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|More proof of a Google money grab.|
When this last algorithm was introduced, Some of my keywords were hit with mammoth minimum bid increases.
Since then, Google has slowly been adding my keywords to their "low quality" list with small increases to the minimum bid (despite very high CTR and Conversion rates). Some of my keywords have had an increase in minimum bid almost every other day. Is Google saying that despite an increasing CTR, that my site is slowly decreasing in quality despite my not having changed it? This does not make sense to me. It does make sense as a pure money grab however.
Absolute proof (in my mind) of this money grab came for me today. Like many people, I've put the name of my website into my keyword list. "mywebsite.com" is one of my keywords. Today Google informs me: "Improve it's quality through optimization, delete it, or raise the keyword's maximum CPC to the minimum bid indicated".
This keyword is my own website! It is impossible for a keyword to be any more relevant than that.
There are only 2 explanations that could be possible for this, and neither one of them has anything to do with "quality".
1. There are major flaws in this latest algorithm (most of us have known this, and now here's the proof)
2. This is nothing but an out-right money grab. With so many option holders on the inside - Why is this such a far fetched scenario?
|manual solutions are not scalable |
There are plenty of scalable manual processes. It all depends on the extent of the scale, and the fixed and incremental costs of manual processing vs. automation. At some point of scale, the cost curves intersect and at that point automated makes more sense than manual. But you can't just say one is 'not scalable' as a rule.
I can easily envision an economic argument for having a rooomful of people manually review a universe of (rough guess) a million sites over the cost of developing an algorithm, dealing with its bugs and bearing the cost of the resulting fallout. I can't imagine the same if the sites were to be measured against individual KWs. That was my only point. Manual is not an option for Google, except for in the most basic (and unlikely) scenario of a single site quality assessment, in my estimation.
Some interesting posts but I'm still unclear just what constitutes "quality", or for that matter "relevancy".
The impression I do get though is that Google is moving away from small-time advertisers like myself. So to me the real question is should I devote much time to trying to figure out the adwords system or just move on to alternatives?
The alternatives may not be easy but Google aint easy anyway. The basic concept - 'bid on keywords people are searching for, only pay if they click' is waaaaay outta reality.
One thing that does really irritate is seeing a bunch of garbage among the ads that clearly have zero relevance to my own search phrase - I wouldn't mind it that just meant my own ad stands out as relevant but damned if I enjoy having to bid against moronic KW choices by generalised sites that are happy to just throw away a dollar a click or so. So I'd be all FOR relevancy if it actually made sense but even when I create specific landing pages for the ad, on a site dedicated to the general theme of said keywords and yet still find a 60 cent or more bid shoved into positon 30 something.
Overall it seems the principles are great but the actual practise seems to work in the direct opposite manner. Bottom line it just comes down to a big budget and then creaming that traffic.
I'll continue with adwords for now but frankly have lost interest in it. Hard to be a keen little learner when it just aint interesting. Things with huge price tags don't interest me.
So, am gonna concentrate on a site that sells and then figure out the traffic later. Tricky but unless I have a crazy conversion rate I can't really afford to advertise a $30 product on Google.
Anyone wants to PM me and explain just what the heck this QS stuff is about, please do, as I cheerfully admit I don't understand it.
Your confusion over "quality" is shared by me and many others. And your point that it has become a playground for the big budget guys is dead on.
You do not have to be an adwords advertiser (I am) to figure this out. I still use google to find oddball pond parts, and other consumer items that are off the beaten trail. And where google use to return orgainic and paid ads that were a little eclectic, all we get now (on the first page) is the majors. And oh yeah, the mandatory ebay ad...:)
|Your confusion over "quality" is shared by me and many others. And your point that it has become a playground for the big budget guys is dead on. |
I don't know how universally true this is. Certainly if I want to end up the the first page of ads all I have to do is raise my bids slightly. In fact, I AM on the first pages when my ads are active.
Even if you are correct, isn't it just absolutely SHOCKING that when someone pays more they actually get MORE advertising exposure, and the people who pay less...well, they get less?
Maybe I don't understand your post.
