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QA: What is It, and Why Do We Do It?

Published: March 23, 2015

Author: Jessica Carr

One of the most important parts of our jobs as SEMs is a little thing we call QA, or Quality Assurance. It’s so important, yet it’s so often brushed off or done half-heartedly because I don’t think it’s something that any of us would classify as fun. But it’s something I’m going to talk about today because if not done, mistakes can be made and money can be lost.

At 3Q, we have a system of QA, or checking each other’s work to ensure quality for our clients. Not because we don’t trust each other or because we make a lot of mistakes, but because so much goes into a great SEM campaign that we need to double-check the details to ensure we didn’t miss anything. In the 6 years that I’ve been doing SEM, these are just a few of the things I’ve seen go wrong:

-A shared negative list was not applied to a new campaign launched with broad match keywords, resulting in spending money on thousands of irrelevant clicks.

-In Excel, the option to fill a series of bids was chosen rather than copying them down, making some bids extremely high.

-Something was misspelled or a price was wrong in the ad copy.

-Parameters were forgotten or appended wrong in the URL.

Enter, the facepalm:


You can see how some of these could cause problems and even harm a relationship with a client. So, here is what we do to avoid issues like this:


1. Include clear written instructions when assigning a task to someone.

2. Ask questions on things that we’re unclear on – this is huge!

3. Once the task is completed, send it back to the Account Manager to look it over (QA).

4. Once given the green light, upload and QA again! Check campaign settings, negative lists, and bids to ensure accuracy.


Seems simple, right? Hey, we all make mistakes. I’ve never met anyone in this job who hasn’t done something similar to the above. But, we can mitigate the possible damage from these things by checking each other’s work. Even someone at the senior level who may be doing a quick build because everyone else is swamped should get a second set of eyes on their work.

Don’t be that person who goes for quantity over quality. A client will be a lot more understanding when you give them a later ETA because you want to ensure the work is done properly rather than rushing to get it done quickly and explaining a mistake that was made. I can promise you that.

Like I said, QA is not something I’d consider fun, but a necessary part of our job. So save yourself a headache and a facepalm, and QA!

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