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So, does anyone think google will be tempted to lower the quality of their search results to promote spending in their ppc system one day?
I don't know about intentionally lowering the quality of results, but it certainly opens the door for the introduction of more aggressive spam filter testing, or algos that intentionally rotate different sites to the top.
As GG pointend out, the general public doesn't usually notice problems like the zeroPR issue, because for every site that drops out, there are plenty of equally relevant sites to take their place.
Webmasters who enjoy constant top placement for quality terms in the free SERPS have absolutely zero incentive to become paid advertisers. That will change dramatically if the type of volatility of the past couple months becomes the norm.
With the arrival of Google's CPC program I lost myself in checking the opportunities, reading the 12 pages FAQ, fooling arround with keywords, even neglecting the latest index upate results, only to awaken to the reality of costs.
SEO in general has been difficult to qualify and quantify.
As of lately things are clearer. As it stands for the moment, Google is statistcally the important search engine to qualify for. And now finally we know what its
With CPC and a good statistics program, Google has put a value to high ranking and referrals. You can face your client or yourself and say: 'by taking care of these
under-optimised pages of your site, I will get you referrals for these search phrases'. You can offer him the SEO alternative of advertising CPC and not only tell him exactly what each refferal will cost, but also how many referrals (click throughs) he can expect (Google's CPC guestimate).
Not that PPC did not exist previously, but Overture delivers for search engines that are incomplete, unupdated, unpopular and inconclusive in results. There is near to no SEO work to do for the Overture feed search engines (AV, Yahoo, MSN etc) other than PPC.
Right now I can make a simple table after every update, compare post-update Google search phrase referrals with pre-update referrals and multiply the number with the actual Google quoted CPC.
Say the new Google update gives you 20 extra daily referals on the search phrase: 'search engine optimization', multiply that by Google's quoted CPC for that search phrase (e.g.USD 1.00) and you have delivered your client 20 x 1.00 = 20.- USD of added value a day only for that search phrase.
Googles CPC has put a quantifiable $ value to everyones hours lurking and contributing here...
Looking at equivalant CPC rates for the sake of comparison is a good idea, but you also need to look at the differences as well.
Just as there are different demographic groups from search engine to search engine, there as also differences within the user base of a single engine.
The Google user that conducts a search and then clicks on a sponsored link isn't the same type of user that clicks on a traditional listing. All the experience I've had running a matching ad for terms that also produce a first page crawler-based listing has shown that not only are the non-paid listings clicked on 2-3 times more often then the ads, they also tend to generate proportionally higher conversion rates.
That being the case, if you were to deliver 20 new users per day from a non-paid Google listing, there is a good chance that the actual value of those visitors is equal to 50 or more CPC visitors.
I have found that when I adveritise next to my top (#2) ranking for a search phrase I get apprx 11 % total click-throughs on the search phrase of which 8 % from the #2 SERP position and 3 % from the Adword advert. I would have to check with more of my search phrases and corresponding adverts but I guess my above mentioned data teams up to the 2-3 factor you mentioned.
What I would find interesting to know from Google is what percentage of searchers actually click on one of the results on a given average search. I guess at least 50 % plus of searchers do not even click on anything, given the use of metasearch engines, ranking programs, and webmasters and their competition just checking SERP status.
As a searcher I prefer the smaller CPM Adwords they used to have. The new ones are to intrusive.