Maybe you subscribe to the idea expressed below from another thinker on the subject?
|i thought the whole point of adwords was a paid shortcut for the crappier/less optimized sites? |
rbcal - I have no problem with "pay big bucks - get first place". That has been true forever, not just adwords. My point is that Google became a public company and they are adjusting their "beliefs" to coincide with maximizing revnue. No shocker there. It is that they are enshrining their revenue enhancement in techno-jargon - thus the discussions in this forum.
Further, my additional point was that the organic results do not come up with any surprises anymore. I could turn this into a 10,000 word explanation with very specific examples where I was actually trying to find a niche product, but that the organic results kept giving me the "heavy hitters" who dominate the general product area. I had to use metacrawler to finally find what I was looking for.
And, BTW, the site that offerred this product was by all appearances a "Quality" site with very desirable SEO characteristics.
So (puff puff) Google simply has morphed into a different beast, which was my original point.
"So (puff puff) Google simply has morphed into a different beast, which was my original point."
This is the majority belief here in this thread.
I doubt it.
G has responsibilities to shareholders to maximise profit, but it's not like the founders are personally short of cash and looking to wring more pennies out of widows and orphans with threats of violence, and I don't think they've turned evil.
I am a tiny tiny player and I find myself well-placed in all sorts of SERPs and I find AW cheap and (mainly) easy to use too.
I have been amazed since G first started how well their systems have worked for me on the whole.
|Further, my additional point was that the organic results do not come up with any surprises anymore. I could turn this into a 10,000 word explanation with very specific examples where I was actually trying to find a niche product, but that the organic results kept giving me the "heavy hitters" who dominate the general product area. I had to use metacrawler to finally find what I was looking for. |
But yet, I'm not a heavy hitter and I'm exceedingly happy with my serp placement.
I agree on the no surprises bit.
However, what you are missing here (and this is really not an adwords issue and should be taken to the google search area), is the reason the heavy hitters (as you say) do well (they don't dominate in that many areas) is that they've been around a long time, and AGE, and incoming links (correlated with age, and site attractiveness) are important determinants of rankings.
What I see is that sites (even from us little guys) that have been around for a long time, and that offer great quality and received incoming links because of the quality, are the sites that sit in the top SERP positions.
I happen to be one of them (actually several of them in our niches.
Rbcal - I am exceedingly happy and overjoyed with my serp placement in Google (and others). However, my adwords costs have doubled and my conversions have dropped to 20% of 6 months ago. I am a small player. I am adjusting to this, but as I said, they have moved the "ball" very far from where it use to be.
My primary observations are about the organic results (not when searching for my site) but when I am simply using Google for utilitarian purposes. It is overly biased in favor of big budgets (You say "aged" huge sites).
So from my perspective, the organic AND adwords changes are part of the same integrated package. Reward the big spenders, because thats where the money is. THAT is different from the old non-public Google.
What Google really needs IMHO is serious competition that gives results similar to Google of 3 years ago. In fact that should be the business plan - and part of the tout.
I am not MAD at Google. I just think the shroud of "we are the good guys" is wearing a little thin. They are a voracious public company with an enormous appetite and an almost impossible reutation to live up to. (IE they are so smart that we just don't divine what the game plan really is because we are so clueless compared to the dynamic duo).
To all of that "patina" I say DROP IT! Thats why I sympathize with a lot of the "hot" opinions that claim they would be happier if Google simply said they are taking the following steps blah blah blah because of certain quarterly financial goals.
Clarity always wins...
I suspect that G sincerely believes what it says about its motivations, etc, and is not especially happy with the nastier consequences of the obligations to its shareholders from being a floated company.
But, more transparency (providing it can't be used against them by Black Hats) would be great.
But at the same time we should ask all other corporations, politicians, and other significant and vested public interests to do the same.
You seem to be asking more of G than of any of those other groups, which you have every right to ask, but little right to expect IMHO.
Yo DamonHD - you may be right. May be that I am asking G to be more transparent than the average bear. But most major long standing public corps do not have such mantra's as "do no evil" etc. When ford raises prices they simply announce they are raising prices.
What is wrong with G doing the same and not spewing this contortion about quality, relevance, landing pages, etc. Again - clarity works in everyones favor. Algo changes that zap MFA sites are fine by me. But there has been far too much anecdotal eveidence presented in multiple threads here, that basic costs have been raised.
