{Keyword: Keyword} versus {Keyword: Default text} and its influence on the quality score


Keyword insertion is a controversial and frequently discussed topic. Google introduced the feature to allow its users to dynamically update their ad texts with the keyword that is used to target the ad. If, for example, the keyword “golf shoes” is triggered by a customer’s search, keyword insertion allows you to use “golf shoes” in your ad text, e.g. in the headline, to emphasise the relevance of your ad.

But then again, ads with keyword insertion tend to not read so well, especially if the plain keyword is used as insertion text inside the brackets. A default text – without the actual keyword – might provide relief and be the better solution. But does it impact the quality score if you use a default text instead of the keyword? Let’s put things to the test!

Keyword vs. default text

Our goal was to test the impact on the quality score when using keyword insertion with the actual keyword or with a default text. Therefore, we created two campaigns. Each campaign contained the keyword golf set with the keyword type phrase. The respective CPCs were equal.

Within each campaign, a single ad was created. Description lines and display URL for the ads were the same. For the headlines we used two different versions: In our first campaign, we used keyword insertion with the plain keyword, in the second campaign, we used the default text “golf” for the headline.


We scheduled the campaigns so that the ads would take turns to run. The first ad was shown from midnight until 2.00 am, the second one from 2.00 am until 4.00 am, then, the first ad was displayed again, and so on and so forth. To make sure that neither of the ads was at a disadvantage because of the selected time slots, the scheduling was changed after one week with the second ad starting at midnight.

Surprising results

After several weeks, we had a closer look at the collected data. To our surprise the quality score was not affected by the default text at all. Although the average CPCs of the ads containing default text were slightly higher, their overall performance was comparable:

Keyword Campaign Max CPC Average CPC QS
“golfset” Keyword Text 0,44€ 0,36€ 9/10
“golfset” Default Text 0,44€ 0,38€ 9/10

Our test showed that there is not a significant difference between the two options. However, you should test yourself in your campaigns whether to use plain keywords when using keyword insertion or not as the results may be different for you. I definitely will.


Manuela Lang

Manuela Lang is a PPC Manager for crealytics and has 2+ years of experience in PPC and 4+ years of experience in Consulting and Data Analytics.
She has been working across different industries with a focus on markets in UK and DACH.