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PPC tips and advice

Landing pages and Google AdWords Quality Score

AdWords will incorporate the quality of landing pages into the 'quality score' used to calculate the ranking positions of adverts. Until now, the quality score has been a combination of bid level and CTR (clickthrough rate), but now Google will use data from spidering the landing pages of websites to assess their relevancy to the search term and to include this to calculate the overall position in which adverts will appear.

This move has two implications: firstly, AdWords is penalising advertisers who use irrelevant or low quality landing pages, which offer a poor user experience to those who click the ads and secondly, this will also help Google increase its revenue by forcing advertisers to spend more if their landing pages aren't up to scratch.

This is effectively a good move, apparently rewarding relevance for the benefit of users. But as part of the changes, some advertisers will find that their minimum bid levels are raised, so they will find that 'terms are inactive for search' until they raise the quality score or bid price. This is a shrewd move from Google as it pushes out low performing advertisers or forces them to make fundamental changes to their campaigns.

Particularly problematic are landing pages using Flash or other formats which won't be detected by search engine spiders. Until now landing pages where judged by their ability to convert incoming visitors into customers, rather than on their keyword focus or other such factors, usually related to 'organic' or 'natural' search rankings.

So, this may mean simply making some changes to their landing pages for many advertisers, but the increasing use of quality scores and particularly the raising of minimum bid levels has wider implications for advertisers' own flexibility of approach. For many advertisers this may mean creating additional pages specifically for their PPC, if not a full re-design of their website. This is going to create significant costs for some advertisers while larger companies can afford the time to make dedicated landing pages, and so get their adverts even higher in the order, or at a lower cost, than when they only had to bid higher.

This article was first published in the August 2006 edition of our monthly newsletter.

If you'd like to know more about the impact of these changes on your Google AdWords campaign, please contact us for more details. Alternatively, please request a FREE website assessment and see what you could achieve with a successful search engine marketing campaign.