Google AdWords Raises the Bar … and the Price

The “Google Dance” now has new meaning for Google’s AdWords customers. In their ever-evolving quest to better the Web, Google is now forcing their customers to not only write good, quality ads (using 2 lines of 35 characters each), but now their forcing them to link their ads to an equally high-quality landing page.

This means that the ad you see advertised in the right-hand column of your Google search results page will link you to a page that is actually selling the product it claims to be. At least it’s supposed to. Google used to rank the order of the ads by a formula that combined how much an advertiser is willing to pay, with how popular an ad appeared to be (by how many times someone clicked on it). Now, they’re factoring in how good the landing page your ad points to is.

Why this is significant

This has the potential to clean up misleading ads and reduce the spam in online ads. Cleaning up online garbage is always a good thing for the end user and is consistent with Google’s 10 Commandments-like Philosophy. Google placed this new landing page factor into their AdWords ranking scheme back in December. However, Google changed their algorithm earlier this month and that latest change has caused a barage of complaints. Why? It seems that Google deems that if your landing page isn’t of sufficient “quality” – they will charge you more – much more – per click. Some who were paying as little as $1 per click are now paying as much as $10 per click. Imagine what that does to their ROI. Even a 10% conversion rate will still drive their ROI down into the gutter.

What is Quality – Google Style

Google has published their own page of guidelines for helping to determine what constitutes a “quality” Web site. (Google’s even assigning something called a quality score to your page).

It all comes down to what all the good search engine marketers (SEM) have said all along: Quality is King. Write for your site visitors.

Google guidelines (the abridged version):

  • Have your ad link to the page in your site most relevant to the copy in your AdWords ad. Link directly to the product you’re advertising – don’t link to your home page or other “category” pages.
  • Have relevant and substantial unique content. Do not “borrow” copy from OEMs or distributors. Make sure your site is different from others’.
  • Visitors to your site should be able to “easily find what your ad promises.” In other words, practice good marketing and help the visitor follow the scent to what they’re looking for.
  • Treat personal information of your site visitors responsibly. Tell them why you’re collecting it and what you’ll do with it. Yes, if you place an AdWords ad, Google has a team of people who will manually check your site for a privacy policy.
  • Practice good Web design – good navigation, no pop-ups, annoying JavaScript that changes your site visitors’ browser windows or other settings.
  • Make sure your site adheres to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

It’s a tangled Web we er, they weave. Despite it all, the Web is still the most cost-effective vehicle for getting your meing branded image. What Google is doing is punishing the bad content providers and tricksters. In the end, theoretically speaking, it should clear the garbage and make life easier for the rest of us honest marketers.

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