Your landing page quality affects your AdWords quality score. and quality score has a large impact on the success of an AdWords account. So, it’s important to separate the fact from the fiction about what affects landing page quality score, and to understand what you can do to improve your landing page.
Myth 1: My keyword has to be on the landing page
False. The search engines understand semantic indexing. If a page is about cell phones, it probably has the words: Bluetooth, 3G, mobile or cell, phone, etc on the landing page. If your keyword was ‘mobile phone’ and you sent traffic to your page about ‘cell phones’ that did not mention the word mobile on it, your quality score should not suffer.
It can be a good practice from a consumer’s standpoint to use their lexicon (mobile or cell); however, it is not an absolute must. The closer related your landing page’s theme is to your keyword, the better your landing page quality score will be. However, it is not necessary to use the keyword on the landing page from the quality score perspective.
Myth 3: My site is in Flash, so I can never have a good quality score
False. Google has made many improvements with regards to indexing flash. This does not mean they will index your site properly. An exercise you can try is to put your URL into the AdWords Keyword Tool and have your page spidered. If the suggested keywords are similar to what you think the page is about, then you are generally in good shape. If there aren’t any results, or the suggested keywords are completely different than what you think the page is about, you may wish to try making your site more search-engine friendly using progressive enhancement technologies such as SIFR (and see the SEO: Flash area here on Search Engine Land or resources at Jane & Robot).
Myth 4: My page is all images. The new load time guidelines are lowering my quality score
False. Google only looks at how long it takes the page’s HTML to load in determining landing page load times. If your site is loading so slowly that you see a problem with load times in your AdWords account, you have larger issues with your site. Just loading a page’s HTML (not scripts, nor images) should be exceptionally quick. It should be noted, Google has said they may eventually incorporate all page elements into the load time for determining quality score. If this happens, you may need to optimize your images, scripts, and other called files.
Myth 5: Adding an ‘about us’ page will increase my quality score
While this is a good practice from a user standpoint, it is not an absolute must. As above, the actual AdWords guideline is to be transparent to the user. My testing has not shown that this will help quality score yet. However, it is a good practice as this could very easily be added to the landing page quality score formula and being transparent to users about your business is very much inline with Google’s goals.
Myth 6: Google hates affiliates
False. The question affiliates should ask themselves is: “Was the user’s search experience made better by visiting my page before going to the merchant’s page?”. If you review several services and show the benefits and features of each service so that a searcher can make a more informed decision – then you’ve helped the search process. If your page is just about a single product and every single link from that page just goes to the same merchant page, then you’ve not added to the search experience.
There are many exceptional affiliate sites that add to the search experience. Google does not hate affiliates. Google hates making the search process longer for the user.
Myth 7: Microsites and dedicated landing pages no longer work
False. While Google does wish a user to have choices, you can easily build a page that showcases a single product or service while still giving the user navigational choices. While microsites or one-page-wonder sites have taken some quality score hits over the past couple years, dedicated landing pages are still effective.
When designing your page, look for non-intrusive ways to add some navigational elements to the page. If you consider this from the user’s standpoint, the page you chose for them may not be the actual product they wished to see. More importantly, if a user wants to find out more about your company before committing to trusting you with personal information; do they have any options?
Myth 8: If my site doesn’t have a high Pagerank, I can’t get a good quality score
False. First, PageRank is stored aT the page level and not the website level, but we’ll ignore that fact for the moment. Google has a completely different bot and algorithm for pagerank versus landing page quality score. While both ads-bot and Googlebot may share some data, the way the data is actually processed is separate and for completely different purposes. A brand new site can do well in PPC. A site that is banned from the organic SERPs can do well in PPC. A site banned from PPC can do well in the organic SERPs. Landing page quality and natural search rankings are completely unrelated to each other.
Myth 9: If I only have manufacturer descriptions, I will never have a good landing page quality score
Sometimes true. One of the quality signals Google looks for is unique content. If there are many sites using the exact same manufacturer description, the question to ask yourself is: Why should someone read this information on my site as opposed to the other many sites out there? If you can mix up the content with other information, offer buying guide decision help, or offer other unique content for a searcher – it will help your quality score. However, if you must use manufacturer descriptions, your landing page quality score may suffer some, so that just means you need to focus more on increasing the other factors that affect quality score.
It is important to note the landing page quality’s influence to your account. Landing page quality score is not used for all of the algorithms that determine your account’s visibility. You can view information about your landing page quality score within your AdWords account. Just click on the magnifying glass icon located next to a keyword within your account and you can see detailed information about your landing page.
While it is important to maintain a good landing page quality score for your AdWords quality score. It is much more crucial to ensure that when a consumer arrives at your landing page, you can turn them from a visitor into a conversion.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.