Google Tweaks AdWords To Give Landing Page Quality More Weight

After quietly testing in Brazil, Spanish-speaking Latin America, Spain, and Portugal, Google will roll out a new algorithm globally that gives more weight to landing page quality when it comes to AdWords Quality Score. This means ads with landing pages that Google deems to be most relevant to the query will be able to rank higher for lower cost-per-click bids.

“What we’ve seen is that there are ads available in the auction that are as good a quality as the top ads. But the landing pages — the merchant sites, the advertiser landing pages — are of much higher quality than the ads that we see at the top of our auction,” Jonathan Alferness, director of product management on Google’s ad quality team told me. This, says Alferness, means the user experience isn’t what it could be. Hence the change to give more weight to landing page quality. “In the end, we believe that this will result in better quality experience for the users.”

Landing page quality has long been a factor in Google AdWords, but more as a negative signal. If an advertiser’s landing page was particularly terrible or misleading, advertisers could have their ads rejected or their accounts suspended or revoked — depending on how bad the policy violation was. The new change will assign landing page quality a positive value, incentivizing advertisers to make sure the landing page’s keywords and content are closely aligned with the keywords for which they’re bidding. Ads with high landing page quality will get a “strong boost” upward in the auction, according to Alferness.

Alferness says Google will crawl the landing pages associated with every ad and make a determination as to its quality.

“What we always ask our advertisers to focus on is relevance — choose a landing page or site experience that is both relevant to the keywords that you’re targeting and also a good experience for end users,” said Alferness. “This is just continuing to sort of push on those best practices. I gives us the ability to really reward those advertisers that have been doing this, whose landing pages really are some of the best in our systems.”

The change will roll out in the next week or two. Advertisers may see some variations in ad position and keyword Quality Score at first, but things should settle down within a couple of weeks, according to Google.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Features: General | Google: AdWords | Top News


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  • andrewchris

    good article!

    will relevancy be determined solely by on-page content? i am seeing quality scores negatively impacted because of high bounce rates, despite the fact that the hgh bounce rates are a result of the landing page offering exactly what users searched for/needed (ie no need for users to move past the landing page)

  • Winooski

    Not to be contrarian about the whole thing, but I recall a recent SEL post by Rimm-Kaufman Group co-founder & CEO George Michie in which he says, “If you run a legitimate business and the ads link to the right pages on your site, and the pages load reasonably fast, you’re home free. Moving pixels around on the page isn’t going to lead you to QS Nirvana.”

    Michie says that, because CTR (for the KW, for all the ads, and for the display URLs) is the best factor that makes Google money, “Any component of QS that diminishes the role of CTR in this equation loses them money, at least in the short run.”

    His conclusion? “The engines aren’t going to swing too far away from CTR as the ultimate measure of quality, because doing so costs them money.”

    Worth a look:

  • Chris L. Melfi

    the real test is to see if companies like service magic and iyp’s that prey on small business get penilized for the crap form submission landing pages they have. thats generally all they are is a submission form as a landing page, two sentences tops. if G stays true to it’s update these places are about to loose their shirts.

  • George Michie

    Chris M, I suspect those folks are among the targets of this update. I’m willing to wager that a great many web designers will use this QS change as marketing fodder to justify landing page tuning when the fact is Google is just looking to reward folks who put thought into the Keyword-landing page choices. I have a hard time imagining Google rewarding the kinds of improvements identified through MVT with a good designer supplying the test variables.

  • George Michie

    Winooski, thanks for the shout out! Good to know someone reads my stuff :-)

    I stand by the argument that this new landing page QS weighting isn’t likely to wade into the grey area of whether a sub-category page is “better” than a quality search results page, or whether bombing the keyword into the text of the page dynamically makes pages more relevant. It seems more likely aimed at lazy folks who point everything at the home page, or a signup form, or sloppy folks who pick the wrong page.

    That said, I’m trying to get a phone call with the Google product team to verify the intent.

  • Chas

    Good luck on that call. The intent? To push the lower quality beef down the chute into G+, before they are enticed by the sweet ad grain at Farmville. MS isn’t even a contender, as it can’t even rope in the stragglers. Do Pandas… you get the drift.

  • Michael Wienick

    Actually I have much bigger issues with agencies and how they prey on small businesses. Service Magic and similar type companies only charge customers when they receive a lead and have fairly loose credit rates. Granted I’m biased as the head of a small player in the home improvement lead generation space.

    I come from an agency background – and paying an agency hourly fees for no guarantee of any leads will never work out well for a small home improvement business. That agency is not going to have the data from running nationwide campaigns that a Service Magic or QualitySmith has. The agency is not going to have a 15 person full time home improvement internet marketing team, but QualitySmith does. We charge our customers on a per lead basis, this fee is less than any agency would end up costing on a cost per conversion basis.

    Back to the topic at hand – yep I agree with George Michie (George I don’t know if you remember me I interviewed with you just when Rimm Kaufman was getting off the ground – I ended up taking a job a in NY, but was very impressed with your operation) Google is not going to do anything that will hurt their main source of revenues.

    I’d love to get some clarification on what metrics they are using to determine landing page analysis, because I doubt they are actually analyzing the language on the page. Perhaps a metric such as bounce rate will be a determining factor.

    - mike

  • B.Q.

    I think with relevancy coming in picture, proper keyword research and rich content would be one major factor which would determine ranking. The only problem which I see is they will make landing page keyword rich even though rest of website keyword is irrelevant or crappy.

  • S.E.

    Far be it for me to suggest that you industry “insiders” may be approaching this from an obtuse angle, but your “frowns” suggests possible incomplete awareness of Google’s ahem, “influence” on SEO dynamics, forms, channels, deliveries, and most of all VALUE to it’s DEEP stakeholder-chain. Once the algorithm’s “Best practices” are revealed, do you really think even staunch detractor’s will not change landing page designs (which, gee whiz, exist DIRECTLY connected to SEO?) Then Templates and third-party webshops will follow and three months from now you will praise the “performance” of AdWords. I can’t WAIT to see AdAge’s take on this if they even have the ambiance and sand to offer a “disjointed” observation as you have.

  • S.E.

    I would like to retract my previous suggestion that you are possibly unaware of the myriad factors and Google’s “ownership”, excuse me, “stewardship” of SEO
    I agree with the poster above on Business integrity being the best search positioning “tool”, but alas, this “relevance-by-purchase” is what catapulted Google to where it is from day one. That being said, as long as Google provide a “product” that appeals to entities unable to compete where it counts most, and honorably, they will continue to break revenue records and continue influencing the digital ecosphere…It’s not cheating it’s “marketing performance”

  • Pravin Gupta

    Well ! ! Good news for Google adwords now quantity & Quality check then priority of any ads.

    But, I think google search in write a +math then showing a priority basis as before search “math” …… Then what is effect on google adwords keywords becoz more PPC advertiser write a KW as +math, +question etc how show ! ! It’s a not good news for PPC Ads ! ! !


  • George Michie

    Mike, I remember you well! The one that got away. Glad you’re doing well.

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