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Adwords Quality Score now includes rating of Landing Page
"looks at the content and layout of the pages linked from your ads"

 11:16 pm on Dec 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

From Inside Adwords [adwords.blogspot.com]:
In August, we introduced the Quality Score along with the launch of quality-based minimum bids, letting you know that we evaluate many factors, such as your ad text and clickthrough rate (CTR) to determine the minimum bid for your keyword. Today, we started incorporating a new factor into the Quality Score -- the landing page -- which will look at the content and layout of the pages linked from your ads.

Guidelines for landing pages [adwords.google.com]



 11:36 pm on Dec 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, here's hoping they inspect all the landing pages at auction sites and department store chains and start knocking their positions down. Won't hold my breath though...


 11:48 pm on Dec 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

They already spider destination URL's to check that the link works -- I suppose they've been analyzing those pages to work out a landing page quality algorithm.

I suppose they'll be amending the Program Terms to prohibit the advertiser from disallowing googlebot on landing pages? Or would the landing page score just be a zero?


 1:04 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think this is really great news for quality!

Not sure what the issue is with "department stores and EBay"? Can you elaborate?

Maybe you are referring to the non-targeted keyword-substitution ads that are so prevalent? Most of these are actually ads placed by lazy affiliates, not by the stores themselves.

A lot of these don't land you on a specific product page. Here's a couple of the worst that I've seen:

<ads removed>

I just checked and the first one still displays. The second one doesn't. Instead, when I search for "anything", I get:

<ads removed>

Not so sure that this is a step forward! :)

And if I see one more:

We Have All the <whatever>

ad for <removed>, I am going to scream!

So, this is going to kill-off a lot of these ads that promise widgets but land you on a home page, or at best a search page looking for widgets.

It's also going to anger a lot of the affiliate crowd that run their own websites and are too lazy to at least run a product-feed script. I've noticed quite a few that land you on a page packed with one-line product descriptions. They are going to have to get busy and build actual product pages with some depth to them.

[edited by: eWhisper at 4:30 am (utc) on Dec. 9, 2005]


 1:48 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Cloaking for Adwords anyone?


 2:31 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, this has had an immediate and sweeping effect.

As of a couple of hours ago, mysite.com/Amazon type of affiliate ads are nowhere to be seen on Google. There are a handful of the ones that don't include the /Amazon in the path that have well-designed landing pages that are still being displayed.

I don't think anyone is going to be able to get away with landing on a huge list of product names any more. At minimum, they are going to have to land on a product detail page, and even then this is going to be a problem because these are often less detailed than the retailer's own detail page. (For example, I think the Amazon 1-second rule limits the number of reviews one can practically retrieve.)

I wonder if, at the same time, Google also stopped allowing the mysite.com/Amazon type of display URLs? Or perhaps it's just that most of the people doing this just have darn irrelevant landing pages?

I'm assuming that the same thing has happened with affiliates of other online retailers who were using product feeds on their own websites.

While I haven't seen a surge in clicks, I haven't seen them diminish, either. (I link directly to Amazon from my ads.)

Do a search for a book, and you are going to see a much less cluttered landscape.

Cloaking would almost certainly be a violation of the TOS. I don't think I'd want to be banned by Google for posterity.


 2:33 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is a step in the right direction. Now that they have sufficient number of advertisers they can be picky about which advertisers can advertise on Google. I only hope that this quality initiative carries forward to AdSense too. In my opinion AdSense was in greater need of this.

Does this mean that the time taken for approval is going to increase exponentially or this rating of landing page is going to be automated.


 2:47 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually, my understanding is that, previously, landing pages WERE checked, manually. But it was just a go/no go check. Either it was deemed relevant or not relevant. If it was not relevant, the ad would be disapproved.

I think that what they are doing now must be automated. They all got shut off so quickly.

Maybe I will give Adsense another try. I didn't have much luck with it when I first started, so I haven't bothered with it since.


 3:52 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Hmm , have to wait and see how this turns up!.


