Last Thursday, Google announced their newest round of improvements to the AdWords Quality Score. Yet another line of detail to keep all of us PPC advertisers on our toes! At its simplest form, this Quality Score update removes the “influence of ad position on CTR” when determining Quality Score, and the process for how ads reach the very top spots.

Let’s talk about the first part of this update. Google’s announcement states that they are removing the influence of ad position on CTR when determining Quality Score. Because ads in higher ad positions tend to garner higher CTR, and that higher CTR is a direct factor in Quality Score, Google feels this could put some ads at a disadvantage. It’s almost as if Google is saying that ads that have high ad position have consistently generated great Quality Scores and ads with lower ad position have not. Interesting. The effect of this change should “ensure that ads compete fairly for position based on their quality and bid…”

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.

The second part of this update has more to do with Ad Rank and “top ad placement.” Before this update, if the ad with the highest Ad Rank didn’t meet the “quality threshold” to enter into the top ad placement, NO ads made it in the yellow box at the top of the SERPs! Now, if an ad with a lower Ad Rank meets the “quality threshold” it can enter into the top ad placement – even if it means jumping over other ads.

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.

Change, change, change. It’s the one thing that remains constant – especially when discussing Quality Score. As of this afternoon, these changes are live. Google reminds everyone that this update shouldn’t disrupt your AdWords accounts, it’s always a good idea to double check your core metrics for any fluctuations. And on that note, I’ll leave you with an ironic quote I found earlier today:

If you don’t like change, you’re going to like irrelevance even less.