Searching Beyond the Paid

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Google AdWords Updates Landing Page Quality Score

Good overview and commentary by JenSense, in her blog, on the new Adwords Landing Page Quality Score. She points out that, by all appearances, Google is trying to weed out the Made-For-Adsense (MFA) web sites. She says, "Depending on where you sit on the issue, this decision could be the best thing AdWords could have done, or the worst thing they could have done to your profits."

Indeed. When I first read the email from the Inside AdWords team, I was pleased. Our ads have shown up on a few of these MFA's, and needless to say, the clicks don't convert. It's doubly frustrating to see the MFA's competing with us for AdWords positioning, as well. All in all, I think this is a good thing for both the advertisers and the searchers.

I'm a little (and for now, only a little) concerned about the fringe effect of this change, though. Many of our high-volume keywords, for both clicks and conversions, are also really high-traffic terms that tend to be somewhat generic. CTR's are relatively low on these terms, which hurts our Quality Score. But the overall volume of clicks is high, and so is the conversion percentage. I want our ads to show on these keywords. On the other hand, some of these keywords have garnered really high keyword minimum CPCs of late - and the list has grown (slightly) longer since this new announcement by Google. I'm seeing a lot more $5.00 minimum CPCs, and even one $10.00 minimum, for the keyword "discover". Yikes. For a $19.95 subscription, it doesn't take a math whiz to figure out that we can't afford to pay $10 for every click on that keyword. Thing is, though, that one-word keyword converts! In this case, and most of the others, Google is passing up some decent click revenue from us.

It goes without saying that, suddenly, most of our Harper's Bazaar keywords have gone inactive, too. See my previous post on that fiasco.

Nonetheless, I'm cautiously optimistic about the new Quality Score. MFAs aren't good for anybody except the MFA site owners, and I'd love to see them disappear. I've been testing some workarounds for the high minimum CPCs, as well, with a bit of success. Let's see how this all plays out.


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