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I don't get the secrecy?

Google - Just tell us what you want!

     
11:58 pm on Jul 19, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't get it. If Google wants a specific quality from a page, why don't they tell us the specific rules? Why don't they tell us what is and is not allowed? Don't you generally get what you want faster by asking for it?

Quality is too general a term not to be properly defined by those asking for it. Something that is of quality to me may not be of quality to you.

I asked my rep exactly what needed to be changed for my website to have a higher score. She said "you might want to have less links between the landing page, and your conversion page." (The customer has to click too many times to get what they want)
I asked her - "Are you saying that because you have specific knowlege of the algo being used, and it will help me out? Or are you just saying that because you think it might help me out? The reason I ask is because my own research shows that the extra page in between increases my conversion rate."
She said "Oh I'm not saying that with any specific knowlege of the algo. You know your site best and should change it accordingly."

What? What the heck are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to change our site, when we don't know what to change?

And before any of you "Holier than thou" types chime in. My site is not a scraper, nor does it have any adsense ads whatsoever. It is also not an affiliate site (not that there's anything wrong with that) nor does my site offer any free products. It follows Google's vague quality outline to the letter. And has an extremely high conversion rate according to industry standards.

Eventually of course we will figure it out. The secrecy to me only points to a money grab. It may not be, but with such a high level of secrecy I'm left to assume that is.

5:12 am on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Yes, you state exactly what I think google should have done. Actually google did this very poorly. They should have:

[1] 60 days before implementation, they should have sent an email explaining that your site does not meet quality standards and tell you how to fix it, or refer you to a live human to talk to about this. With 60 days to fix the problems, you would not be left high and dry with your business ruined.

Its like the 1929 stock market crash for many of us. Google does not care about us, or respect their advertisers, or they would not have done such an awful and inconsiderate move. (At least without an explicit warning way in advance with options to fix it).

5:48 am on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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europeforvisitors and/or rbacal, your thoughts? :)
6:08 am on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I don't think they will ever give site-specific advice, since it goes against their 'use an algo for everthing' approach.

Like others have said, there is profiling going on in order to weed out ads/sites/domains they dont want.
Maybe wait a bit and then look at the ads and sites that obviously have'nt been weeded out. Find out what they have in common and use that as a guide.
Makes being an advertiser much more challanging for some.

7:29 am on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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One of our clients got hit very hard by the new quality score. We asked for a human review and 24 hours later we got some very specific detailed info about what should be changed on the site. Info that actually made sense. It didn't come from the regular google rep but from their tech support. Maybe our client got a special treatment as he spends several millions a year on adwords. We also kept insisting on getting specific advice.

Our client will now change his site and we are excited to see if QS can actually increase once a site has been doomed.

7:45 am on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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we got some very specific detailed info

Wow -- that's interesting. Can you share the nature of what needed to be corrected without giving away specifics of your site?

12:27 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Why does every post where someone defends the quality of their penalized site/page end with a mention of their Conversion rate. I am going to say it for the thousandth time... your conversion rate has nothing to do with your quality score.

A site that gets 25% conversions could have an awful quality score, and one with 0% conversions could have a perfect quality score.

1:53 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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"..A site that gets 25% conversions could have an awful quality score, and one with 0% conversions could have a perfect quality score. .."

Exactly, don't you think that this is flawed? Google's customeres are commercial in nature. Leave the fancy algo's for the SEO'd free search side. If this isn't considered , then their next finanical quarter will be as bad as Yahoo's. 30% drop in the stock price anyone? Looks as if Google may be a great short prior to the next Q's earnings announcement.

Of course , this has nothing to do with Q score, but has everything to do with Google jumping into the affiliate marketing network business. Say Bye to CJ, Linshare , etc. Too much $$ laying on the table for G not to jump in. Now that I think of it Valueclick (VLCK) may be a great short as well!

2:40 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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A site that gets 25% conversions could have an awful quality score, and one with 0% conversions could have a perfect quality score.

It's so true it's hillarious.

