Average Position & Quality Score of AdWords Click Throughs

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Quality Scores and how they interact with Average Position and Click Through Rates in Google AdWords is an interesting topic. A number of different blogs have discussed the relationship between CTR, Avg. Pos. and Cost per Click and its impact on campaign performance. It is the subject’s importance to managing an effective AdWords campaign that has attracted all this attention.

Defining Click Through Rate, Average Position and Quality Score

The definitions for Click Through Rate, Average Position and Quality Score below have been quoted from Google AdWords help pages.

  • Click Through Rate (CTR)
    • The number of clicks your ad receives divided by the number of times your ad is shown (impressions). (Source)
  • Average Position (Avg. Pos.)
    • Refers to the average position on a search result page that an ad appears in when it’s triggered by that keyword. (Source)
  • Quality Score
    • Quality Scores help ensure that only the most relevant ads appear to users on Google and the Google Network. (Source)

Visualising Click Through Rate by Quality Score & Average Position

A guide to the Impure.com graph linked to. Either use the embedded graph, or click this image to go to the active work space and explore it further.

In this example set of campaign data the distribution of high CTR by both Quality Score and Avg. Pos. is clustered near an average position of one, and a Quality Score of between 7 and 10. A lot of the traffic in the campaign had a Quality Score of 7 and as a result, activity associated with that Quality Score uis present in most ad positions above the 5th spot on the result page. The workspace was created by Impure.com, a rather cool tool that makes it possible to share visualisations and let others explore them further.

While a high Quality Score tends to mean that the keyword is in a higher position in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), it is not the most significant factor. In the attached graph Click Through is more closely linked to Average Position, regardless of its apparent Quality Score.

Click here for the full, active, workspace.

The graph shows average CTR for an Average Position and Quality Score. Position one and Quality Score ten are in the uppermost corner, with the largest spike in both data-sets. When the 3D Surface visualisation first opens, Quality Score is displayed as ten on the rightmost line, through to one on the leftmost. Average Position is depicted as highest on the page closer to the original point of view.

The Graph and the Data

The first file linked to via the switch, ‘all-qs-avepos.csv’, uses a complete campaign, whilst the second, ‘number-ctr.csv’, displays only a small sample from the original. The third, ‘1-39-ctr.csv’, only has data for average positions 1 through to 3.9.

In the campaign examined, the most active average positions are between 1 and 3.9. Whilst there are impressions recorded for other positions on the page, it is this area where most of the activity is recorded. A histogram where you can explore how impressions, clicks and so on related to reported average position can be found here.

Determining Average Position in Google’s Results

Missing Attachment

Cost per Click, Average Position and Click Through Rate

There is a strong connection between an ad’s Average Position and its Click Through Rate in Google’s search results, in the same way as there is a strong relationship between Quality Score and Click Through Rate, even with the indeterminate number of other ranking factors Google AdWords takes into account.

A Quora question; “Does “broad match” on Google AdWords often lead to lower quality scores for keywords?” touches on a few of the more interesting points regarding just how Google uses Click Through Rate data to determine a keyword’s Quality Score. Google’s own explanation of the topic is also worth reading through.

Ultimately, if you are willing to spend enough, you can get almost anything to appear near the top of Google through AdWords. Quality Score is in effect a discount for both providing an ad that does not seem to annoy the users and bulk buying traffic, represented by a higher Click Through Rate. Quality Score deserves its own blog post, and so it will be covered further in another post.

4 responses to “Average Position & Quality Score of AdWords Click Throughs”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by anthony contoleon, linkstomystuff. linkstomystuff said: It may be long and about boring stuff like AdWords, QS, Avg. Pos. and CTR. But there are graphs! http://contoleon.com/?p=1311 […]

  2. […] earlier post Average Position & Quality Score of AdWords Click Through focused on Average Position and how it relates to a keyword’s Click Through Rate (CTR) and […]

  3. Still find these Avg Pos hard to understand!

  4. […] Average Position as reported in AdWords (and Webmaster Tools) has been a rather unclear metric. An average by itself without any other summary statistic or standard deviation is not very useful. However reporting Average Position as well as the percentage of impressions for which the ad appeared in the top three spots at least provides some clue as to the distribution of the observations the average is calculated from. It is certainly a topic worth looking at further. […]

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