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This 213 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 213 ( 1 2 3 4 5 [6] 7 8 > >     
Google AdWords: Landing Page Quality Update!

 2:55 am on Jul 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

"'.....From time-to-time, we improve our algorithms for evaluating landing page quality (often based on feedback from our end-users), and next week we're launching another such improvement. Thus, over the coming days a small number of advertisers who are providing a low quality user experience on their landing pages will see increases in their minimum bids. It is important to note, however, that the vast majority of advertisers will not be affected at all by this change, as they link to quality landing pages........"

At least this time Google is giving a heads up.



 1:35 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The only reason I ever used google was to find product info from the advertisers linked to the search term I was using. 9 times out of 10 when using their search engine I would ultimatley click an ad because they were 90% more pertinent to what I was looking for. Their serch results never came close to the ads displayed. So much for that now. I guess I will have to take my searches and my ad money elsewhere like everyone here will be doing.


 1:38 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

One other thing. Did they really think advertisers were going to up their bids to $10.00 a click? I would bet their ad revenue in the next 7 days won't equal a single day before this happened. Goodbye Google. Nice knowing ya...


 1:45 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think they know many won't which is why they jack it up to insane amounts. It's their way of banning ads without actually banning them.

That being said, I agree with you. I have a hard time believing they expected these changes to do this amount of damage, so when they notice their income dropping dramatically over the next few days, I have a feeling they're going to be a little more flexible on reverting back.

I'm just hoping that happens. Way too many big spenders were hit for them not to notice a dip in profits over this.


 1:48 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

We realize that some minimum bids may be too high to be cost-effective -- indeed, these high minimum bids are our way of motivating advertisers to either improve their landing pages or to simply stop using AdWords for those pages

The impression from the above quote from the adwords blog, as well as my adwords rep who simply shrugged it off as no big deal is that they really think this is an improvement, so don't look for it to change anytime soon.

Unfortunately, that also means we've been effectively priced out of google (nothing like losing a couple hundred grand in income annual overnight)....but luckily, they've still go eBay to cater to ;-)


 1:50 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't have a rep, are they really just shrugging this off? That's not good :(


 1:54 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I thought this morning was bad where 50% of my keywords were inactive for search. Now I am at 100% inactive for search. Let me increase all my bids to their suggested amount.....well maybe not. This site is not a MFA site either.


 1:55 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

you dont need a rep. from what i hear, they tell you everything you already know.

the only people who probably know whats going on are the engineers and the higher ups.


 1:57 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't have a rep, are they really just shrugging this off? That's not good

They have the last two times and the threads the last two times were twice as long. There will be no rollback. There will be no help from your reps. They do not want nor need your money.

The clicks that were going to your sites will simply go to the few sites left up. They don't loes out at all in the short term.

It does look like many, many more merchants were affected this time (as opposed to affiliates). That's not good for word of mouth.


 1:59 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

The problem I see is that even when you change landing pages, add quality content etc... Google may not improve your quality score. I had a site impacted by this same issue 3-4 months ago. I made significant changes to the site (including tripling the original content) and now 2-3 months later I am still unable to have my keywords active without paying $1-$10 per click.

If you want me to improve my site/content for the user then check my site after I have done it and allow me to advertise with a reasonable cost per click!


 2:07 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Of course, I doubt it's a coincidence that they made this dramatic of a change at the beginning of a financial quarter. That gives them just under three months to analyze the revenue loss taking place right now - try to find some other ways to cover it up on the books.

If things are this bad at the end of September, I'm definitely going to try to listen in to the earnings call in October.

I'm just a tiny AdWords advertiser, but I'd like to commend you big advertisers that are in the 4-5 figure per day range and are sticking to your guns (although it doesn't sound like G is going to give you a choice) and going to investigate other ad networks. It seems that the only option Google has left everyone with is to vote with their feet.


 2:08 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Seems to be an all or nothing kind of approach.