Here at Google we don't care if your advertising is relevant and your customers are buying the products they were searching for, what's important to us is the user experience.

2:48 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Exactly, don't you think that this is flawed? Google's customeres are commercial in nature. Leave the fancy algo's for the SEO'd free search side.

But users provide the "eyeballs" for Google's advertisers, and they also provide the clicks. That's why the "user experience" is important, and it's why it makes sense for Google to provide some consistency of user experience in both the organic and AdWords sections of the SERP.

If this isn't considered , then their next finanical quarter will be as bad as Yahoo's. 30% drop in the stock price anyone? Looks as if Google may be a great short prior to the next Q's earnings announcement.

Let's check back in three months.

Of course , this has nothing to do with Q score, but has everything to do with Google jumping into the affiliate marketing network business.

Are you suggesting that affiliate sites are the only sites that have been hit by the new landing-page "quality scores"?

Say Bye to CJ, Linshare , etc. Too much $$ laying on the table for G not to jump in. Now that I think of it Valueclick (VLCK) may be a great short as well!

Google may very well offer the option of CPA pricing at some point, but I don't think that has anything to do with the "quality score" and landing pages. The recent changes that everyone is talking about here are just the latest step in an evolutionary process that began at least 18 months ago and was discussed here at Webmaster World as early as November, 2004:

[webmasterworld.com...]

and:

[webmasterworld.com...]

[webmasterworld.com...]

Honest people can disagree on whether Google's new standards for landing pages are good for advertisers, users, or Google, but it's inaccurate to suggest (as some have done) that the emphasis on landing pages came out of the blue.

2:55 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Price gouging/ad banning by google is just that, the attempt to place the blame on "quality" inferring that they are demoting poor quality pages is just PR 101; Blame someone else! In this case google is blaming advertisers. It works like a charm, WalMart once blamed the weather for bad earnings.

We are dodgy but to cover tracks with the media lets blame the advertisers!

3:51 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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But users provide the "eyeballs" for Google's advertisers, and they also provide the clicks. That's why the "user experience" is important, and it's why it makes sense for Google to provide some consistency of user experience in both the organic and AdWords sections of the SERP.

And most of us agree with that - but the algo obviously doesn't.

You can't get a much better indicator of a "quality user experience" than a high conversion rate. Why would someone buy from me if they had a "poor experience"?

Google's mistake is in thinking that they can make an algo that will instantly know more about the user experience of those making specific searches, than those of us that have been catering to these searchers for many years.

3:51 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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But users provide the "eyeballs" for Google's advertisers, and they also provide the clicks. That's why the "user experience" is important, and it's why it makes sense for Google to provide some consistency of user experience in both the organic and AdWords sections of the SERP.

And most of us agree with that - but the algo obviously doesn't.

You can't get a much better indicator of a "quality user experience" than a high conversion rate. Why would someone buy from me if they had a "poor experience"?

Google's mistake is in thinking that they can make an algo that will instantly know more about the user experience of those making specific searches, than those of us that have been catering to these searchers for many years.

4:17 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There's an expression that goes: "Accept the things you can't control and change the things you can."
4:23 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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There's an expression that goes: "Accept the things you can't control and change the things you can."

I believe that it was Enron's CEO that said that - right before the colapse.

4:32 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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You can't get a much better indicator of a "quality user experience" than a high conversion rate. Why would someone buy from me if they had a "poor experience"?

And right here is the problem that cannot ever be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.

This is how you (and many others) define a quality user experience. It is not necessarily how I would define it, and it apparently is not how Google would define it either. Unfortunately, Google has not been effective at all in communicating just what they DO consider to be a quality user experience, and only given vague hints as to what does not qualify. I can understand why you think the conversion is the definitive sign of quality - because it is - for YOU. But that's a little myopic - when all you've got is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. Google's priorities are different. I think they want to insure a positive GOOGLE experience.

Until some way exists for these two polar opposites to somehow see into each other's heads, we'll be arguing and posting about this until kingdom come.

