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Sudden Drop Down In Ranks
foxnick




msg:1137306
 4:23 pm on Jun 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hello,

Is anyone noticing a ranking problem on Google this weekend. We are usually number 1,2 or 3 with the majority of our keywords. Suddenly we are number 6 or 7 and other competitors that are usually very low are now number 1 or 2. Seems like everything has been reversed.

Anyone else with the same problem?

Thanks,

NF

 

BadWolf




msg:1137307
 5:43 pm on Jun 26, 2005 (gmt 0)

Yes, I have exactly this problem!

eyeinthesky




msg:1137308
 6:16 am on Jun 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Same problem here. Did not do anything and yet my rankings drop like a stone.

Another funny thing happened when I decided to change my URL (I've resisted changing because of a fear of droping down the ranks but since I've already dropped...).

Guess what? My rankings jumped right back up. But not for long, the next day, it is all back to normal.

What's happening? I think there could be a change in algo (sort of testing over the weekend).

Murdoch




msg:1137309
 2:39 pm on Jun 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is the thread I am looking for...

Has anyone figured out what caused this and/or how to fix it yet? Our ranks are still 8 to 15 places below where they used to be (usually #1) and we haven't touched anything all weekend. Thanks!

Murdoch




msg:1137310
 2:59 pm on Jun 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Also annoying is the fact that Adwords is showing my Average Position for today at 1.8 for a keyword I am consistently coming up at 10th place for. Is there anything in this program that I can actually take stock in its authenticity?

scout




msg:1137311
 3:29 pm on Jun 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Happening for us as well. We're almost always in first or second positions for hundreds of keywords. This morning we're in 4 thru 8 positions. CTR is still high and we're getting traffic. Maybe some sort of issue with geographic locales? People in other parts of the country are seeing our ads in first.

Murdoch




msg:1137312
 3:37 pm on Jun 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

I definitely think you're right scout. That would explain why our AP still reads as normal. Our campaigns dedicated to other countries are still running as normal. New regional coding perhaps? We have people looking into it but contacting Google Support via e-mail is like waiting for the second coming of Christ.

MLHmptn




msg:1137313
 8:34 pm on Jun 27, 2005 (gmt 0)

Something is definitely wrong with CPC and positioning! Before they implemented their changes this weekend I was paying $.45 per click and I was in the premier listing. Now I am on the 4th page if you search via the default 10 results per page. Is this something new Google is implementing? I don't see too many webmasters or companies sticking with adwords if Google gives everyone equal rankings regardless of CPC. I don't know about most of you but if they don't fix it soon my adwords accounts will be deleted!

Overture isn't broke!

Murdoch




msg:1137314
 1:45 pm on Jun 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

Whatever is happening with Adwords it is certainly regional, at least with our account. From our own IP we come in anywhere from 10th to not even visible when previously we were always number 1, 2 or 3. However from our consultant's office in Denver we are still showing our normal rankings, and even as close as Boston (we are in Maine) we are showing different positions as well. I'm not sure what Google is doing to remedy this situation but it makes a lot of our reporting abilities null and void. I will once again try to contact Google Support but I won't hold my breath for a reply.

eyeinthesky




msg:1137315
 12:20 am on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google support doesn't know anything about this issue. My rankings are fluctuating like a sampan caught in a Tsunami.

Can AWA help?

MLHmptn




msg:1137316
 6:18 am on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

AWA? What is going on?! My campaigns are all now paused until further notice.....

Funny how my sites that are not even closely related to what I pay adwords for are now outranking my totally related sites! What's the deal?! I'm paying $.25/click for my unrelated site and $.55/click for my 100% related site per click but yet my unrelated site is outranking my related site! What's the deal!?

Overture campaign's are going full throttle!

Murdoch




msg:1137317
 4:52 pm on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

This may or may not work for everybody but you can use your Internet Explorer "tools" drop down menu and select Internet Options and then Connections and then Lan Settings at which point you can enter in a public proxy server number into the IP address in order to view your listings from another part of the country or even world. I realize this is not a permanent fix but it will give you an idea if the problem is indeed regionally based (as it is with us) and this way you can check out your standings in Ohio or Taiwan!

scout




msg:1137318
 6:01 pm on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Wild guess -

Google started applying the CTR algo down to the IP level. When you are constantly searching position on your own ads, but not clicking them, your ads have a very poor relative CTR rank, thus Google is actually lowering the position of your ads for just your IP.

