyword to inactive.  That's a good change.  However, it also means we have to keep a better eye on inactive keywords, to reinstate them, change the ads (improve them) or change the type of ad.

Whoever wrote this sentence from Google needs to be either fired or given a raise depending upon your perspective (Google's or the advertiser). "Keywords with a higher Quality Score will be given lower minimum bids to stay active and trigger ads. Keywords with a lower Quality Score (including those that are currently on hold) will have the opportunity to run if your keyword or Ad Group's maximum cost-per-click (CPC) meets the minimum bid." 

So high QS = lower CPC required on the keyword or the Ad group

Low QS = higher CPC required on the keyword or Ad group

If your keyword does not meet the minimum bid but the Ad Group's maximum CPC does meet your minimum bid your ad will run, this means that because of the CPC Ad Group factor a SEM specialist will be able to have certain ads run even though a CPC was set lower than for a keyword.  Hmmm... I might suggest we selectively pick certain high CPC keywords to raise the average of an Ad Group's CPC, just so that you might lower the CPC of a number of ads overall, by focusing on one or two high CPC keywords that have a low volume and maybe low CTR.

What's also interesting is that those ads that are on hold affect the Ad Group's CPC, this means if you have some ads that have a low CPC they will reduce the Ad Group's overall average even though they are on hold.  Resulting in some circumstances where an on hold ad or ad with a low CPC would actually help to turn off another ad running within an Ad Group, if that keyword and the Ad Group does not meet the minimum requirement.  This really gives SEMs the incentive to optimize their ads, and means you have to keep an even more careful eye on what's happening with ad optimization.

Here's the breakdown on the Quality Score factor.

Quality Score = CTR + making sure you include the searcher's keyword in the ad text + historic keyword performance (? of your ads for that ad or an overall industry performance?) + other relevancy factors (what does this mean?)

I assume the historic keyword performance is for your ad, forgive me but its been a few months since I've been working on Google Adwords, I've been concentrating on Blogging these last three months, so I forget if Google had already defined this.  Also, what does other relevancy factors mean, I assume that if your URL includes the keyword that would be one factor, not sure what else.

Actions to take on your campaigns now:

Delete all on hold keywords, and reinstate, or change the ads or type of ad to make them active.

Also there are changes to the Google Adwords API.

Google AdWords™ Announcement
Keyword Evaluation Changes

Hello from the Google AdWords Team:

You asked, and we listened. In the coming weeks, we'll simplify our keyword status system and introduce quality-based minimum bids, giving you more control to run on keywords that you find important. We believe these changes will result in higher quality ads.

What's changing

  • Simplified account management: Your keywords will be active or inactive — instead of normal, in trial, on hold, and disabled. In addition, accounts will no longer be slowed. Currently, accounts are slowed when they don't meet our performance requirements and your ads appear rarely for your keywords.
  • Quality-based minimum bids: Soon, each keyword will be assigned a minimum bid based on its Quality Score. Keywords with a higher Quality Score will be given lower minimum bids to stay active and trigger ads. Keywords with a lower Quality Score (including those that are currently on hold) will have the opportunity to run if your keyword or Ad Group's maximum cost-per-click (CPC) meets the minimum bid.

    • The Quality Score is determined by your keyword's clickthrough rate (CTR), relevance of your ad text, historical keyword performance, and other relevancy factors.
    • Ad Rank, or the position of your ad, will continue to be based on the maximum CPC and quality (now called the Quality Score).

What you should do

Here are some suggestions for what you should do before and after we implement the changes described above:

Before implementation: If you're happy with your current keyword list, there's no need to make any changes. However, if you have any on hold keywords that you don't want to trigger ads, we suggest you delete them from your account. This is because any keywords with a high enough Quality Score and maximum CPC could be activated and accrue ad clicks. You can use our Find and Edit Keywords tool, available in your account's Tools page, to quickly search for and delete any keywords in your account.

After implementation: We'll email you after we implement these changes. You should then log in to your account and monitor your keyword performance under these new guidelines. Any disabled keywords at the time of implementation will remain labeled as disabled in your account. Several weeks later, we'll delete them. This period of time is meant to give you an opportunity to review your disabled keywords and activate them.

Finally, to ensure your ads are optimized for performance, we suggest you continue to improve your keywords and ad text for relevancy. Here are some resources that will help:

For more information, please visit our Performance Changes page.

The Google AdWords Team