Why Adwords QS is BS: An Open Letter to Google’s Adwords Team

by trigatch4 on June 2nd, 2008

Google prides itself in displaying the most relevant search results for selected keywords. And as a search engine, Google is incredibly successful, because they DO show the most relevant search results in the most user friendly manner.

Take for example my site about Street Fighter 4 which, at the time of this post, ranks #3 for the search term Street Fighter 4… with or without quotes.


This ranking is well deserved – it is a REAL fan site that I’ve been building for months and months in anticipation of the game. I loved Street Fighter a decade ago and have enjoyed building this site. I haven’t used any tactics to try and get it ranked… I’ve simply tried to build a great resource for other Street Fighter Fans looking for all the information in one location. I’ve even got some e-mails and comments thanking me for putting the site together.

This is a case of the Google Algo working fairly for searchers and wonderfully for me. I create one of the best resources online for Street Fighter 4 and Google recognizes my effort by sharing it with their searchers.

Many, many months ago I also started an Adwords campaign to get some additional visitors to my site. I wanted people to find it so they would check it regularly and eventually, join my Street Fighter 4 forum when I had time to add it (I just recently did).

So, I made a contextual advertisement sending traffic to the homepage (streetfighter4.org) with the exact keywords people would be searching (street fighter 4, “street fighter 4”, etc). At first I had minimum bids of about .04 or .05 cents…. be reminded this was in October of 2007.

Yesterday I read on Kotaku.com, a popular gaming website, that the Street Fighter 4 Website was live! I was excited and quickly read up on all the new info. WOW… an AWESOME trailer was shown during the Kimbo Slice MMA fight on CBS and GameStop was now offering the game for pre-order at $59.99!

Craziness! I figured I’d head on over to Adwords and check up on the campaign for the first time in many, many months. To my surprise not a SINGLE AD had been shown since March 22nd, a span of over 2 months:


Well that sucks. Unfortunately, that’s not even CLOSE to the worst news. I assumed that my max bid was set to 3 or 4 cents and they wanted me to up it to 5, 6, maybe even 10 cents on the extremely high end.



So let me get this straight….

Google, the greatest search engine in the universe, thinks my streetfighter4.org landing page is one of the Top 5 pages for the term “street fighter 4” out of 1,550,000 pages of results? Yes… that is true and proven above.

And you’re also telling me that my Adwords Quality Score for the broad, phrase and exact match search term “Street Fighter 4” sending traffic to the landing page streetfighter4.org with Street Fighter 4 in the ad text twice gets a POOR rating?

Surely there must be some mistake? Lets look at Adwords brilliant explanation of what might be wrong with my campaign:


So.. my landing page is irrelevant? That’s funny because your own search engine said that there were only TWO pages in the whole UNIVERSE that had more relevance than mine out of more than 1.5 MILLION. How much more relevant can I possible get?

Google exists to deliver the most relevant results for searchers in terms of organic listings AND advertisements. Obviously, they run on two different algos. But, having every single factor remaining constant and yielding such diabolically opposite results illustrates a clear flaw in the system.

I think anyone visiting my site would agree that it deserves its #3 Google Ranking for the search term. And I also believe that anyone with half a brain cell would agree that forcing me to bid $10 in a situation like this is nothing short of ridiculous.

But wait… wait… maybe there IS a factor that I’m forgetting about. Perhaps there are other advertisers bidding on the same exact term that are forcing my minimum bid up?


Guess not… there are ZERO advertisers for the term. ZERO.

So not only is Adwords QS treating me unfairly as a hard working web developer providing quality information, which Google acknowledges as top notch yet Adwords tells me is poor, but QS is blatantly disregarding the interest of Shareholders.

Yes, I will be getting free, organic traffic for the term. But, I’m willing to PAY for traffic as well. But Google won’t let me. I guess they will, for 10 bucks, but thats like watching your friend pee in a pool and then inviting you to swim in it… it ain’t gonna happen.

If you ask me this is nothing short of an embarrassment on behalf of Google. Of course, they could exact revenge on me for vocalizing the inefficiency and contradictory nature of the Adwords QS algo y saying, “you’re right, the search engine shouldn’t have placed you so high, now you’re ranked 1 million for the term and your QS is still poor.”

But they won’t do that… the site IS worth it’s ranking and it will only get better as I devote more and more time to it. By the way, I’ll crush anyone here on XBOX Live once it comes out… Sonic BOOOOM baby!

Although I knew it would be a waste of time, I did an online chat with Adwords Live Chat Support. You can see the conversation pasted below. I just want to know… HEY, Mr. Cutts… anyone at Google…. can you explain this to me? Can I get a little justice over here?