4:47 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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ok Netmeg - if you don't use conversion rates to measure the "user experience" and quality of your site, then what do you use to measure this experience?

I agree that there are a lot of sites out there that provide a negative google experience. However if I were to put out an Algo to get rid of them, and find that many of those sites stuck around, while many legit sites were put out, I'd make haste in changing the algo.

I think that their "Do no evil" slogan has doomed them. Because now any business type decision they make has to be cloaked in secrecy to defend their slogan.

5:03 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Hypothetically, if all information about user behavior was available I would rate a quality Google user experience on the following factors alone:

1) How often a user backclicks from the website they just visited back to Google and then clicks on another link on the same page (this tells me that particular user decided the first visited site did not answer his/her question they were looking for). As a subset of this, I would measure the time the user spent before clicking back.

2)I would track how often each user uses Googles searches before and after visiting each website. For example if the average google toolbar user visits google 10 times per day, but a pattern develops that after visiting my website the average user increases to visiting 11 times a day, that is a favorable quality indicator, if it drops to 9 that is a negative quality indicator.

These two measures alone tell me if the user search request is being met, and if the search customers are enjoying thier overall google experience more or less as a result of visiting my site. Obviously the amount of data involved is enormous, by my limited knowledge of statistics tells me that their is some way to do an analysis of variance on the customers usage patterns that would be an indicator of "user experience quality". Way over my head though.

The benefits of purely relying on user behavior is that all questions of aesthetics, taste and editorial quaility are effectively decided by each and every user and not subject to the personal tastes of a reviewer, whether a human reviewer or an alogrithmic reviewer. Just MHO's.

5:12 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Both of those are good jim2003. And if either one of those were low, it would be mirrored in your conversion rate.
5:13 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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europeforvisitors. I agree with many of your statements on WebmasterWorld and value your opinions. G's next Q will be below expectations. If I'm wrong, then feel free to link back here and "rub it in may face" ; )

Google is being very arbitrary in their targeting of sites. There are many large advertisers that are still being allowed to stay put on very poorly targeted keywords. All linking directly to non-targeted homepages. I'm sure they're not all paying $10 per click. It's the lack of fairness and even handedness about this process that is angering many here.

Just to add.. all this talk about the "google experience".. what are the guys at G? Hippies or businessmen?

5:20 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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ok Netmeg - if you don't use conversion rates to measure the "user experience" and quality of your site, then what do you use to measure this experience?

The site owner (in this case, Google) gets to decide what kind of "user experience" the site should offer--including what users are likely to find when they click on ads, not just the conversion rates that result from those clicks. As to what the factors going into the user experience might be, and why they can't be explained easily, see Rbacal's post on the topic in another recent thread.

I agree that there are a lot of sites out there that provide a negative google experience. However if I were to put out an Algo to get rid of them, and find that many of those sites stuck around, while many legit sites were put out, I'd make haste in changing the algo.

Sure, and if such mistakes are occurring, Google will want to fix the bugs in the algorithm for its own good. I don't think anyone with common sense would seriously claim that Google wants to exclude advertisers who contribute to a positive user experience as defined by Google.

I think that their "Do no evil" slogan has doomed them. Because now any business type decision they make has to be cloaked in secrecy to defend their slogan.

No, but the specific parameters governing Google's advertising and search algorithms will need to be "cloaked in secrecy" to prevent exploitation by site owners whose agendas differ from Google's.

5:34 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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No, but the specific parameters governing Google's advertising and search algorithms will need to be "cloaked in secrecy" to prevent exploitation by site owners whose agendas differ from Google's.

I would agree with that, but since Google has even made their agenda uber secret, no one really knows what their agenda is. How could a site owner even know that their agenda differs from google's.

5:39 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Conversion rate is kind of tough for Google to compare. I find it impossible to believe that all businesses will use Google analytics so that Google can compare. Since any methodolgy used ultimately results in a comparison among sites, I don't think Google can compare your conversion to my conversion rate. Another problem with conversion rates is that their is some subjectivity involved in defining conversion. Is someone bookmarking my page a conversion? how do I site that sells 5% of its customers a $10 product to a site that sells .5% of its customers a $3,000 product? whose conversion rate is higher? How about returns? How do you compare scammy customer electronics sites with too good to be true prices,that "convert" but then call the customer later to tell them what they ordered isn't available, and suggest an alternative.