 5:47 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Their "landing page robot" must suck.

A couple of my landing pages are 95% more relavant and informative than most my competitors.

Still they want at least $0.60 cents, when all the bids have been at 0.15 cents for the last 2 years.

I mean when I talk about relavant, If you were searching for: (just an example)

"Greenish Blue Aliens from Zorgus that smell like broccoli"

My landing page explains all about Greenish Blue Aliens from Zorgus that smell like brocolli, it would have the keywords "Greenish Blue Aliens from Zorgus that smell like broccoli" bold on on top, it would have a paragraph or two about "Greenish Blue Aliens from Zorgus that smell like broccoli"...etc.

running scared

 8:46 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

This could be the most significant development to AdWords since the move to the CPC model. It is a major milestone in making AW results more useful to the user but it is probably also going to make the AW black hatter more common.

I expect this will create a large barrier to entry for many. First time advertisers will get their fingers burnt and there will be many more who form the opinion that AW does not work.

Companies are going to need more resource to manage campaigns.


 10:34 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Ah, Google search result pages are SUCH a more placid place tonight!

Are those bulldozers I hear? And dumptrucks? Yes, a LONG line of dumptrucks!

I disagree that this is going to make entry more difficult. I think it will make it more easy. Assuming you have a real product to sell, a useful website to send people to, or some real value to add - even if the only value you bring is to write good, product-specific copy, landing on specific product information, as opposed to cookie-cutter keyword substitution that lands users in no-mans-land and having to do another search after they've landed.

It's going to save legitimate advertisers a lot of wasted money. Google has gotten some guts. They are now refusing to take stupid people's money. They are not being evil.

Google does try to pound in the relevance message, but so many just do not get it. They generate junk content-free ads with broad matches and keyword substitutions. They try to pull scammy tricks. They think the way to get a better position is with a higher bid.

I do feel for the advertiser who has a single product, and has virgin keywords or the system has some glitch that is giving a high min. bid to their keywords. They don't have many options.

If you have a bunch of specific products to advertise, you can just walk away from the ones that you have a problem with. Google does still need to do some work addressing the needs of the one-trick ponies.

Kings on steeds

 11:10 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

From Google

Moreover, I would like to mention that if it does happen that we cannot analyse a website for any reason, it will not have an adverse affect on your Quality Score. In these instances, the website will simply not be taken into account as a determining factor.

so those who have crap sites, just add a robots.txt file to your dir ban bann all bots

Tropical Island

 11:40 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Actually, my understanding is that, previously, landing pages WERE checked, manually.

Certainly not for the last two months. I have spent hours blocking "Made for AdSense" sites that were using AdWords to get into the system. These sites and landing pages were nothing but sponsored links from AdWords or Over/Yahoo - no content. Even under the old rules they should never have been allowed.

Hopefully as both an advertiser and publisher we will now see a reduction in these sites.

They also appear to be going after the info harvesters as well with the requirement that there has to be a summary of the info inside the site before requiring sign-up. I will still block this type of site if they show up.

This is not going to eliminate the problem but it certainly will help.


 11:44 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

This sounds like good news but I would like to know exactly what they take into account on the landing pages. Is the process completely automated?


 12:16 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

It's about making things more obscure and using that to skim more profit.

Adsense publishers now have a smartpricing factor based on actual conversions but also on a lot of other mumbo-jumbo... an undisclosed factor. Now the price of your Adwords depends on CTR, price and some unknown factor.

Unknown factors at both ends can be tweaked as an when necessary to raise income to meet any publicly disclosed quarterly reports which the analysts keep a close eye on.


 1:39 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

From the Google AdWords Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines:

"The guidelines below arenít hard-and-fast rules, nor are they exhaustive. However, they do reflect the site quality principles we'll incorporate into factors such as ad approval status and Quality Score."

Call me cynical, but besides the stated goal of improving relevency, there are other things that Google could selfishly employ by including the landing page in the quality score analysis.

