Google has today announced plans for further changes to be made to their quality score algorithm following the changes to the Google scoring system which took place in September.
The latest announcements as announced on the inside Adwords blog are not yet in place but are likely to be in the next week so it is considering how they may affect your Adwords campaigns. The changes come in two forms:
Position Normalisation on CTR Influence
Reading between the lines on the release (it isn’t Google’s clearest ever announcement!) Google are going to be accounting for the position of an ad when deciding how significantly CTR should apply to the quality score. Traditionally CTR has played a huge part in the quality score algorithm and I have no doubts it will continue to do so, but the problem with it has always been, it can be bought. The big spenders, with the deep pockets, can afford to bid to position 1 and buy a good CTR in a short space of time. Through this latest change Google are aiming (at least I hope) to reduce the ability to do this by accounting for position when judging what constitutes a “good” click through rate. So for example a CTR of 3% in position 5, would be determined a better judge of quality than 5% in position 1 where the ad is the first thing is searcher sees. This should allow for a much more level playing field for the lower spending advertisers and negate, to a certain degree, the spending power of the big players.
Changes in Position 1,2 and 3
Traditionally the top 3 positions which appear above the natural search results are determined by whether the top 3 advertisers in the max CPC x QS model had a sufficient quality score to merit inclusion in the top bar (what quantifies sufficient is unknown). These three positions are highly valuable and get high CTR due to their prominence on the page. What the latest changes are going to do, in essence, is to place more emphasis on ad quality and QS in this equation and less on max CPC (see a trend here?). So that if an ad in position 1 doesnt have the necessary CTR and ad quality to appear in position one, but wins the general auction, it wont stop the ads in position 2 and 3 from leap-frogging into these prominent positions.
My general feeling is that these changes will normalise the market for the benefit of the small business PPC marketer. Obviously Google will still make their money as a lot of clicks at a medium CPC is better than a couple of clicks at a high one. it could also prompt the big PPC spenders spend even more as they try to achieve the positions they previously hold, win win for Google!
I expect a pretty turbulent PPC landscape over the next week so Ill be keeping a close eye on things, I advise you to do the same!