Long time readers of this column know that I am fascinated with the technology behind search engine marketing. In recent posts, I’ve highlighted tools that optimize the Google Display Network, help generate winning text ads, and even a platform for developing thousands of tiny ad groups for Quality Score optimization.
With SEM representing almost half of the digital advertising industry revenues, this channel is more important than ever and new tools are popping up to help us get the most return on our investment.
TenScores is a perfect example of one of these laser-focused tools. Founded by Chris Thunder, TenScores is a tool that performs a very simple, yet powerful function. Once you link your AdWords account to the platform, you’ll be able to monitor your individual Quality Scores and their historical performance. Nice, eh?
For those of you who obsess over your Quality Score, this is the tool for you. And for those of you who aren’t following your QS obsessively…why not?
I spoke with Chris about his background, the history behind his tool, and what’s on the road map for TenScores.
Q: What’s your background in search marketing?
Chris: I got bit by the bug in late 2007. I had an idea for a website I wanted to create but I wanted to test if there would be interest in it before actually creating it. That’s when I discovered AdWords. I was fascinated by ad writing and how changing just one word would have a dramatic impact on my CTRs and conversions.
Q:How did you get the idea for TenScores?
Chris: When I started managing other people’s accounts, I noticed one thing: none of them knew anything about Quality Score and the dramatic affects it has. Often, Quality Score was the first thing I had to improve when I had a new client. I knew I could help a lot of people save money with AdWords if only they could learn what kind of ‘quality’ Google wants.
I was consistently getting 10/10 Quality Scores so I decided to write a how-to eBook about it, hence the name TenScores. As I was finishing the book, a long time friend of mine came to live in my city, little did I know it would spark the beginning of a business partnership. He has excellent programming skills and was interested in what I was doing.
Since AdWords doesn’t give any historical data on your QS, and since QS fluctuates quite a lot, I asked him to create a simple tool I could use to monitor quality score evolutions in the accounts I was managing. What he did for me was tremendous. I would upload a file every day and see how my client’s QS had evolved. I could see where I was making progress and where things were going in red.
I thought other people would enjoy using a tool like this one so we decided to create a free membership site for it and see if there was interest. And there was interest indeed.
Q: What’s your thoughts on Quality Score in general?
Chris: Mixed feelings. On one hand, it can get really frustrating when you seem to do everything right but Google doesn’t want to raise your QS and you end up paying high bids for no apparent reason. On the other hand, when you do manage to increase your QS to 10 for example, the reward is great! Your traffic increases and your costs drop dramatically.
What annoys me the most is the little cloud of secrecy that surrounds it. Google asks its advertisers to be 100% transparent but they don’t follow that advice themselves. QS is still hidden is new accounts, most people don’t know that other advertisers mistakes can impact your own QS and … many times you’ll have low QS but no one at the Google headquarters will be able to tell you exactly what you’ve done wrong.
It’s very, very frustrating.
Q: What does the tool do? What are the benefits? What are the negatives (right now)?
Chris: The idea is to have historical data on your keywords’ quality scores (and first page minimum bids), see when they rise or fall so you can optimize accordingly.
For example, if you have keyword that has a QS of 6/10, you can look at its history. If you see that it was at 7/10 at some point in time, you know something happened and you can make the change easily to get it back to 7. The simple change from 6 to 7 can mean quite a lot in terms of ROI if it’s a high traffic keyword.
The manual tool we have can do that but the process is a little bit cumbersome. Uploading file after file everyday can be exhausting. The automatic tool that we’re launching in a few weeks will monitor whole accounts in regard to keywords’ quality score fluctuations – with no action needed from the user, except simply logging in.
Q: How do users win at QS management using TenScores?
Chris: Well, they simply get insights about the quality of their campaigns that are unavailable in AdWords. It helps them optimize quickly where it has the most impact. Not only that, but there’s a little bit of training for those who are not familiar with Quality Score.
Those who don’t know how important it is or how to optimize it, those who want to enhance their knowledge on effective ad copy writing, those who want to learn the right way to create ad groups … we give them access to the original TenScores eBook that I used to sell for $69.
Q: What are some upcoming changes/features?
Chris: Right now it is simply a reporting tool, it doesn’t make any changes in the AdWords account. We’ll first try to make the reporting features as complete as possible and then think of ways TenScores can interact with AdWords accounts to improve performance, if possible.
For example, we’ll add email alerts for quality score. That’s something not available in AdWords. We’d like our users to get alerts when an important keyword has fallen under a certain quality score threshold.
We will add the possibility for users to set goals of quality score achievements and be able to track their progress. For example, if you want your top 10 keywords to be above 7/10, you’ll be able set that goal, TenScores will give you optimization ideas and track the progress of that objective – until you reach it.
We’re thinking of creating a tool that can take a quick look at a landing page and spot potential problems that could lead to ‘poor landing page quality’. Those are things I think would be great for me, but I’m sure people will bring us better ideas and our ears are open. Very wide open.
Chris: Now that I’ve answered your questions, I’d be delighted to hear your thoughts and feelings about TenScores. Maybe even give us some tips on how to move forward and the features you think would be most beneficial to you as a marketer or your readers.
Josh: Ah, you turned this around on me. Hey, I’m the one asking the questions around here. Ha! Okay, that is a good question. I’m glad to hear that you want to build it out so you are able to go beyond just monitoring your QS, but also are able to make changes to your accounts from inside the system.
Overall, I think it’s a handy piece of gear that can be in the toolbox of any search engine marketer. For some accounts, QS isn’t much of an issue, but for others, it’s holding back their success. It’s SEM accounts like these that would be benefit most from your tool.