Some examples:

Google could degrade the quality score of websites who have Yahoo publisher or Chitika ads on them.

Google could favor websites which have Google organic search on them over sites who do not.

A non-favored political candidate or political party's ads could have its quality score downgraded in favor of their opponents.

Besides telling advertisers what factors Google will consider, it might be in Googles best interest to state some factors which it will NOT consider in the score such as the types of examples mentioned above.

Its Google's system, not a public utility, and I respect their preogititve to do whatever they want. But I am not sure adding another layer of ambiguity rather than adding more transpareny for advertisers in the bidding process is really the best move Google can make in its own self interest.


 2:26 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

For one of my superb performing keywords (this is actually kind of funny), my relavant landing page that talks all about the keyword and also has a great layout/talk accuratly about the product/etc. - got replaced by an ebay irrelavant ad. You know what kind of ebay ad I am talking about too! You know the keywords that are not possible to even sell on ebay!

Buy President Bush On Ebay
Buy Sad on Ebay
Buy internet on ebay
Buy wife on ebay
etc, etc, etc

Yup, my ad which has maintained the number 2 position for about 2 years, got replaced by another irrelavant ebay ad.

Nice robot adwords. This is a robot inspecting our landing pages correct? I would hope so, because I hope Google wouldn't hire somebody that stupid. I think the robot needs some work.


 2:35 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Looks like the new algo is all screwed-up. I'm seeing more irrelevant ads than before.


 2:39 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

This is a complete joke. So much for a free market. If anyone is new to AdWords and just wants to test it out for their mom & pop shop this may seriously deter their efforts. Luckily this won't really effect me, but for some this could be devastating and I feel for them.

Google is turning more and more into a "pay to play" type of thing, only leaving the door open for someone who isn't as greedy and no intentions of going public and keep things obscure to come in and take them out.

running scared

 2:40 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Moreover, I would like to mention that if it does happen that we cannot analyse a website for any reason, it will not have an adverse affect on your Quality Score. In these instances, the website will simply not be taken into account as a determining factor.

This raises a few questions:

Is this new factor in QS simply a potentially negative one? (e.g. it has a max score of 1 and you will be scored as 1 unless they find something to decrease it)

Or is it a case of being able to have positive and negative effects (e.g. the average score is 1 but you can have a higher or lower one - in the case of them not being able to analyse your page, you get a score of 1 (not adverse but not positive either))

How big a change this all is boils down to how far the relevance algorithm goes. Where is the algorithm on the spectrum of a few simple quality checks to a full scale search engine-style algorithm?

From Inside Adwords:
Advertisers who are providing robust and relevant content will see little change. However, for those who are providing a less positive user experience...

The wording of this quote and the one above might suggest that the algorithm is closer to the quality check end of the spectrum but I would not bet my livelihood on that!


 3:05 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. What if you have a landing page that rocks on conversions and they don't like it? You have to then pay more to keep it at the same level or lose rank. I am so sick of Google thinking they know what everybody is thinking. They are so arrogant. They are trying to dictate to us the way are sites need to look. They already do it in organic and now PPC. If I want to buy a TV there is a list of things I canít do but other than that I can make the stupidest commercial I want and as long as I pay the fee my ad runs when and where I want it.


 3:11 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I am so sick of Google thinking they know what everybody is thinking. They are so arrogant. They are trying to dictate to us the way are sites need to look.

This needs to be repeated, it was good.


 3:12 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)


Exactly, why wouldn't they go by your cost per conversion as well?

I had great cost per conversions with most of the keywords they want $1.00-$5.00 per click now (as of yesterday)! Wouldn't they put one and one together, and realize if I had a really great conversion rate, then my landing page must be relavant!

This makes me sick.


 3:18 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)


it'd be good if you could possibly shed some light on this if you can.



 3:36 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

keep diggin that hole G ... keeps gettin bigger and bigger!