Clarity - GOOGLE ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT IT HAS CHANGED ITS BUSINESS MODEL TO DIMINISH THE IMPORTANCE OF MFA SITES WHICH WERE CLUTTERING UP BASIC SEARCH ENGINE RESULTS. THIS MAY INCREASE ADWORDS ADVERTISER COSTS IN SOME AREAS. (UPI/AP - JULY 2006)
Clarity - GOOGLE ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT CERTAIN CHANGES TO ITS ADWORDS PROGRAM WILL INCREASE ADVETISER COSTS AN AVERAGE OF 8% IN THE NEXT AND FOLLOWING QUARTERS. THESE INCREASES WERE NECESSITATED BY CERTAIN 2ND QUARTER CHARGES AND UNFORSEEN DEVELOPMENT COSTS.
Quantam Goose I agree 100%. You just never get a straight answer from them - never, never, never. The majority of their advertisers don't really know what we know (or don't care), but their lack of answers is what is bothersome. Google's not going to change and I accept that, but
Google's best days and status of Wall Street Darlings is so 2005.
Google will have to acquire, acquire, acquire to keep their lead in search. Search is slowing anyway; big sites like expedia.com, amazon.com, webmd have so much more traffic coming from people tying their domain name on their browser. Big sites are Google's biggest threat in the future. Google is making as much as humanly possible in the U.S. because their growth in U.S. search is not growing anywhere near it did in 2003-2005. Listen in on any of their quarterly earnings reports - that's the source of my data.
|So from my perspective, the organic AND adwords changes are part of the same integrated package. Reward the big spenders, because thats where the money is. |
Non-spenders can and do rank well in the organic SERPs, even for competitive terms.
I don't believe there's any correlation between ad spending and organic search rankings, because (a) Google says there isn't, (b) Google would be stupid to compromise its core product by selling organic search rankings, and (c) if Google's search engineers were required to take orders from the advertising department, we'd hear about it faster than you could say "leak or gossip from a disgruntled employee."
"Google's search engineers were required to take orders from the advertising department, we'd hear about it faster than you could say leak or gossip from a disgruntled employee"
I can guarantee you that anyone at Google who works with organic listings has signed an iron clad agreement that says they will never speak 1 word about Google. Not 1 word - and if they did get caught I'm sure any agreement they signed talks about harsh financial and possible criminal repercussions.
NO ONE is talking at Google about what goes on.
you aren't serious are you?
If Google search engineers are as tightlipped as you insist, then how can anyone back up the suggestion that "the organic AND adwords changes are part of the same integrated package. Reward the big spenders, because that's where the money is"?
Maybe I'm old-fashioned, but I believe that allegations of lying should be supported by proof. (And the statement quoted above is an allegation of lying, because Google has said that advertising doesn't influence organic search results.)
EFV - I did not accuse anybody of lying. The search engine algorithms can be modified to favor "The Big Guys" without that being the initial target objective. It could be an un-anticipated ancillary result. I DO accuse Google of obfuscation of the first order.
This whole thread and many like it can be boiled down to the old axiom - "If it walks like a duck, and .........., it is a duck".
I am out of here...
[edited by: Quantam_Goose at 11:55 pm (utc) on Aug. 20, 2006]
|I did not accuse anybody of lying. The search engine algorithms can be modified to favor "The Big Guys" without that being the initial target objective. It could be an un-anticipated ancillary result. |
OK, I'll concede the possibility of an unanticipated ancillary result, but I personally haven't seen it happen in the organic SERPs, and I could point to many examples of non-advertisers (and non-"big guys") doing extremely well for competitive search terms.
I'd say let's stop analyzing what Google wants, why Google does it ... Bear in mind while the PhD-candidate billionaires and their multi-millionaire lieutenants have the luxury to experiment with their PPCSE revolution projects and what-not, most of us do not.
It's fortunate that there are still other significant PPCSEs we can go to while Google continues to beta test their cleansing formula. We know better than anybody else what our PPC ad audience want. So why waste time trying to please a particular PPCSE, but not focus on improving value-added web properties for our audience and go invest ad dollars on those PPCSEs who do not pretend they know more about our business than we do.
