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Quality Traffic - What has happened since last year?

Prices up, Traffic down 1/3, Conversion rates cut in half



2:29 am on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

This year has been bad all year long for us on google. I'm wondering if they changed something in January that made it worse for everyone, or if we're just getting beat by the competition.
We're paying just a little more each month than we were last year, but only getting about 2/3 of the traffic we had last year.
The worst part though is that our conversion rates have gone from 1.0 to .5. One percent was bad enough, but still profitable. Half a percent is not profitable at all.
Is anyone else having the same trouble we are?
Did google change something this year that would make our conversion rates go down so dramatically?


10:50 am on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

This is the legacy of the scraper epidemic (pandemic!).

Hope Google, Adsense, Adwords, can flush them all away. Millions and millions of useless pages flooding the web, wasting users time. Webhosts could help stop this flood too!

Unfortunately its a trivial task to create huge interlinked, machine generated web sites, whose content has been stolen (scraped) from legitimate sites on the web. These sites degrade user/customer interest in the web as a whole. I've seen sites composed of 1000's of pages constructed entirely of random sentences on a given topic ripped from other sites. Actually sometimes a pretty good read! Monkey's on typewriters fully automated. For some sites I can see how difficult it must be for a search engine to sort out the scrapers.

Search engines are not scrapers they do not publish hard copies of their results pages to be crawled by other search engines. They also allow easy contact and opt-out.

These scraper sites are taking your money and not producing conversions, its that simple


11:43 am on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Smart Pricing

Due to it, I have removed 90% of my adsense ads. If I don't get X per click, I remove the ads from that page. Supply and Demand.

Tropical Island

12:35 pm on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tropical_island is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Our content ads convert just as well as the search ads - sometimes better.

Costs have risen but so have CTR's. We actually had to use the geo feature to eliminate marginal and non converting countries. This has really helped with results.

We have also added AdSense which now offsets our entire AdWords spend.

One thing I notice about ads that show up on our site is many do not specify where they are located and probably end up getting a lot of useless clicks.

If you are advertising in content make sure that the potential clicker understands where you are. Unlike search where the search types in "New York widget" in content you could show up on a content site aimed at Puerto Rico. If the clicker does not know you are in New york until he actually clicks on the ad then it will end up costing you and not converting.


12:59 pm on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)


How many products do you have and how many keywords?

What was your average position on a typical ad, and how did it change over the past year?

Do you try out new ad texts and run them alongside old ones?

I get the feeling I don't have quite enough infomation to work out whats wrong and that would be a good start.


3:46 pm on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Thanks for all the replies.

Jim_w: Did google adsense just start smart pricing this year? Also, who did you put up in their place?

Tropical Island: Thanks for the info. We haven't done content ads since late 2003 since the conversion ratios were so low. I know they changed them and said they were going to be better, but I didn't belive it. I'll try it again. Thanks for the advice.

We have about 500 products on the site and we have a total of about 300 keywords, but there are only around 20 different categories that we target, so most of our keywords are just more specific versions of our root keywords. Here are some numbers from Jun to Sept for 04 and 05:

2004 vs. 2005
Clicks 102,502 vs. 63,231
Impressions 5,184,817 vs. 3,314,265
CTR 1.9% vs. 1.9%
Avg. CPC .16 vs. .18
Cost $16,702.29 vs. $11,808.20
Conv. Rate .83% vs. .56%
Cost/Conv. $19.53 vs. $32.71

Thanks for your help!


4:00 pm on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member netmeg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Have your competitors significantly increased, in number or in exposure? My main three AdWords clients were pretty much the first in their individual areas to use Google AdWords, and life was sweet at the beginning, but now at least two of them have TONS of competition, some slimier than others. CPC has shot up from ten cents and $.25 to, in some cases, over $25.


6:53 pm on Oct 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member


I may have a unique situation due to the fact that I do not block competitorís ads. So for a while now, I believe using smart pricing, they have tried to only pay pennies to place their ads. When I see this, I remove the ads. Then they bid higher due to fewer ad view opportunities, so I put the ads back. Then once again they cut the price. This has gone on 2 or 3 times at least, and takes several months to play out this game of Ďfootsieí back and forth. Itís been going on for I would reckon a couple of quarters at least. Iím now thinking about putting only one ad on these pages like once every 10 page views. We of course have some pages that pay a MUCH higher value, consistently, and they stay the same.

So this is one view from an adsense side of the equation, which should be evaluated as a possible partial solution to your problem. Apparently, there IS money to be made on content ads, and it could give you more ad views at a lower price thus increasing your returns, depending on whom you are bidding against with your ads only showing on Google. If you dig in and find all the scraper sites, and block the ads from displaying there I would guess your return would be better.

I have several of was to make up the cost, which if I get less than .30 per click, isnít REAL hard to make up for. Sometimes it just impulse buyers but we have about 4 other ways that I would rather not discuss.

But, what the heck do I know?

running scared

6:17 pm on Oct 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

> Conversions dropping

Have your competitors raised the bar? If others increase their conversions, yours will drop.


4:59 am on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)


I spend a lot of time in my adwords account and I have thousands of keywords. It seems to me you don't have that many, and you CTR seems a little on the low side - although I've never sold guitars (if thats what you do).

There are lots and lots of techniques involved in getting your keywords in good positions for less money than your competitors pay. Its not just a case of paying as much as you can afford. I'm not really inclined to go over these techniques with half the planet's webmasters reading though - just be aware that there are methods.

Has your average position slipped this past year?


6:03 pm on Oct 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

We have seen an increase in the number of competitors, so an increase in bid price was to be expected. We were ready for that, but just not for a massive drop in conversion rates. All year I've been thinking that it was just a bad year, or that we were getting beat by the competition, but then I just started wondering if google had changed something that was screwing things up for us. It sounds like it's probably just the competition, but I'm still not sure.
AlexMiles - I'm really interested in what you were saying about raising our position. I would really appreciate it.


[edited by: eWhisper at 6:14 pm (utc) on Oct. 12, 2005]
[edit reason] Please don't drop email addresses. See TOS. [/edit]


10:35 am on Oct 13, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

...I'm wondering if they changed something in January that made it worse for everyone...

I recall posting here about 6 months back asking similar. Something certainly happened at the beginning of the year and I've never been able to figure out the "who, what, where, when and why" of it.

It was a bit like waking in the morning and finding your left-hand drive car had suddenly become a right--hand drive overnight. It still worked - but something was different :-)

All very vague I know and, at this stage in the year, quite meaningless. The thing is to adapt and move on. Question, learn, adapt. Repeat...



6:43 am on Oct 14, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

3 points for you to look into:

1. your CTR has not changed in a year - go back to school on this one, even with more competitors thats not a hi CTR, have you tested anything to improve it over the last year?

2. maybe you need to reaccess your landing pages, do your competicion do anything differently, things you think might work?

3. have you tried other ppc sources - some converft better than others, depending on product.

finally - best of luck.


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