 3:46 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Well, it's not so great to have a computer thinking it knows best. At midnight last night almost all of my Google ads were deemed 'inactive' and are now requiring bids of up to $10. These are ads that have been active for over a year on Google, and my website has been up and doing well for over a year. I have relevant landing pages for every ad, they all post the correct prices and have good information, but for some reason now I do not get to bid on google.

I just called Google support and the rep at first tried to tell me that my keywords this time of year must just be in demand and the prices have gone up. I asked her to check my ads and my website and tell me why yesterday the keyword "keyword" was fine at 0.18 and got 70 clicks, but today is requiring a minimum cpc of $10? She could not answer that, she is now escalating it to someone else (I hope) and the only consensus is that the little google robot made a mistake.

On a Friday 2 weeks before Christmas is NOT a good time to be changing anything. They are going to lose a lot of money this way. Good thing I didn't quit my day job!

[edited by: eWhisper at 4:18 pm (utc) on Dec. 9, 2005]
[edit reason] Please don't include keywords in specifics [/edit]


 3:52 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

If the accountants / brilliant but naive 20yo techies keep making crap decisions like this in the 'plex, it's all over for them - whatever happened to "Keep it Simple"?

This is extremely arrogant to presume to know that "we know best what works". You don't. Keep digging.


 4:12 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

[I say the following with the utmost respect for those who create well thought out landing pages and experiences for their users, and with an understanding that Google's implementation of this feature is imperfect and is likely to improve drastically over time.]

Waaaaaah, Google's examining my landing page for relevancy, waaaah.

Grow up and be a man!

Google has 65% of the global search market ***because it continues to out-monetize anything else out there***; it got the that point primarily by factoring in CTR. Lest we forget, Google is the shizzle because it provides all of us huge volumes of high-quality traffic - and you can get that volume of quality traffic without being the best search system in the world.

Now that Google has correctly understood that ad copy is easily manipulated and therefore a poor proxy for a good user experience, Google is examing the landing page itself. This makes perfect sense for Google, perfect sense for the searcher, and perfect sense for the progression of the search marketing industry towards better ad targeting, better websites and higher conversion rates.

IMO, this is a first step towards Google becoming a revenue share-based search engine, and those who are whining about this should focus on giving feedback to Google that will ensure *proper implementation* of a change whose result will be to push advertisers to increase conversion rates and focus on the user experience.



 4:23 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

here in the usa for several weeks i notice that a google search for jokes would display 4 to 6 unrelated ads --- ads mostly for payday loans, insurance or the usual high end stuff

today i only see 2 ads and they are still unrelated as they are for computers for sale

i have highly related ads and landing pages for jokes in an active campaign, but my bids are below activation levels

must raise bids to 20 cents to activate and if you know the humour industry you know that's out of the question --- truth is, back when the old adwords model was in place my ads would have been active at 5 cents

this is a rare case because at 5 cents you would rarely see relative ads because the joke market is high volume / low profits

i wonder if google will ever take a stand for having relative ads / landing pages for keywords and simply let the market determine what the minimum bid should be --- can anyone see this differently than me?

What does it matter if keywords like weather, jokes, mapquest and dictionary can only command low bids (on relevant ads) What does it matter if they are bid at even a penny - two - three - or four. We all know the end user and the advertisers will be served better by relavant ads / landing pages and i suspect the higher ctr produced by relavant ads will make up for the difference in bid prices

does adwords doubt that a highly relevant ad for jokes will pull 10 or 20 times better than some ad for insurance? So what if the insurance guy is paying 20 cents per click. I guarantee I can run joke ads all day long - pay 2 cents and make google more money - and can probably do it at a penny

i know AWA reads these threads and i know he gives feedback to the powers that be. This could be a good day. This could be the day this post gets filed in the no-brainer bin :)

I know Google does lots of number crunching, but my numbers say this concept will fly. It may not produce significant revenue improvements by itself. But it should hold it's own and the goodwill and overall better service it provides the end user, the advertiser and yes, even the publisher will be significant.

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