I will grant that conversion rate is an element of consumer behavior and if Google had perfect data, it could be a useful factor. But I don't foresee Google ever having perfect data for that factor.

5:50 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I will grant that conversion rate is an element of consumer behavior and if Google had perfect data, it could be a useful factor. But I don't foresee Google ever having perfect data for that factor.

I'm not really arguing that google should use conversion rates for their decision (I know that they don't have enough access to that kind of info). What I am trying to say is that their algo is flawed. Those of us that do track every element of our sites, and do have access to that kind of info, can see that there is a fundamental flaw in google's algo. Google does not even know what the user does past the first page - unless you use analytics.

Maybe analytics is a factor in the algo. Maybe that should be put to a poll - How many sites with a low quality score use analytics?

6:16 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I am sympathetic to you. Personally I believe that simply relying on CTR and the CPC bid will allow the market to work most efficiently for Google, and its users. And that the whole algorithm concept of measuring quality just looks like it is a function of too many cooks stirring the pot.

But I concede that Google is the Google shareholder's toy (note that I said shareholders, not employees, not founders, the shareholders own the toy now) and however the management who represents those shareholders wants to run thier site is thier preogitive. My original response was to your direct question:

"if you don't use conversion rates to measure the "user experience" and quality of your site, then what do you use to measure this experience?"

Your question presupposes that you don't use conversion rates, and supposes that quality is the factor you are solving for. I was only trying to answer the question with a methology that I believe would work and is objective. Original disclaimer of OMHO's still stands.

6:31 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Your question presupposes that you don't use conversion rates, and supposes that quality is the factor you are solving for. I was only trying to answer the question with a methology that I believe would work and is objective. Original disclaimer of OMHO's still stands.

And your answers made perfect common sense. Hopefully those cooking up this algo think the way that you do.

6:42 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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Venrooy - I have multiple clients using Adwords for multiple situations. Not all of them are sales related; some are merely informational. Some campaigns are not meant to directly inspire immediate sales; they are for establishing brand recognition. More than one site actually has multiple TYPES of conversions - a sale, a lead (which is a request for a quotation) and a catalog request (which is a signup). I do not use Google Analytics on any of my sites, because the first time I tried it, I found it slowed things down to a crawl, so I took it off and haven't tried it since. I'm also not using Google's conversion tracking in every instance, since I have developed my own methods for tracking user behavior. Therefore, Google can have no real idea of what my conversion rates are, or have been - and yet, all my accounts are fine. Better, in fact, because some of our competitors who were driving the costs up have dropped out.

I believe I entered an item last week which is no doubt buried several pages back by now, listing the various things that I do (or have my clients do) as part of trying to create a quality user experience - the post is here --> [webmasterworld.com ] but nobody was really interested in hearing it.

All I know is, with a dozen client accounts (all of which are small businesses except one university dept.) I'm still okay. So as far as I'm concerned, until Google tells me differently (and yes, they may) I'm on to something.

7:33 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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What do you mean by "I'm still OK"? Does that mean that none of your adwords went up in price? Or does that mean that they did go up and you are still getting by?

I did give your other post a look, and it does have some good advice.

7:36 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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because some of our competitors who were driving the costs up have dropped out.

That may be good for you - but it's not good for google or google's share holders.

7:36 pm on July 20, 2006 (gmt 0)

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I have about 7500 words across all accounts; five of them went up from 30 cents to 40 cents, and 1 went from 5 cents to 10 cents, which is about normal for any given week.

That may be good for you - but it's not good for google or google's share holders.

True. But some of them (I suspect) were less than ideal for us OR for Google. There's at least one that I reported for click fraud on our ads, and another who was running ads under three different company names on the same keywords and same products (and duh! two of them had the same landing page)

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