Thank you for contacting Google AdWords. Please hold a moment while we route your chat to a specialist who will help you with your question: “I need a real response about a discrepancy: Google Adwords QS treats my site unfairly, forcing $10 bids while Google.com ranks the same landing page for the same keyword #3 out of all sites on the internet.”.
Chat InformationAll AdWords specialists are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. A representative will be with you shortly. You are number 1 in the queue.
Chat InformationAll AdWords specialists are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. A representative will be with you shortly. You are number 1 in the queue.
Chat InformationAll AdWords specialists are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. A representative will be with you shortly. You are number 1 in the queue.
Chat InformationAll AdWords specialists are currently assisting others. Thanks for your patience. A representative will be with you shortly. You are number 1 in the queue.
Chat InformationSujasha has received your message and will be right with you.
Sujasha: Hello Rob. Thanks for contacting Google AdWords. I’m happy to help you.
Sujasha: I see you’re concerned about a difference in your site evaluation for AdWords, and for Organic search.
Rob: Correct, I accidentally got disconnected before.
Rob: It makes no sense.
Sujasha: I understand.
Rob: if you search GOOGLE.com for “Street Fighter 4” you will see that the URL – streetfighter4.org – ranks #2 out of all sites on the internet.
Sujasha: The main reason for this is that AdWords and Organic search are not related in any way, and run on completely different algorithms and different principles.
Rob: But Adwords is giving me a LOW quality score for the exact same keyword (Street Fighter 4) sent to the exact same landing page (StreetFighter4.org).
Rob: Well one algo thinks my landing page is amazing (Google.com) and the other thinks it is absolutely horrible ($10/bid)
Sujasha: I do understand that this might be confusing, but please believe me when I tell you that AdWords and Organic search ranking and quality processes have nothing to do with each other.
Rob: And, it is forcing $10/click when NOBODY is advertising for this term
Rob: Well, Google is sending mixed signals then.
Sujasha: It’s really not like that. If that would have been the case, then all sites which are listed high on Organic search would have had high ranking ads on AdWords.
Sujasha: Even though both appear on the same page, they have nothing to do with each other.
Rob: But don’t you think if a site ranks Top 5 for a keyword then the Quality Score for that keyword should be very, very good?
Rob: If not, then you are admitting that one of your algo’s is extremely flawed.
Sujasha: It’s not really the keyword that causing the nigh bid, Rob.
Rob: ?
Rob: Then what is it?
Sujasha: Like I mentioned, it is your website that has been ranked poorly, not the keyword.
Rob: Google already ranks my website amazingly for the same keyword.
Rob: How can Google, although different products, say it is amazing Quality with the search engine and Horrible Quality with the advertising platform?
Rob: Since ALL of the criteria are the EXACT SAME, one of them HAS to be incredibly incorrect in their analysis.
Rob: And that is a fact.
Sujasha: You’ve answered your own question here, Rob.
Sujasha: AdWords and Organic search are different products, meant for different purposes.
Sujasha: Hence, they run on different principles and guidelines.
Rob: I strongly disagree with that.
Rob: The fundamental purpose of Google is to display the most relevant websites for a keyword.
Rob: Assuming it does that, then by default, my landing page should be one of the most relevant possible for the same keyword which would equate to a great Quality Score.
Sujasha: You’ll have to keep in mind that the guidelines and principles by which the two programs are judging the two websites are not the same, Rob.
Sujasha: I can understand this is confusing, however, this is the most relevant response I can offer, to your question.
Sujasha: I am not aware of how Organic search ranks sites, but if you wish, I can give you our Site Quality Guidelines for AdWords.
Rob: But the CONCEPT of each is supposed to follow the same guidelines… and the results are so diabolically different that the system seems fundamentally flawed, if what you are telling me is true.
Rob: Is there a way to reset the QS to re-evaluate my landing page and keywords?
Rob: Perhaps it is saying my QS is poor from many months back, when it had less content
Rob: And it never updated?
Rob: Is that possible?
Sujasha: There is no way to manually request a review, but here’s what you can do. I’ll give you a link to our guidelines. Please review your site according to them, and see if you feel that changes need to be made.
Rob: I don’t need a link to the guidelines
Rob: I already know them
Sujasha: Once you’ve made changes, resubmit your website with your ads.
Rob: So I should delete my campaign
Rob: And resubmit it?
Sujasha: The point here is to make changes to your website according to the guidelines.
Sujasha: If the system has marked something as Poor, it is unlikely that deleting the campaign will change this rating.
Rob: Okay…
Rob: I mean, I guess there is nothing you can do. But, I’m sure you see based on this VERY specific example that your Adwords QS is supremely flawed.
Sujasha: I am sorry you feel that way, Rob. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, there isn’t anything I can really do to over ride the system.
Rob: Okay, well I apologize for taking my frustration out on you, if it seemed that way.
Rob: Not a fun way to start a Monday so I am sorry for that.
Rob: I am just frustrated
Sujasha: Not at all. I can understand how hard this must be on you.
Rob: Thanks for trying to help.
Rob: And have a nice week
Sujasha: I wish I had something more to tell you, or a way to help you.

And shortly after we went our separate ways. By the way, I really liked the line “I can understand how hard this must be on you.”… I didn’t sound like THAT big of a baby, did I?

Hahahahah oh well… file this under the “will never get answered” category. Unfortunately, until they DO answer this question, EVERYone is suffering from missed opportunities, from the advertiser and stock holders to Google and Web Searchers.

Oh well… after venting I think I’m over it. But a response would still be nice.

1 Comment

  1. 1. Google Knows What You Did Last Summer : eurekadiary.com wrote on July 23, 2008

    […] The QS thing REALLY is upsetting since if I was bidding on “green widgets” my domain name was GreenWidgets.com, the ad text was all about green widgets and the entire site was about green widgets and I ranked at the top of Google for Green Widgets. I won’t say anymore about this because I explained it in regards to another one of my sites in this post […]

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