Quality Score and Bid To Position

A lot of advertisers have keywords on which their desire and instinct is to ‘bid to position’ – meaning they want to rank in the top slot (or the top 3 slots) and are willing to pay almost anything to do so.

This is generally defined as a ‘branding’ requirement, although it may be more accurately described as a form of vanity bidding.

In preparing for next Tuesday’s Quality Score seminar with Bryan Eisenberg, I’ve started thinking about the impact of Quality Score on Bid-to-Position.

It’s easy to think about Bid-to-Position is based on the out-dated thinking of PPC as a pure auction. The strategy itself implies a willingness to pay ‘whatever it takes’ to attain a certain position in the rankings.

(Or at least pay an amount more than economically justifiable – many Bid-to-Position rules do allow you to set a MaxCPC over which the desire for a certain position will yield to some economic reality.)

But as the role and impact of Quality Score increases the ability to bid your way into a position gets harder and harder, and in many cases ultimately impossible.

Position is not driven solely by bid anymore. And in many cases bid won’t even be the largest influencing factor.

We can see this by looking at Google’s new ‘First Page Minimum Bid’ which, according to Google is “based on the exact match version of the keyword, the ad’s Quality Score, and current advertiser competition on that keyword.”

If that’s what it takes to get on the first page, then this obviously has a lot of implications to anyone hoping to ‘Bid-to-Position’.

  1. First it reinforces the notion that all of your keyword work should be striving toward Exact Match, because Exact beats Phrase which beats Broad.
  2. Second it says you had better really worry about the Quality Score of the keywords you’re trying to position. A lousy QS will sink your chances of attaining any position, let alone a top one.
  3. Bids are only important in the context of these first two.

On Tuesday Bryan and I will dive deeply into Quality Score and how you can and why you need to focus on improving it for the keywords in your campaigns. This ‘secret formula’ has impact on every dollar you spend, and every click you get – or don’t get.

The impact of Quality Score on various bid strategies and campaign goals is just one of the topics we’ll cover. Please join us if you can.



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