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Theory on removing Adwords advertisers from top SERPs
internetheaven




msg:3630900
 1:42 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Just a thought that was sparked by the recent decline of the natural rankings of a site of mine after doubling the Adwords budget for that very site. The drop seems to be from the number 4-10 spots I held down to 11-12 (i.e. the second page). The 1-3 spots I hold are steady. The fact no other sites have dropped had me pondering possible scenarios and I came up with this. I don't know if Google are doing this but as I have absolutely no way of uncovering evidence that this is the case I thought I'd throw wild speculation onto the boards and see what drifts to the top :)

To deliver more valid results on the first page, it would be a waste of that space to have the top 10 Adwords ads and the top 10 natural results being the same websites or a high percentage mix of the two. Would a better use of the page for general keywords/keyphrases be that if there are results that are marginally lower in "value" or "ranking score" than websites already showing on that page as an Adwords ad then those sites could be placed on the first page instead and the Adwords advertisers could be moved to the second page?

Just a thought. You come up with crazy notions when things don't make sense on Google.

Thanks
Mike

 

tedster




msg:3631052
 7:14 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

This particular "crazy notion" gets floated here a lot - almost since the day that Google started the Adwords program. We almost never run threads dedicated to the idea these days, because it gets mentioned as an aside so often in other threads.

I work with many clients who rank well in the organic SERPs and also run various levels of Adwords campaigns with budgets that shift, campaigns that get turned off and on, etc. Sometimes looking at just one case does tickle the old paranoia button, I know. But looking at aggregate data, I have not seen even a hint of Google doing anything like this.

If there's any one way I can think of that Google would self-destruct, it would be giving in to a plan like that. Just one definitive study and advertisers would start leaving in droves. Plus, the organic results would also begin to degrade, and it's the organic results that draw in the users who read the Adwords.

Google has always maintained that Adwords campaigns do not affect organic results, and that's what I see, too.

[edited by: tedster at 6:19 am (utc) on April 21, 2008]

Hissingsid




msg:3631063
 7:35 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Tedster,

There's bound to be some connection though at least in the other direction ie organic affecting sponsored. If you have a well written title and description and your page is in the top 2 (maybe 3) in organic serps then that can directly affect your "quality" score on Adwords so you might have to bid more to get in the top 3.

Also I find it beyond belief that new algo changes are not evaluated against their effect on Adwords income. The guys at Google would have to be absolutely mad to persist in algo changes that had a subjective effect on serp quality and a downward objective effect on income.

It is a very small step indeed to have the software provide feedback on an ongoing basis and for tweaks to be kept if they improve income and dropped if they reduce income. What is the difference between that and only keeping tweaks if they don't reduce income?

Cheers

Sid

tedster




msg:3631085
 8:05 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

There's a big difference between only keeping an algo tweak if it doesn't reduce income, and making an algo tweak in an attempt to improve income. Two different trains of logic going there.

I can see measuring income for interface changes - very much. But changing the relevance algo to improve ad clicks? It makes no business sense to me for any search engine. Long term it would be death. Relevance is the core competence - sacrificing the core business value kills the business.

But philosophy aside, they just aren't doing this. And there are too many watch dogs to let a strategy like this go undetected.

Hissingsid




msg:3631088
 8:17 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Yeh!

Like Barings bank and Société Générale. It wouldn't have to be company policy for some smart Alec to implement a feedback loop.

My own site was #1 for years and years for the top $ term. That is the only term that has been affected all the rest we have kept our top slots for. Where is the watch dog I report this too?

Cheers

Sid

tedster




msg:3631091
 8:33 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

I have worked with companies who only went to #1 AFTER they launched an Adwords campiagn for that keyword. And I've also read theories that Google gives Adwords advertisers a boost in the organic results to keep them happy.

There is a documented "synergy" effect that can bump total clicks between organic and Adwords to a level beyond the total of the two taken on their own - in some markets at least. And some people have felt Google tries to keep those advertisers happy with better organic listings.

The bottom line here is that one experience (or even many) does not establish a pattern of cause and effect. It's the old "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy.

Hissingsid




msg:3631094
 8:40 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi Tedster,

Do you accept that they have the capability to do it if they wanted to?

Cheers

Sid

tedster




msg:3631102
 8:54 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sure - it's inherent in any computerized business system.

randle




msg:3631215
 1:15 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

The drop seems to be from the number 4-10 spots I held down to 11-12 (i.e. the second page).

I dont think it has anything to do with Adwords. But, the amount of fluctuation we see these days for certain sites on the first two pages does make one wonder. I dont know what anyone else sees but these ongoing changes could lead one to think there is something a foot. You see certain sites change quite a bit, but others that never move. We see sites that will go three days at # 2, then jump to #7 for 5 days, then go to # 3 for a bit, but during that whole span, for example the # 1, and the #18 never budge, not one single position. Its hard to understand how in a purely algorithmic scenario, some sites move around quit a bit, and yet some never move at all. I guess its possible, these sites that never move belong there from a relevance standpoint, and the others do and sometimes dont, but I find that hard to comprehend.