I just tried adding some nonsense keywords to my ad groups. all $5 or $10 min. spend.

Just like some other keywords which (I) thought were relevant, oh well.


 2:23 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I'm just a tiny AdWords advertiser, but I'd like to commend you big advertisers that are in the 4-5 figure per day range and are sticking to your guns (although it doesn't sound like G is going to give you a choice) and going to investigate other ad networks. It seems that the only option Google has left everyone with is to vote with their feet.

Not much choice at this point. Truly strong PPC campaigns take
months/years to filter and refine to maximum profitability. It's one thing to manipulate a site out of the free serps, it's something else altogether to destroy what amounts to thousands of man-hours of marketing research and customer acquisition processes in a matter of hours.

What, do you suppose, would happen if a major fortune 500 company were to suddenly discover that their primary source of customer acquisition had experienced and overnight cost increase exceeding 7000%? Do you think GM, Honda, or Toyota would be able to pass that cost onto the customer (as my less-than-informed adwords rep suggested), or do you think they would go under?

It is unfortunate (and, I might say, unethical) the flippant attitude that has been exhibited to me and other long-term adwords advertisers in regards to this sudden change.

In essence, the exhaulted adwords team is asking adwords merchants to:

1. Increase the "quality" of a page/site without knowing the standards to which must be met to be deemed "quality" (the vague instructions on their site not withstanding).


2. Throw any and all business sense out the window and allow them to increase ad rates so high as woudl neccessitate us charging $110 for an item tha only yesterday was $14. Think the customer's will mind us passing on that little price hike?

I never thought I would long for the day when Microsoft would start bundling msn search with vista....now it couldn't come too soon.


 2:31 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Haha, that would be funny if the big car companies suddenly started charging the smaller dealers $200k for a $10k car and not thinking anything of it.

Even if they charged $20k for a $10k car with the attitude "We don't mind losing a few small dealers in order to filter out the bad ones from the good ones". I'm sure that would go over real well. I'm surprised so many people just shrug off what Google just did like it's nothing. I know many people here aren't shrugging, but those at Google seem to be.


 2:32 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

And to quote their own employee via their adwords blog, "we would rather show one less ad" well I have a feeling that it is going to be a lot less than 1. He sure did have a lot of faith in the programmers there that only a few small ad guys would be affected. If this is as big as it seems to be it is going to be a very busy day for the adwords team tomorrow.


 2:35 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

"I just can't believe they have the nerve to say a "small" amount of advertisers have been effected. On EVERY Internet marketing forum I post at I see threads like this popping up like crazy within the last 24-48 hours."

Agreed! I read this on the Official Google AdWords blog, and called my account rep at Google as a preemptive measure. We went over my Account, Campaigns, Ad Groups, Keywords and Landing Pages. He agreed that our websites offers unique and quality content and that we should NOT have a problem.

The next morning, I awoke to see many of my keywords inactive for search. They wanted me to bid $10.00 for our most profitable and popular keywords.

This Algorithm Updated is Flawed!

Prima Facie Evidence is the fact our rep reviewed our site---before the update was implemented---and found nothing wrong with our setup. I trust a human more than a computer to make this kinds of judgements, so the algorithm must be flawed.

[edited by: RockSolidWes at 2:40 am (utc) on July 12, 2006]


 2:39 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Oh, cmon all, u keep forgetting that Google is a BETA - not just AdWords, AdSense, ... Google! ;) - one more thought b4 i get back to my Microsoft spending boost: G's definition of BETA (at which point they have the BETA label on the product logo) is "anything that doesnt make money" - at G it has nothing to do with the development stage of the product ... they are greedy ... they are evil ... Gevil ... i will smile the day is see BETA plastered over AdWords, AdSense and the Google homepage logos ... i just cant stop laughing now


 2:40 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Too bad the MSN PPC product is a prematurely birthed bug-ridden morass, it really has potential. I haven't even been able to access my account in the last two days... (rep suggestion: empty your temporary internet files!)

