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Ranking Method Changed?
relevant and irrelevant now showing

 8:09 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

On the 16th of May, I noticed that most of the websites that were in the first page rankings in Google USA, had been dropped to second and third page positions.

Websites that have replaced them are mostly irrelevant listings from large corporate companies and over-bidded newbies.

Is this a glitch in the system, as I don't see how this would increase Googles' revenue if they have a much lower click through rate or if surfers eventually block them out
of their vision like they do with banners?



 9:20 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've seen no such changes in the campaigns that I've been running.


 10:01 pm on May 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have seen it - strange...for sure there is a bug...


 1:08 am on May 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I noticed it too. I think it's a glitch. I called my account rep. but he had nothing to say about it. The funny thing is that only certain CPU's were affected. I guess it depends on which Google server you hit? It seems to be better about now.

[edited by: UnitedRigo at 1:08 am (utc) on May 19, 2007]


 6:20 am on May 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

I deleted my browser cookies and the rank changed, not as it was, but an updated version.
It almost appears as though the system is refreshing and an updated rank is developing breaking loose the websites that seemed to be glued at the top and moving a few new ones in.
Kind of cool...


 4:57 pm on May 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

On the 16th of May, I noticed that most of the websites that were in the first page rankings in Google USA, had been dropped to second and third page positions.

Glad to see I'm not alone in noticing this... starting on the 16th, for one of our most popular terms (our historic rank: 1 - 3) - the entire first page is now filled with advertisers who all fail to include this rather popular word in their ads... and those typically ranked on page 1 (including us) have all dropped to page 2 or 3 - with seemingly more relevant ads...


 7:59 am on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Poster Boy, I have noticed the exact same thing with some of my ads. The funny thing is that if I try searching Google for my keywords on different CPU's then I get different results. I ran a test simultaneously on 2 different CPU's. I was getting the "typical" results on one CPU, yet on the other CPU my ads (that are typically in the 1-3 range) were nowhere to be seen. The strange thing is that according to AdWords my ads are appearing at position 1 to 3.

I have not noticed any fewer daily clicks or CTR's on my account so I do not belive this to be a widespread issue. I believe only a few peole are seeing these "odd" results and therefore most AdWords advertisers may be unaware this is happening.

Another strange thing is that on the pages where I see the "odd" results I can click on the "More Sponsored Links >" link and on the "Sponsored Links" page I can see my ads in the position that AdWords indicates that they should be.

Maybe AdWords is running tests on certain servers to determine how effective certain ads are? I think this is either a glitch or some deliberate testing being conducted by AdWords. I did speak with my AdWords account rep. and he did not have anything to contribute. He basically said that ads fluctuate throughout the day. However, that does not explain the big differences I am seeing in results and the fact that it only seems to affect the results in certan CPU's.

[edited by: UnitedRigo at 8:12 am (utc) on May 20, 2007]


 8:18 am on May 20, 2007 (gmt 0)


I deleted cookies as tootalldave suggested and the "odd" results stopped appearing and then I started getting the "true" results. Weird indeed. There is definetely something in that cookie that was trigering the "oddball" results. I am at a loss.


 3:38 pm on May 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

Yep - delete the cookies and returns to normal - strange...


 3:28 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Google has started adjusting ad rank for the same query by the same individual if they don't click on any ads. You can test this by entering a query repeatedly; the ads will change and, often over time, disappear.


 8:36 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hey everyone:

I was thinking about this topic today, here are my thoughts:

There are a few reasons why your adsí placement will vary from query to query; and eventually disappear completely. First, keep in mind that the ad position that is listed within your AdWords campaign is an aggregate average. Your average ad position may be 3.2 but this means that your ad placement could be fluctuating between 1 and 5.2 and this discrepancy could surface from one search query to the next (an adís performance usually doesnít oscillate this much, but in theory it could). However, if youíre average rank is around 3 but you are finding your ads dropping to the second page and disappearing, that could be an entirely different can of worms.

The number of search queries conducted by an individual will influence their paid search results; this is what you could be witnessing. Suppose you check your ad rank for your most trafficked keyword; upon your initial search query your ad should be listed in the approximate position of your average ad rank displayed within AdWords. However, if you search on that keyword a number of times youíll notice that yours and your competitorsí ad rankings begin to shift. This fluctuation is not happening in the entire Google system, but solely within your browser.

If you are searching on the same term (or related terms) frequently, without clicking on any of the paid placements, Google will shift its ad serving algorithm, and your ad (and your competitors ads) will begin to display in varying ranks, soon dropping to the second page and eventually disappearing completely. Now, with the relevant ads being dropped due to repeated queries of the same keyword, ads with lower quality scores, which are usually have poor placement, may begin to creep up into the results.

Considering when you delete your browser cookies your ad results are set back to normal, then I think this is a measure by Google to combat impression fraud. I talked with my Google rep and she neither confirmed nor denied my suspicion - but Iím sticking to it!

In summary, your ad rank will naturally move around between queries, while maintaining an aggregate average of where you want your ad to appear. However, repeated search queries within a single browser will eventually alter the paid search results - but only in that specific browser. Question: I wonder how many times you need to search on a term in order for Google to begin altering your search results? Iím not certain.


 9:44 pm on May 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are any of you that are experiencing this issue usually checking ads using either the &adtest=on parameter in the URL or the Ads Diagnostic Tool itself? Those methods don't affect the impression count, so if you're doing that and still seeing ads drop in position then it's probably not related to impressions.


 9:38 pm on May 25, 2007 (gmt 0)

I noticed this today as well on some of my campaigns. All the first page advertisers are ebay/shopping/shop type ads with dynamic titles. All low bidders/poor CTR, for sure.

I'm not seeing a statistically significant drop in either CTR or total clicks in my account so I'm going to figure that it's just because I'm signed in and never click on ads so I'm being served rAndomWords until I decide to click on something.


 5:25 pm on May 26, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hmmm, i'm seeing this too. Plan to look into it further when I get back to work on Tuesday.

Ad diagnostic tool shows things as expected, but ppc ads on serps are very different.

I have this happening in just one account i manage, others are fine as far as i can tell.


 4:59 pm on Jun 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

As of this weekend, crazy results are back for me, even after clearing my cookies... how about for anybody else?


 4:37 pm on Jun 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Same happening here in UK adwords.

My long term campaign position of 5-10th, became 40th-60th over the weekend

Deleting cookies does nothing for me, but switching from IE7 to Opera and position returns to normal 5-10.

I would ring support - but I don't think I've got the patience today.


 12:46 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

how do things look here:


 3:13 pm on Jun 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mine are back to normal today.


 3:17 am on Jun 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Mine have been back to normal since clearing cookies. I have this issue on multiplt PC's and clearing cookies has always done the trick.


 3:28 am on Jun 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

For the last few days, I've been seeing this issue with the Ad Preview tool as well... It was fine before that.

An easy way to work around it is to look at the ads using google.com/sponsoredlinks?q=keyword. Then it shows me the same as if I had cleared my cookies. (But I'm wondering if these listings will also be affected in the same way after I've done lots of views.)


 3:35 am on Jun 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

For the last few days, I've been seeing this issue with the Ad Preview tool as well... It was fine before that.

A sharp eye you have there, Rehan. I caught up with some of my email a short time ago, and find that you are correct. It is being looked into as a priority.

Thanks for the heads-up.



 3:10 pm on Jun 15, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thanks, AWA.

BTW, is it a relatively new feature that changes what ads are shown based on the search history? Is it similar in any way to the personalization that's being done for organic results?

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