I just dont buy what were seeing the past 6 months or so is purely algorithmic, in the sense that we have become to know what algorithmic means.

menial




msg:3631242
 3:28 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

From usability and effectiveness point of view it makes a perfect sense that Google doesn't want to show the same websites both in the organic and sponsored section. Otherwise, users would quickly learn not to even glance at the sponsored ads if they had the same in the "hot spot" areas (organic results) of the screen.

So this is not a theory, it is web design 101 which has been implemented even by amateur web developers for years.

PS. If Google doesn't want do to something, they are usually successful :).

tedster




msg:3631255
 4:33 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Otherwise, users would quickly learn not to even glance at the sponsored ads if they had the same in the "hot spot" areas (organic results) of the screen.

It might seem that way, but my experience says otherwise. Instead, having both an ad and top organic result is almost always a reinforcing situation, and not one of exclusion. If an ad merely duplicates the organic title and snippet, then maybe -- but of course, they almost never do.

menial




msg:3631256
 4:38 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

If an ad merely duplicates the organic title and snippet, then maybe -- but of course, they almost never do.

But the green URL always appears (whether in organic or sponsored ads) and this is what most searchers look at too.

Tastatura




msg:3631274
 5:02 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

internetheaven:
To deliver more valid results on the first page, it would be a waste of that space to have the top 10 Adwords ads and the top 10 natural results being the same websites or a high percentage mix of the two. Would a better use of the page for general keywords/keyphrases be that if there are results that are marginally lower in "value" or "ranking score" than websites already showing on that page as an Adwords ad then those sites could be placed on the first page instead and the Adwords advertisers could be moved to the second page?

while the theory is interesting I think that it's doubtful. At least if it is to be belived to Google's Udi Manber (VP of search quality, and Matt C.'s boss). In recent interview [popularmechanics.com], which is also being discussed [webmasterworld.com] here on WebmasterWorld, he said that algo changes made to improve search do not take into account revenue or effects on ads. To quote (emphasis is mine)


Q: You have nothing to do with the advertising side, but is there a sort of church and state separation between the advertising side and what you do?
A: Yes, I told you we launched our 450 improvements. When we decide to launch something, we have a weekly meeting where all those things come together and we look at all the evaluations and we make decisionsrevenues and any effects on ads do not come into those meetings. We dont even know what the effects are. We make the decisions solely based on how good it is for search, how good it is for users. The ads are on a different part of the page, and the ad people, I assume, do the same kind of thing and try to improve the ads.

menial




msg:3631293
 5:40 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

In the past there was a discussion about GGscore here: [webmasterworld.com ]

willemj




msg:3631319
 7:12 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

A two word combination I've used for about 1 1/2 years in an adwords campaign has steadily climbed in the serps. It's been at #2 for the last couple of weeks. Last week I disabled the keywords in adwords and the page remains at #2.

So, no I don't see a link between adwords and position in the serps.

internetheaven




msg:3631638
 5:32 pm on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

In recent interview, which is also being discussed here on WebmasterWorld, he said that algo changes made to improve search do not take into account revenue or effects on ads.
... we have a weekly meeting where all those things come together and we look at all the evaluations and we make decisionsrevenues and any effects on ads do not come into those meetings. We dont even know what the effects are. We make the decisions solely based on how good it is for search, how good it is for users ...

That was a very, very cleverly worded piece of, what looks to me as, utter vague-ness. That statement neither confirms nor denies that in the end organic results/algorithms are affected by revenue. The only thing stated is that it is not his mandate to consider revenue when coming up with changes. If changes are undone by his bosses based on revenue is not covered in the wording used.

So, no I don't see a link between adwords and position in the serps.

I think you missed the main difference between what I'm seeing and previous threads on Adwords Ads affecting natural results. A change in one does not necessarily mean a change in the other. For example, if Microsoft were to stop buying adwords ads they would not disappear from the top spot. In the results for "car insurance" there are some advertisers in both PPC and Natural positions on the first page.

My theory was that if the quality scores of the sites with PPC ads on the first page and the quality scores of the sites in the natural rankings are taken into consideration then if there is room for adjustment within specific margins then an adjustment can be made. For example:

- if the No.10 natural ranking has a natural quality score of 568 and adwords score of 121
And
- the No.11 natural ranking has a natural quality score of 561 and does not have an adwords ad
And
- the No.12 natural ranking has a natural score of 211 and does not have an adwords ad
And
- the margins set for adjustment were >10

Then moving the No.11 natural ranking to the No.10 spot, i.e. to the first page, so that the first page is showing an extra good result then such is not damaging to the search results. It may even aid them. Of course, the No.12 ranking if it were 11 would not get bumped up to the number 10 spot because it's quality would be outwith the margins set.

Hope that made sense, obviously I'm making up quality scores, I have no idea the computerised value pages have!

