Don’t Fall For Google Ads Optimization Scores

November 2, 2021
Posted in Paid Search
November 2, 2021 Jen Lopez

Don’t Fall For Google Ads Optimization Scores

If you’ve been running Google Ads within the last year or so, you’ve likely noticed a prominent “Optimization Score” on the Recommendations tab of your campaigns. Relayed as a percentage, your Optimization Score is shown in real-time based on the stats, settings and statuses of your account and campaigns. The score is available for Search, Shopping, Display and Video campaigns at this time. But, we always take it with a grain of salt and here’s why.

What is the Google Ads Optimization Score?

This score is calculated based on the standing of your account, and is directly related to how many automated “Recommendations” you’ve implemented at various levels throughout your account. On the Recommendations tab, you can see what Google is suggesting for your account using their artificial intelligence, and how much each recommendation will improve your Optimization Score.

Why It’s Not Perfect.

When has anything automated been perfect? Yes, though it is already 2021, we do still need real people with strategic brains to manage your PPC campaigns. While implementing some recommendations, like adding ad extensions is a no-brainer, Google Ads often goes above and beyond the simple and encourages optimizations like adding new keywords – many of which may not be relevant for your product or service. Other recommendations that have been prominent are ones that don’t truly understand the advertiser’s strategy. For example, our team always gets dinged on Optimization Score based on a recommendation to “remove conflicting negative keywords” in our Phrase or Broad Match Modified campaigns, since we negate the Exact Match version of those same keywords from the campaign. This is a practice called adding “cross-negatives” and it helps us better funnel our traffic by match type, allowing us to separate budgets for campaigns we expect to perform differently…but, Google Ads doesn’t always have an understanding of that plan when showcasing automated recommendations. It can make you second guess your plan, or worse, have your trusted stakeholders second guess it.

Our Plan.

So, what is the best way to use your Optimization Score? First, don’t get hung up on it – that is the key! It is a metric different than your Quality Score, which is used to determine how good your ads are in comparison to other advertisers based on your historical and expected click-through rate, ad relevance and landing page relevance. They are not one in the same.

Next, check your Recommendations tab regularly, and implement the ones that make sense. It may be adjusting a bid strategy, creating ad extensions or adding in a few more responsive search ad variations. The last thing you’d ever want to do here is just click “Apply” on all Recommendations – as many will not be a good a fit and could send your ad spend soaring in a matter of moments. Be responsible and be strategic. Understand that this metric is automated.

Lastly, be sure to reach out to your Google rep if you have specific questions about your account or a recommendation that you see. Just know that they may also be motivated to push certain products or spend levels that aren’t always in line with your goals. So, better yet, we are happy to help too, just drop us a line!

Other Notes on Optimization Score

If you work for an agency or manage a portfolio of clients, we’ve found it helpful to explain the pitfalls of Optimization Score upfront, and explain why we don’t use it as a key performance indicator. It is not directly correlated to your account’s performance and even if on the lower end, it may not be indicative of any real problems.

Next, since it is developed by an ad platform, you can guess that many of these recommendations may be ones that encourage more spending, and unfortunately, many advertisers  have limited budgets. You are sure to blow a huge hole in the budget by mindlessly clicking “Apply” when seeing a new recommendation appear. The message here is don’t trust it, but test it if you think it makes sense for your business goals and objectives.