If they could fix the two main problems

1) buggy product
2) not enough traffic

they could really take a serious bite out of google after this fiasco (I lost 2 high CTR high conversion campaigns. They are already on MSN too but just the thought of trying to edit them makes me nauseous and they get less than a quarter of the adwords traffic).

Who knows, maybe overture can come back from the (half) dead this Fall?


 2:42 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the folks at Google mistakenly believe that their robots and algorithms can handle everything perfectly. Unfortunately, their systems are not quite there yet.


 2:43 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

oops - i forgot to mention the "Gevil" thing is not my idea - search and u shall find ... help ... it hurts ... laughing sooo hard


 2:44 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I wonder if an advertising boycott has ever happened...sure would hit all the news networks if one occured. I found out that google adwords IS penalizing affiliate sites that advertise. They site, not enough unique content, so they give the sites low quality scores. That really stinks. I guess this is going to hit affiliate networks hard.

If I had it my way, I would return to the days before this Quality Score farce started. Its ruined the predictability and dependability of advertising. As some have pointed out, it takes thousands of hours of pruning and thousands of invested dollars to get your campaign where you want it to be. Now Google has ruined that in ONE DAY. I would be willing to shut off my google advertising for a week if it would help.


 2:47 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

i am surprised actually, if i were eBay, this would be the perfect time to pull (temporarily, if contract permitting) my ads and create the press buzz needed ... does anyone here have friends "up the food chain at eBay"? ... mail them a link to this thread - lets use some BIG feet while we are using our own feet to vote


 3:07 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

One of our clients got hit today. Devastation. Almost all keywords disabled within a few hours. Rep eventually got us appealed and cleared, but not before losing a day's revenue.

This was a reputable client selling real services, NOT an arbitrager or an affiliate. They had recently redesigned their landing pages to make them convert better, using primarily graphics on the page to have a strong call to action, pleasing layout, etc. Very little text. Were told different stories by three different reps, natch.

One of the reps did confirm that they're using a bot to do the front-line evaluations, then following up with human spot checks (shoot first, ask questions later, right?) Since the bot didn't see any text, it penalized the site. Yes, that's right - the site. So that means that instead of the quality score being associated with the keywords individually, the penalty was hitting all keywords that referenced that domain. That's why the damage hits so quickly.

Confirmed that they said this is to weed out MFAs and arbitragers. Got the same party line about "we're interested in your feedback" but basically it's not going to stop.

Here's my beef:
- True to form, Google tries to engineer their way out of a problem that really should require them to do a better job of keeping their house clean, both from a legal and an editorial perspective. Rather than changing their AdSense terms and tightening up their current processes for editorial review, they tried to "bot" their way into a better world.
- True to form, Google kills a fly with a sledgehammer, making all advertisers suffer for the sins of a particular sect. Remember the rumors about the global API tax being a rather overdone solution to punish a few SEMs who were abusing the API?
- Their bot isn't working, and good heavens why would it? How the heck can you automate a subjective thing like landing page quality? Stupidest idea I've ever heard of.
- It would be fairly easy to trick the bot, using dynamic landing pages that populate content using the referral string, etc. No doubt many MFA sites already make content pages this way just because it's cheaper than building real content or making static pages.
- Finally, my landing pages are none of Google's g*ddammed business. If I want to buy ads and point them to pictures of my aunt's flying monkey butt, that's my business, not theirs. There is not a single advertising venue on the planet that tries to evaulate an advertisers' post-action experience, and certainly none that then use the experience to determine the advertisers' next insertion order pricing. What hubris! Whoever told them they had that kind of power, and that they have that right? There is simply no precedent in any other media company in history that I'm aware of. Can you imagine if print publications tried this crap? "Uh, Mr. Jones, we looked at the website that you referenced in your ad and we didn't really like it. My ad manager hates green, and you use a lot of green. So, we're going to raise your rates by about 10x next month."