Sound crazy?

Murdoch




msg:1137319
 6:23 pm on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

This doesn't sounds crazy at all. It makes perfect sense actually but it certainly doesn't help us. We constantly do reports on our own rankings versus those of nearby competitors with pricing info as we are in a very competetive market. It must use the regional IP code since we get the same listings within 50 miles of our location but outside of that the listings remain normal. If Google had a way to exempt the algo concerning the IP of the advertising company this would make more sense (or if there was a search code that eliminated the addition of impressions altogether) since I consider proximity to be a major factor in determining conversion. I would add this to the Things I'd Like to See in Google thread but I'm not sure if this is exactly the problem. Your thoughts...

scout




msg:1137320
 8:23 pm on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

We've only noticed it on our own IP. We can search from other IPs in our area and get normal results.

AdWordsAdvisor




msg:1137321
 10:41 pm on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can AWA help?

Hi all,

I've been hanging back on replying in this thread, until I have a more formal answer in hand for you, which I now have.

As I've mentioned in past threads, in June of 2004 AdWords announced a "series of ad quality improvements designed to provide the most relevant, targeted ads possible". What you are seeing in your accounts is almost certainly the result of one such recent change, in a series of ongoing changes, which are all focused on showing the most relevant ads to the right users.

In response to the many posts here on WebmasterWorld, as well as a number advertiser emails we've received on the same topic, we've written a brief response, which I'll quote below.

As part of our ongoing effort to improve the user experience, we've made recent enhancements that might have affected the ranking of your ads.

These system changes are designed to show your ads to users who are more likely to click on them, thus driving more qualified traffic to your site. For this reason, your ads might be shown in different positions to different users depending on search behavior, such as the user's location and search query. Even though your ad's rank might be lower in some cases, your overall campaign results - such as average position, clickthrough rate (CTR), impressions, and spend - should be improved. Therefore, we encourage you to focus on your campaign statistics to better understand your ad's performance.

To set reasonable expectations, please know that I'll not be able to post with additional - or more specific - details. As with any business which has an obligation to protect the integrity of its system, details of the 'inner workings' will not always be publicly available.

Sorry to have been so long in responding, and I hope this post will set minds at ease. I strongly believe that it is the overall ad performance that matters most, rather than individual impressions, and that it is to everyone's advantage to show the best ad to users who are the most likely to click.

AWA

eyeinthesky




msg:1137322
 11:41 pm on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks, AWA :)

That confirms our suspicion of an algo change. The problem is if we cannot view the positions of our ads accurately, then it is going to be difficult to adjust our bids.

Guess we have to rely on the "Avg. Pos" stats but I doubt that is accurate.

AdWordsAdvisor




msg:1137323
 11:48 pm on Jun 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

Thanks, AWA :)

That confirms our suspicion of an algo change. The problem is if we can view the positions of our ads accurately, then it is going to be difficult to adjust our bids.

Guess we have to rely on the "Avg. Pos" stats but I doubt that is accurate.

Sure thing, eyeinthesky.

I'd argue (though in friendly way, of course!) that the stats are accurate. In fact, they're an exact accounting of what actually happened - and should not be mistaken for an estimate. ;)

AWA

MLHmptn




msg:1137324
 3:42 am on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

So in essence we cannot pay for the top spot anymore? Google is going to simply put us where they want to dependent on what they think the search user is looking for? I am completely lost on this! Why don't we all just get charged .10 per click then? I really don't want to pay .55 per click and be listed on the second page for that click! Is google going to charge us less for that click then or? I mean don't get me wrong here but it seems to me Google is deciding what they are going to give you for your money. How can Google think this is appropriate? We all bid for placement (which after all is why we set a budget and CPC), why should top bidders be in the same boat as the minimum spenders? Google should definitely rethink their thought process here. I can only imagine the millions of adwords advertisers that are going to be extremely displeased with this. My companies ROI this week is like half of what it usually is as well. Only time will tell if this is related but if it is I can almost assure you we will be cutting back on adwords.

Thank you though for the explanation....