Web shoppers are learning every day and will get smarter and smarter. Eventually, only quality ads will survive and prevail. However, that quality will not be defined by some superficial screening algorithm but by the Web users at large.
|My primary observations are about the organic results (not when searching for my site) but when I am simply using Google for utilitarian purposes. It is overly biased in favor of big budgets (You say "aged" huge sites). |
Again, we should move this to the search area, but I'm simply not seeing what you've described above when I search for utilitarian reasons (I simply don't search for my site, so I can't comment)
That doesn't mean you are wrong (or right). What I see for many terms (which I research and which my sites tend to be about) is that the sites at the top are older, often have .edu and org extensions and tend to be NON-commercial.
Do I LIKE the search results? ahh...not so much, but it's the same on all three engines -- doing any even semi-serious research on a topic has simply gotten much harder and time consuming over the last years, AND, hte adwords ads don't help much either, at least for me.
And as for the big budgets, two points. Often the top serps aren't even advertising. Second, if you believe there is a link between budget and serps, then you also must believe that google and its staff are outright liars.
If there's ONE single issue, they been ultra clear about, it's the separation between adwords results and search results. Just listened to Kim Malone on this, and she was well...adamant?!
It's one of the prime directives. I believe that, I believe them on this issue.
Rbcal - just checked and saw your well reasoned response. I do not think that the results I mentioned (Big Budgets = prime placement) are necessarily a purposeful result that Google was aiming for. It is just what I have observed. (And I might add, observed by a lot of other people in this forum and major SE watch sites.)
It may be that the "majors" site characteristics are what puts them regulalrly at the top.
For example, I could in all honesty back a campaign to reduce the velocity of all 9mm ammunition sold in the US, on the well intentioned goal of not having stray rounds do damage to innocent citizens. If the result of that well intentioned campaign was a 200% increase in police fatalities - am I accused of helping to kill policeman. Probably. Am I guilty of plotting such a thing? Absolutely not.
Its the law of unintended consequences.
I am not trying to be a "Hard A--", but I truly see and believe what is a considerable bias in organic results and paid ads that heavily favors the majors. And that simply was not the case 3 years ago, and sure as hell was not the case 6 years ago.
May be that makes sense in an evolutionary way.
|Its the law of unintended consequences. |
Sure. That could certainly be the case. Actually, because of the complexity of what google does, I think it's likely they create fairly signficant "unintended consequences", some they foresee but plan to remedy over time through algo tweaking, and others, maybe they don't see.
So, as a result, they actually seem to create a lot of problems that they have to go back and fix, but sometimes it may take months or a year to fix them.
That's what algos do, unfortunately.
...That's what complex algorithms, millions of not-especially-clued-up-end-users and probably less than a thousand or so really unpleasant scammers/SPAMmers/con-artists/black-hats determined to game the system like the greedy sociopaths they are, do...
All IMHO! %-P
Maybe I missed it but has there ever been a post on this forum anywhere since the latest AW changes by someone whose CPC went down because of a superior quality score?
My CPCs have been dropping slowly for months, and cost-per-conversion has been stable or slightly falling too. Traffic quality has been improving a little too I think, thought that may be aided by addition of more negative keywords, etc.
I don't know what G thinks of my page "quality", but I'm probably not ringing any of the "dump-the-dictionary, wads-of-cash, fly-by-night" anti-quality alarm bells/smells that must be at least part of their divination.
[edited by: DamonHD at 4:07 pm (utc) on Aug. 22, 2006]
|but I truly see and believe what is a considerable bias in organic results and paid ads that heavily favors the majors |
I don't know how many sectors you are looking at; in some of mine it's so far from the truth that some of my clients are upset that they spend so much money on AdWords yet can't seem to pull a decent ranking for all their widgetwords in the organics. They don't want to believe that their mega-Adwords bucks can't buy them top position in the freebies as well. All they see is that it's all Google.
netmeg - are your clients considered one of the named "majors". If not that is sort of my point.
|Your confusion over "quality" is shared by me and many others. And your point that it has become a playground for the big budget guys is dead on. |
You do not have to be an adwords advertiser (I am) to figure this out. I still use google to find oddball pond parts, and other consumer items that are off the beaten trail. And where google use to return orgainic and paid ads that were a little eclectic, all we get now (on the first page) is the majors. And oh yeah, the mandatory ebay ad..
Haven't visited here much as of late. I can see I have missed some tremendous new members. Great post, and great follow ups.
The organic serps have favored the "big budget" sites in many cases lately, but this appears to be more of a "side effect" of a massive fundamental change in the way G ranks sites.