Hissingsid




msg:3631658
 5:59 pm on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi,

I'm very cynical about the link between Adwords and Organic results but even I don't think there will be such a direct link or ongoing filter as you suggest.

My scepticism comes from working in marketing in the pharmaceutical industry. Marketing (and sales) was supposed to be separate from regulatory and the medical director's department. Under the self regulation code of practice firms had to pretend that no regulatory or medical decision would be made in order to benefit marketing and sales. Oh yeh!

You see I know what happens when its a matter of life or death in search of a quick buck so when its just a matter of SERPS...

Cheers

Sid

tedster




msg:3631825
 10:24 pm on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts:
Our organic search results have always been completely independent from our paid advertisements. We consider the objectivity of our search results to be paramount to our success and would never compromise that in any way.

Udi Manber:
When we decide to launch something, we have a weekly meeting where all those things come together and we look at all the evaluations and we make decisionsrevenues and any effects on ads do not come into those meetings. We dont even know what the effects are. We make the decisions solely based on how good it is for search, how good it is for users. The ads are on a different part of the page, and the ad people, I assume, do the same kind of thing and try to improve the ads.

Even when people like Udi Manber and Matt Cutts make strong declarations, that doesn't seem to change the concerns that people have. Why would we need a statement from "higher" up the org chart than a VP? Any higher than that and your hearing from someone who isn't even close to hands-on with the algo.

I'll say it again - through my client work I see a lot of ranking reports and Adwords analysis. There is just no statistically significant correlation here. Yes, some people certainly would make that kind of a move if they ran an asset like Google. But that kind of strategy would also level off their company long before it got near to Google's position.

What you can see on some organic money searches is Google's preference for "forcing" informational results onto the first page. But that happens whether or not the ecommerce sites are using Adwords, That's done because a significant number of those searchers do want information. It used to be very hard to learn about some areas because all you got in the top SERPs were sales pitches.

CainIV




msg:3632002
 5:05 am on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)


Just a thought that was sparked by the recent decline of the natural rankings of a site of mine after doubling the Adwords budget for that very site. The drop seems to be from the number 4-10 spots I held down to 11-12 (i.e. the second page). The 1-3 spots I hold are steady.

My cat ran out on the the road and got hit by a car at exactly the same time I pulled a baked tuna casserole from the oven last week.

The theory holds about as much water :)

internetheaven




msg:3632120
 9:25 am on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Sorry to hear about your cat.

Speculation and theories is all we have on this side of the Google fence. I find the intimation that theories on Google algorithms and theories on the supernatural are similar to be quite insulting. Without wild baseless theories these boards would be pretty empty ;)

Hissingsid




msg:3632172
 10:35 am on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

Hi,

Just thinking about this and I suspect that the changes they made to the Adwords bidding structure last year will have had a much bigger impact on income than changes in their organic algo. I know that we are spending 50% more for 20% fewer clicks.

Advertising is seasonal, so if they were to make comparisons they would have to compare this week with the same week last year. Any algo effect would be completely masked so they couldn't have an effective feedback IMO.

Cheers

Sid

trinorthlighting




msg:3632734
 10:08 pm on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

I think I can disagree a bit here and back it up. We all know Google grabs a bunch of Analytics type of data any way it possibly can and uses it to determine search engine rankings and Ad words quality scores. Regardless if the traffic comes from Ad words or the natural Google search, Google still grabs the human behavior type of data.

Case in point, we launch an ecommerce page, its crawled and cached but does not rank well in Google and gets no traffic. So Google has no real analytics type of data to gauge the page and where it should rank because it gets no visitors. So we fire up the Ad words campaigns and place analytics on the page and traffic starts coming.

Now, over time lets say all the analytics type of data shows that it is an awesome page and people love it and all the data shows that it is a great page and deserves better ranking. Over time it will slide up the natural rankings.

Now, the same can apply if the page is not so great and the analytics data shows that people react negative to the page. Then the page slides down in the search engine rankings.

My suggestion to people who fire up Ad words campaigns and see their natural rankings slide, change the page up, get a fresh view and give Google some time to measure human traffic patterns. You might even do some A/B testing as well. Do not be afraid to add Google analytics to your page so you can study what people do once they reach your page.

So in closing, sure Ad words team and the natural search team have nothing to do with each other, but they do share human traffic data which can make your Ad words quality score go up and down and that same data can make your search engine rankings go up and down as well.

[edited by: trinorthlighting at 11:04 pm (utc) on April 22, 2008]

Tastatura




msg:3632738
 10:23 pm on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

As with everything there are costs and benefits...same for Google Analytics. There also might be a benefit in not running G analytics, and let it "guess" or otherwise try to determine user behavior on your site - again that approach might, or might not, work to your benefit.

Do not be afraid to add Google analytics to your page so you can study what people do once they reach your page.

There are other services and applications, beside G Analytics, available to examine what visitors are doing on our sites (I personally have custom scripts). Just because GA does not have monetary cost, it does not mean it's free :)

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