MLHmptn

mark1111




msg:1137325
 8:26 am on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Google's obsession with secrecy is bad enough, but when you can't even do a search and see your ad in the position you expect, and you're told they're doing it for your own good, it really comes across as pretty arrogant.

I did a search for a keyword where my stats say the average position is 2.7, but it shows up in position 12. The max cpc is 40 cents, but I'm only being charged 9 cents. What's the point of this?

"Even though your ad's rank might be lower in some cases, your overall campaign results - such as average position, clickthrough rate (CTR), impressions, and spend - should be improved." I'd have to be in position 1 for a solid month to counteract the effect of position 12 and have an average of 2.7. When does that happen? "Oh, but somewhere it's *already* in position 1--you just can't see it."

"Therefore, we encourage you to focus on your campaign statistics to better understand your ad's performance." In other words, "Leave it all to us and don't worry your head about it or ask any questions--just believe the stats we show you, even though they don't correspond to what you see. Everything is fine."

You have to wonder just how out of touch Google is. Do they really think they can make any changes they want, hide everything they're doing, and expect people to trust them--because they're Google and their motto is "Don't be evil"? Trust is based on transparency. Do they really think they can say, in June 2004, "Oh, by the way, we're going to be making some enhancements to our system," and then a year later, without any notification, pull something like this--and when asked, say, "Well, we told you a year ago we were going to be making enhancements--remember?"

Instead of "Don't be evil," Google's motto should be "Give us open access to your bank account, take what we give you, and don't ask any questions."

When does MSN paid search come online?

scout




msg:1137326
 1:02 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

My fear is that the net result of this action is going to be more CPC inflation. A certain amount of advertisers will overreact when seeing their ads in lower positions and will increase their bids based upon a visual check of their ad positions, and then more advertisers follow suit, ultimately kicking off an unnecessary bidding war. Perhaps Google knows this.

Surely Google has a way of exempting certain IP addresses from this new algo update. In addition, Google is going to be bombarded with questions from advertisers as to "Why are my ads out of position?" This truly will be a customer service quagmire for them. I predict that this board will be lit up with posts about keywords being out of position and stats not agreeing with search results. I'd hate to be a Google rep right now.

On the flip side, the whole Google CTR equation definitely works to our advantage. It reduces what I call "cowboy bidders" or dumb money that you see at "the other search engine". But with that said, we really, really need a fix on this local IP problem. We rely very heavily on visual search results. It helps us modify ad copy according to what competitors are doing, let's us know who we're competing against, and gives us a quick and efficient way of checking bid placements without having to login and navigate the maze of campaigns and ad groups to made adjustments.

Looks like I'm going to have to do all my Google bidding from home now. My wife is really going to appreciate that.

Murdoch




msg:1137327
 1:27 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I'll admit that this doesn't irritate me as much as some of you, as it hasn't exactly hurt our overall production (yet) but something remains unexplained...

As part of our ongoing effort to improve the user experience, we've made recent enhancements that might have affected the ranking of your ads.
These system changes are designed to show your ads to users who are more likely to click on them, thus driving more qualified traffic to your site. For this reason, your ads might be shown in different positions to different users depending on search behavior, such as the user's location and search query. Even though your ad's rank might be lower in some cases, your overall campaign results - such as average position, clickthrough rate (CTR), impressions, and spend - should be improved. Therefore, we encourage you to focus on your campaign statistics to better understand your ad's performance.

Our company constantly checks our own standings in Google with a series of search queries on our keywords in comparison to our competitors, to show where they are and what their prices are. We never, and this is key, never click on ANY of the results, including our own or the competition (we do not promote click fraud) and instead will just cut and paste the URL into the address bar. I would like to think that Google would consider this an acceptable practice since we do not plan on purchasing the services of the websites in question, and therefore do not want to impose any unnecessary costs, even on our opponents. If this is the case, and the new algo depends on user location and search behavior then someone answer these questions...

1. If we are constantly searching for results based upon our market, but never clicking on any one, why would the listings change?

2. If the only area so far noticably affected is our own (see above post as to how to view your listings from another part of the country), and our company is IN THIS AREA, then how is this possibly beneficial?

