I’ll admit it, I’m not a heavy user of paid search services, but today’s Google AdWords Quality Score changes have me picturing SNL’s Weekend Update team going “Oh really, Google?”
More precise Quality Score calculation
Clickthrough rate (CTR) is the most significant component of Quality Score because it directly indicates which ads are most relevant to our searchers. As you probably have observed, ads in high positions typically earn better CTR than those in low positions, because ads in high positions are more visible to searchers. To calculate the most accurate Quality Scores, it’s important that the influence of ad position on CTR be taken into account and removed from the Quality Score.
In the coming days, we’ll update the portion of the Quality Score algorithm that accounts for ad position. This will result in more accurate Quality Scores, ensure that ads compete fairly for position based on their quality and bid, and enable Google to show the most relevant ads to searchers by rewarding high-quality advertisers with better ad positions.
Oh really, Google? You didn’t previously think that ads that appeared higher on the page would receive an unfairly higher click-through-rate? Oh really? All the eye-tracking and click-tracking studies EVER conducted, just happened to escape your notice until today? Really? (see update below)
Teasing aside, if you’re a big AdWords user you’ll likely welcome the above Quality Score change–and pee your pants when you see the other major change announced:
Higher quality ads above the search results
We’re also improving the way we determine which ads show in the yellow region above the search results. These positions are particularly valuable to advertisers because they are prominently positioned on the page. Given their prominence, it’s especially important that these ads be high quality; we therefore place extra emphasis on quality when determining which ads to show in this location.
To appear above the search results, ads must meet a certain quality threshold. In the past, if the ad with the highest Ad Rank did not meet the quality threshold, we may not have shown any ads above the search results. With this update, we’ll allow an ad that meets the quality threshold to appear above the search results even if it has to jump over other ads to do so. For instance, suppose the ad in position 1 on the right side of the page doesn’t have a high enough Quality Score to appear above the search results, but the ad in position 2 does. It’s now possible for the number 2 ad to jump over the number 1 ad and appear above the search results. This change ensures that quality plays an even more important role in determining the ads that show in those prominent positions.
The new changes aren’t live yet, so keep an eye on your AdWords account.
UPDATE: A Google spokesperson explained that Google did take into account the ad position, but that the system is being improved with this update. Oh really?…OK, yes, really.