Should You Always Delete Low Quality Score Keywords?

Low Quality Score keywords can wreck absolute havoc on a PPC campaign. Not only does Google inflate the minimum bid price on these terms, but their historical impact on your ad group, campaign, and even account, can last a long time, especially if they aren’t dealt with in a timely fashion.

Many paid search managers know that quick reaction is key to any PPC campaign’s success. However, in my experience, often times they are a little too eager to hit “Delete” on any keyword that drops below a Quality Score of 5.

That, my friends, is not always the best solution. Here, we’ll take a look at some steps to investigating the reason behind a keyword’s low Quality Score, and what alternative options exist other than keyword removal.

Low Quality Score KW Investigation

Whenever I see a keyword with a Quality Score of 5 or below, my first stop is what I refer to as the “AdWords Keyword Bubble”. Located just to the left of the Status of each keyword you’ll see a little bubble icon, that contains valuable information for PPC managers. This hint bubble will tell you if the keyword is showing ads for your account, as well as AdWords’ assessment of three key areas for each term:

  • Expected CTR
  • Ad Relevance
  • Landing Page Relevance

In the example above, Google feels that the ad relevance is lacking, and as a result of that plus the low expected CTR, this particular keyword has a low Quality Score.

Fine. Thanks, Google. But what should I do about that??

Well, clearly, the first step here would be to rewrite some of the ad copy in this ad group to better fit this particular keyword. If said keyword were truly valuable to the account, I would even consider pausing this keyword in its existing ad group & creating a new ad group entirely, with highly-focused ad copy & a quality landing page.

If Google is telling you that your landing page is an issue, check the destination URL in the ads (or keyword) itself, to make sure it’s pointing to the correct page. If it is, maybe there’s a better landing page on your site to direct this term to; or, just maybe, a new landing page should be created entirely.

After Investigating…

If there’s truly nothing that can be done to improve Quality Score, you have two choices to make:

  • Delete the keyword entirely
  • Leave it alone

To make this determination, I would personally look at historical performance. If the keyword were performing well, even with a low Quality Score, I see no reason to delete it. I would, however, move it to it’s own ad group; while it still may slightly negatively impact your campaign & account, leaving it in an ad group with other keywords would have much more of a destructive impact on that ad group than it would at the campaign level.

If, however, the campaign doesn’t need this keyword, and if it hasn’t performed, go ahead and delete it. Pausing it does the same thing, but if it’s that bad of a term, chances are, you won’t be using it again.

As a reminder, though, give every keyword a chance to perform before making a decision. I typically wait until a keyword has at least 50 clicks or 10k impressions before I assess it’s overall impact on my campaign performance.