It seems to me that the algo is doing the exact opposite of what it should be theoretically doing. This has completely rearranged our reporting techniques (admittedly we've adapted quickly) and now the answer to our question is to trust the statistics you give us regardless of the fact that they are inaccurate?

Like I said above, I'm not so upset since production is still on par, but if you really want us to believe your statistics, and the statistics are now based on location as well as the former factors, then you MUST give us a choice of what location we want to see the statistics for (i.e.-If I log into Adwords under a specific IP address it should give me the option to view overall stats or just the ones for that IP address) otherwise as far as I'm concerned you're lying.

AWA, you've always been an integral part of this forum, providing us with as much information as you can, and for that we are grateful. But what you are asking us to do, to trust numbers that do not reflect our own data, is impossible. People will not tolerate this for much longer, especially since MSN is getting ready to roll out their new paid search.

scout




msg:1137328
 1:37 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I do want to note that I believe that Google is trying to do what's in the best interest of their customers by providing more relevent search results. I have to believe that this algo update had unintended consequences for advertisers and that their is not an easy fix from their end. I do not believe in Google conspiracy theories, as many advertisers on this board appear to. I think we should all refrain from harsh rhetoric, and keep the board positive, but at the same time provide our constructive feedback to Google. This board has been an incredibly useful tool and tremendous source of knowledge. I would hate to see Google and AWA stop participating in it because the board has been turned into a flaming forum.

Dr_X




msg:1137329
 1:58 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is just another example of Google making changes without warning. Saying somewhere that they reserve the right to make changes does not negate the fact that they do it without a specific warning.

I DID think something was wrong with my ads. Since Google reps reaction time is extremely slow, all I could do was make adjustments thinking that competition was adjusting their bids. So again, Google changes were unexpected and my costs went up. It's getting very difficult to justify my expenses to the boss.

I can see the advantage of limiting an ad to regions that it's going to work in. I really do understand this. And I say thank you to Google for this opportunity (even though it really isn't meant to benefit the advertiser, but it does), however, without warning, getting slammed with a big bill is irritating and only nudges me further away from using the system.

Why can't Google just announce that they are going to make a change starting with *date*? They don't have to say what change it's going to be. I understand the need for secrecy in algo. Just some warning so we understand that our stats may be deceiving for a short time. No (over) reactions on our parts.

I've had to set all my cpc's to .05 to make up for the loss (doubt that will work though). Last time they sprang out a change like that, I had to pause all my ads 'cuz I couldn't afford it anymore. I hope I don't have to do the same thing this time. I can't just keep throwing good money after bad (always wondered what that phrase meant. Google just showed me and I didn't have to do a search.)

Anyways, maybe I should have posted to the wish list thread.
-Dr.X

Murdoch




msg:1137330
 2:04 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

I do want to note that I believe that Google is trying to do what's in the best interest of their customers by providing more relevent search results. I have to believe that this algo update had unintended consequences for advertisers and that their is not an easy fix from their end.

I am all for Google delivering relevant results to people, and like I said above I am personally not bothered since on an ROI level it's business as usual around here, but, and I am genuinely curious here, how long do you think people will wait for this to be fixed and don't you think we should be given a choice of results by IP as well as overall? I believe this would calm some people down.

Don't get me wrong. I love Google. Our company has made a lot of money using it (keep in mind that our company was also making a lot of money BEFORE getting on Google too) but the little guy who got messed with on Natural Results due to Bourbon and is now getting messed with on Adwords will not continue to advertise if they believe they are just getting pushed around.

Lets hope that Google does indeed put priority into fixing this, although with their new lawsuit they may be slightly distracted...

eWhisper




msg:1137331
 4:10 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

The 'new ad formulas' and 'ad rank formulas' have been floating around here for quite a while.

I had a chance to have an extended conversation at the WebmasterWorld conference with one of the AdWords engineers, and he clarified a lot of these issues.

When AWA says 'it depends' in the formula, it's very accurate information.

Basically, the formula is the same (CTR x max CPC).

Depending on ip addresses, keyword query, search history, geographic qualifiers, etc, etc, etc, other filters may be applied to the formula for ad visibility and rank.

However, the formula for filtering is fairly complicated, so there may be 0 filters applied or 25+ on any query.