On topic- the quality score for adwords has not worked at all. The ads are not of higher quality. In fact, the ads appear to be far worse than before.
Overall, this has not had much of an effect on me, as my "bread and butter" is gaming the natural results, but it is noteworthy that the addition of a new "quality score" would make the ads so much worse.
|Actually, as far as I can tell, the best insurance against getting hit by the QS seems to be bidding aggressively at spot #1, regardless of cost. Bidders who insisted on being at the top rather than exploring higher return spots down the panel seem to have escaped harm....at least in my relatively small sample of observations. Anyone have info to the contrary? |
Not looking to get in a battle, just looking to expand my sample. Anyone who manages multiple clients have any observations to add?
I'll pitch in my two cents.
We manage a wide variety of campaigns. As far as I can tell, only two have been seriously impacted by the so-called Landing Page Quality aspect of quality score (I'd think that "business disclosure" is a broader definition of this that makes more sense, since the "landing page" isn't necessarily the issue, and Google isn't micromanaging anyone's landing page as far as I can tell). One was an older account and one was a newer one that was going to run into troubles anyway. Both problems were easily identifiable.
The older account was running half its ads on a separate site that was a one-page "sales page" type promotion. The main purpose of this had been to test a different offer, and the reasoning beyond that was murky to me. From a user standpoint this landing page would have been likely to generate complaints as it didn't have conventional navigation and the full business info wasn't disclosed as well as it was on the parent site, which in fact had similar landing/sales pages. It looked like what's being called a "squeeze page". I'm not one for indulging in these types of semantics - squeeze, not squeeze; shouty copy, good sales pitch - it doesn't matter. The bottom line was that users were being done a disservice as it would take too much effort to check the business owner's credentials. We moved all the destination URL's to the main site that offers fuller disclosure - even though the sales page is that "shouty" style still. This solved the problem and the average CPC's have gone back to where they were.
The newer account is in a business category that Google fundamentally seems to dislike. Although we can operate the campaign with many workarounds and/or by narrowing the keyword set used, and by altering the tone of the offer, it may never get fixed. Meanwhile, performance on MSN is excellent.
Dozens of other campaigns carry on unaffected, even in cases where they have sparse info on product pages, and you name it.
As for the issue of "has anyone seen CPC's *drop*" - I haven't conducted any kind of study, but of course some of our accounts have improved. The most obvious indicator, lower minimum CPC's, is of course misleading. But many keywords in our accounts have average CPC's of 3 cents, 2 cents, etc. That's completely irrelevant given that we'd need to bid 50 cents to $5.00 to show up anywhere decent on those keywords.
A friend did contact with me with a false positive type situation where they appeared to be marketing a conventional directory of professional contact information. They got "hit" even though the parent company is very old and reputable.
I'm a bit concerned, then, that Google may sometimes be citing a site for poor "quality" when its business model is too competitive with Google's, or where the algos are assuming what they shouldn't and the humans are too overwhelmed to overturn the initial decision. I guess maybe the humans will be less overwhelmed in a few months, but in the meantime, for those affected, it's no fun.
In the false positive case if we want to call it that, there is the added issue that the advertiser falls into the whole category of "seller or divulger of potentially sensitive or private contact information." Whether or not that is the type of information that has traditionally been purchased by direct marketers, we know Google is very sensitive about that whole area now, so it's probably on their radar as a red flag. The onus will be on the advertiser to appeal this multiple times - unfortunately the level of dialogue is low.
So, it looks like Google is conducting an ongoing "sweep" focused on some very particular kinds of sites and offers. Count me as one who knows many businesses who are not affected or even positively affected, and a minority who have been "torpedoed." One of the torpedoed individuals who contacted me recently sells dangerous items that can be used as weapons, and is multiple serving with five AdWords accounts - so you do the math. Google deactivating four of the accounts doesn't sound like a "cash grab" to me, it sounds like a continuation of editorial policy enforcement.
Very interesting info: clearly bad news for people wrongly hit (and not just in THEIR opinion!), but I'm pleased to hear data that suggests that G is STRENGTHENING an editorial line.
(Disclosure: having been an editor, I think there is some value in having and enforcing an editorial line. B^> )
[edited by: DamonHD at 7:24 pm (utc) on Aug. 28, 2006]
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