About a week ago, Google started to roll out an update to their PPC quality score algorithm. That’s right I said ‘update’ not introduced the thing in its entirety. The Google quality Score system has been around for a while now. August 2005 to be precise, when it was announced that the following would affect your bids
Keyword’s clickthrough rate (CTR)
Relevance of your ad text
Historical keyword performance on Google
And other relevancy factors (more Google hidden sauce.
All of this is absolutely fine, because after all we expect to find relevant content at the end of a click, be it free or paid listings, relevancy is and always will be king in the world of search. But from around July 4 06 Google twisted the knife by altering the minimum bids of advertisers where they think their Google quality Score is too low. There is of course an almighty backlash across forums as advertisers who bid on low traffic low cost keywords/phrases see their minimum bids raise in some cases from $0.20 to $5.00, effectively pricing them out of the marketplace.
The question on everyone’s lips though is WHY. Officially Google say
“From time-to-time, we improve our algorithms for evaluating landing page quality (often based on feedback from our end-users), and next week we’re launching another such improvement. Thus, over the coming days a small number of advertisers who are providing a low quality user experience on their landing pages will see increases in their minimum bids. It is important to note, however, that the vast majority of advertisers will not be affected at all by this change, as they link to quality landing pages.” taken from here
Most people are saying that this is a direct attack on poor quality landing pages that are using Arbitrage (buying low cost AdWords, delivering them to a page with AdSense ads on and making money by people clicking on the higher priced AdSense ads.) If this is the case, then WHY are Google not simply removing these pages from its AdWords system? WHY are Google not enforcing the quality guidelines that say do not make pages just for AdSense. WHY are Google not altering their terms and conditions to make it unacceptable to deliver AdWords traffic to pages carrying AdSense? OR simply introduce a system where if the visitor is referred from AdWords then the AdSense click is not charged or credited. ALL of these things would result in this tactic being removed, but NOT A SINGLE genuine advertiser would be affected.
Another consideration is the landing page quality? Many PPC professionals use highly optimised landing pages (as you should) and part of this results in constant tweaking of these pages until they get to their optimum for the advert. (YES 2000 adverts might well result in 2000 landing pages, masses of work, but when you see the conversion ratio double, triple, quadruple and more, it is well worth it.) As these pages are tweaked, it is possible to have almost identical pages, and, as a result of this, top pro’s block the spiders from them. They are there SIMPLY for PPC, and NOT as part of the organic SEO, they are an SEM tool. SO how then are Google going to run their algorithm on a page they are not allowed to spider?
I have sent the following request to AdWords support
“Since you rolled out the quality score minimum bid increase that is focused (amongst other things) on the landing page, this has set alarm bells ringing in my head. Although I do not personally run Adwords myself, I do handle accounts for many of my clients, one of which is spending about $30k a month. My main concern is that as many of these landing pages are tweaked and developed to increase conversions, they often become close to duplicate, and anyhow as they are part of the PPC pages we do not want them to be treated as potential doorway pages or as part of the site (as they are not). For this reason we exclude robots from them.
My question is short and simple. How can you evaluate the quality of these landing pages when you are blocked from viewing them by spidering? Will the blocking result in a set score for this element, and will it affect the overall quality score.
I look forward to your reply, and will be posting the reply across the forums to help ease the worries of myself and others.
Interesting to see what they say about this.
There are also rumblings of unacceptable business practice that might well be illegal in the UK & Europe (companies MUST have a clear and transparent charging structure, charging what you like to different people is not acceptable there) One thing is for certain though, while this might improve the quality slightly there are going to be an awful lot of people large and small who are going to be mighty peeved over the increase in minimum bids.