What is a Google Ads optimization score and how is it calculated?
Optimization score is "an estimate of how well your Google Ads account is set to perform." It's a score calculated by Google's interpretation of what account settings are good or bad.
If you don't pick the settings they prefer, you get a poor optimization score. However, if you ignore their recommendations and manually dismiss them, you still get a 100% optimization score.
The problem with Google Ads optimization score is that it's not based on performance but is disguised as a performance increase. Google will lower your score even if you are overperforming and make recommendations that will hurt your performance.
Plus, your dismissals are temporary. Wait a few days and you'll have the exact same recommendations you just dismissed lowering your optimization score once again.
Is Google Ads optimization score bad?
Google Ads is constantly updated to make it easier to automatically manage campaigns without manual actions. There is an assumption of good faith when Google makes a recommendation or promotes an automated tool, but Google's goals are different from the advertiser's goals.
More than 80% of Google's parent company Alphabet's revenue comes from Google Ads. Their goal is for a user to spend the most money possible per click, and the user's goal is to spend the least money possible per click.
This misalignment causes many people to give Google the benefit of the doubt and apply their recommendations, but they often increase spending and reduce the return on investment.
Sure, you can manually dismiss these recommendations and maintain an optimization score of 100%, but Google understands the fear of missing out (FOMO) and the desire to improve. They know that if they can convince someone to adopt their recommendations they'll make more money.
You don't need a tin-foil hat to see what they're up to, just take a look at the percentages behind the "spend more" recommendations:
"If you give us more money, you're 20% more optimized!"
How does Google Ads optimization score affect your account?
A poor optimization score puts you at risk of not being able to obtain a Google partnership badge or losing your badge if you already have one.
Should I dismiss Google Ads optimization score recommendations?
You should dismiss recommendations to preserve your intended account strategy and maintain good standing with Google partnership.
Not all recommendations are relevant to your industry or account strategy. For example, Google might recommend that you add image extensions to your ads:
However, the best click-through rates come from ads that disguise themselves as organic results. If you are in a service industry like Law, organic results do not display images let alone the highest-performing Google ads. Still, Google will still make this recommendation even if you are more than quadrupling the average industry click-through rate and penalize you if you don't.
So when it comes to optimization score:
- It is an arbitrary score with serious consequences if left unchecked.
- The recommendations typically favor Google's goal of making more money.
- The recommendations typically will not increase performance.
- The recommendations that gain the highest percentage almost always increase spend.