Here's a fun idea for a solution: use old-style cloaking software to redirect your PPC landing pages. Hide your "real" pages that actually convert and look pretty and are under your control, but point the spiders to Amazon or eBay pages.

ha ha ha...
<borrows tinfoil hat, puts it on>

ps. Footnote for the conspiracy theorists on this board. Notice that Google is trying out a CPA model? And that they're killing off advertisers who are reselling leads? Coincidence? Hm....


 3:11 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Question for any google professionals who manage other company's accounts. How do you diplomaticly inform them that they have "low quality landing pages?" How do you convince them that it is not something that you did in managing their account?

Thanks in advance for any input.


 3:12 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just adding myself to the list of those effected.

80% of my campaigns all were made inactive with a required $1-$10 bid increase to re-instate them. Every campaign had high quality landing pages with very keyword targeted content.


 3:17 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

One half of our highly-targeted keywords have jumped in price, just today and yesterday and are now inactive No warning, no explanation. So, this will be the end of our using AdWords. If they think we will pay these prices, they are mistaken. We will instead pay them nothing.


 3:20 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

None of my six client accounts have been affected as yet. There's something over 7000 words total. One client had two words go inactive and need to be raised from $.30 to $.40. I have no explanation for this.

There is not a single advertising venue on the planet that tries to evaulate an advertisers' post-action experience

Not entirely true, otherwise those of us with Adsense on our sites wouldn't spend so much time chasing MFAs and other garbage ads OFF our sites.


 3:26 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well I feel slightly better after reading datgrrl's post saying that a rep went and re-activated many of the keywords. I'm hoping I can get that type of service tomorrow once I call them after I get the standard e-mail reply of 'Improve your quality score' i'm likely to receive.


 3:31 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Interestingly enough, I can't log in to my AdWords client center at the moment - it's just stuck on "loading".


 3:45 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

It would be fairly easy to trick the bot, using dynamic landing pages that populate content using the referral string, etc. No doubt many MFA sites already make content pages this way just because it's cheaper than building real content or making static pages.

Uh. No. You are assuming that the algo works strictly on the basis of on page characteristics of the landing page, because, of course, that's all the information we've been given.

You, and I think most people are missing the point that there are many OTHER things in addition to onpage factors that are likely coming into play to cause the increases. Google hasn't said they are NOT using other variables, and they aren't probably lying about onpage factors. They just are being incomplete.

So, no, I'm betting you can't necessary cloak. I'm also betting that some of the other factors involved include the identification of various bid and advertising patterns on the part of adwords advertisers who are being hit.

..and of course it's a collateral damage thing.

Been monitoring blatant MFA (contentless) sites on YPN, MSN and Google, BTW. For our benchmark terms, (fairly narrow topic), they have almost disappeared from google pages (from almost total domination), have taken over MSN ads, with YPN being somewhat in the middle (YPN/overture) has the highest straight-up bids for the topic so the MFA sites only appear at the tail of the ad sequence.


 3:55 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Well stated, Datagrrl.

And the tin-foil hat looks good on you ....


 4:03 am on Jul 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

An algo that cannot differentiate between an ecommerce site and an MFA cannot be good and has to be flawed.

My landing page has got decent content relevant to what I sell but has no 'unique' content because it would be stupid of me to put 'unique irrelevant information' on my landing page when I want to sell my cheap widget products in stock. Mine is a simple estore selling one specific targetted product. The algo has determined that my page is not of high quality. ( I don't sell high quality products , you foolish algo.. I sell cheap low cost 'decent quality' widgets which people want to buy in my country). I don't need a high quality fancy looking landing page with irrelevant , over the top content to impress my customers or the stupid dumb algo.

So my main keyword has been hiked 400% and is no longer cost effective for me.

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