One of the most important elements of your Adwords campaign is the keyword Quality Score. Google has always maintained a policy of delivering relevant, high quality content to their users and this maxim is carried across into Adwords. Google wants to ensure that when a user clicks on an ad the site they visit is relevant and of an appropriate quality since poor quality or 'inappropriate' sites such as those set up purely to garner revenue reflect poorly on Google themselves.
The problem is that the 'quality' of a site is to some degree a subjective matter and in the past many Adwords clients have complained that their sites were being unfairly rated when, to the human eye, there was nothing obviously 'bad' about them. From yesterday (21st August 2008) Google has implemented a new method of assessing the quality score and it may have a substantial impact on your account costs and operation.
So, what is the quality score? For each keyword in your campaign Google examines the landing page(s) that that keyword relates to and uses a number of factors to determine a quality score. There are three possible ratings: Poor, OK and Great. It should be the aim of every Adwords manager to ensure all their keywords are 'Great' as anything else - particularly 'Poor' is going to have an impact on your CPC, position in search results and ranking in auctions for content placements.
How do I improve my quality score? There's little point in me doing anything other than pointing you to Google's own advice on the subject. But it's important to note that the quality score calculation now includes an assessment of landing page load times so it's important to keep your landing pages light and quick to load.
How do I see the quality score? By default, this vitally important variable isn't shown in your keywords tab (why Google?). To show this column log into your account, choose the 'Keywords' tab and then click 'customise columns' in the toolbar. Select 'Show Quality Score' and click 'Done'. You'll now see a quality score alongside each of your keywords.
So, check your quality scores and take whatever action you can to improve them. With Google, it's not a case of feeling the width, but minding the quality.*
*England had a relatively popular sitcom in the 1960s called 'Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width' about two tailors, the title of which evolved into something of a catchphrase...