There's not a conspiracy in all this formula mystery, Google is trying todo what is best for most advertisers. The problem comes in when people (such as found on this board) are trying to determine every factor to control their ad. Google isn't built for that level of transparency, which is where advertiser frustration often settles in.

I'd like to know exactly how and why filters are applied, but I don't think there are too many people who actually understand the entire system, and it might take a team of engineers to truly understand what happens in certain situations.

elsewhen




msg:1137332
 4:58 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

how long do you think people will wait for this to be fixed and don't you think we should be given a choice of results by IP as well as overall?

i don't think that stats-by-ip would solve the problem you are havning... the filters that google is applying are not just geo-based, they are based on all sorts of other factors.

this is directly from AWA:

your ads might be shown in different positions to different users depending on search behavior, such as the user's location and search query.

only google knows the exact nature of these additional factors. the operative words in AWAs quote is "such as" which opens the door to all sorts of factors.

scout




msg:1137333
 5:10 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

As an advertiser, my main frustration with this is not being able to tell what positions my competitors are in. Knowing the competitors in front of and behind us is key to the proper competitive positioning of our ads.

Murdoch




msg:1137334
 5:36 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

i don't think that stats-by-ip would solve the problem you are havning... the filters that google is applying are not just geo-based, they are based on all sorts of other factors.

Honestly I don't think it would solve the problem either, but at least it would make me more trusting of the information I see on a search as opposed to the information I see on Adwords. Not only that but it would help me focus on what areas of the country need improvement and what areas are already doing well. This is prime marketing research we're talking about.

AWA admitted to us that one of the factors is user location. What I infer from that is that the new algo is leaning more heavily on being geo-based. I know there are other factors, that is to be assumed, but the factors are not evenly spread in terms of importance. Some take more precedence than others.

As an advertiser, my main frustration with this is not being able to tell what positions my competitors are in. Knowing the competitors in front of and behind us is key to the proper competitive positioning of our ads.

This is indeed frustrating as I base a lot of my technique on the same parameters. Another thing that is frustrating to me is explaining to my boss why we are suddenly #12 on 600 keywords we were #1 on just a week ago. A lot of people will lose their jobs over this kind of thing. I'm lucky enough to have this forum to go to in order to rap with all y'all in order to figure out how best to go about all of this. I realize that it is not Google's job to tell us what they are changing, or what works and what doesn't. But people are going to continue to be extremely pissed off if they look at Adwords and see an Avg. Pos of 1.8 and then consistently see their ad at #12. If Google is indeed targeting individual locations or even individual IPs then all the better, but since the info is there we should have an option to look at it. It's not like I'm asking to see how the algo works, I'm just asking to see the results.

Paul_N




msg:1137335
 7:54 pm on Jun 30, 2005 (gmt 0)

Can someone tell me how Google decides what ads are more relevant to a searcher in this new algo change?

I mean are we talking regionally targeted ads are going to start out ranking nationally targeted, almost regardless of CPC/performance?

I don't know about you, but if I want to search for particular product, I would rather get the best price across the nation rather than the price of a company near by, just because they happen to be local.

Why is the local ad considered the most relevant? Because in my example, it quite possibly (and most probably often) is not the case.

Is this in fact how it works now? If so, I can see a benefit for regional advertisers, but not for national advertisers i.e. those who specify just a country in their campaigns.

If an ad Google deems more relevant is actually irrelevant to searchers (determined by it's CTR), will the ad still get preferential treatment even though it is performing worse than other ads below it?

Also, one of the benefits of Adwords over Overture is that reporting is updated frequently, and adjustments can be made based on the positions we see in our reports. Does this new algo change mean that ad rankings are now inaccurate almost until the whole day is over?

And even then, how accurate are our reports actually going to be from now on? They're off at the best of times, but now!

I'm seeing ads of mine in position 1, and my reports say position 5. I don't want to be in position 1 but Google seems to have decided it will go there (I'm talking above the free results here). This will probably result in lower conversions per click for me. Not what I want, but exactly want Google wants (more clicks).

But someone else might see my ad in position 10, so I can't lower my bid because I will drop even lower for these people.

I'm sorry, but this is meddling too far. I can see a lot of frustrated advertisers here. And as someone posted previously, I predict a CPC surge as advertisers panic.

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