PPC Data On “Farmer” Shows Traffic Quality Improvement

Some have speculated that Google made the “Farmer” update to help its advertisers, and its own bottom line, but data from large search marketing agencies shows revenue wasn’t the search engine’s primary signal. Yet, data from Efficient Frontier and the Rimm Kaufmann Group indicate that revenue-per-click is showing a modest improvement, all the same.

Both agencies saw data the confirmed what’s been reported by others, most prominently Sistrix, with Sistrix’ top 100 “losers” dropping 43%, in terms of paid click traffic to a set of Efficient Frontier’s advertisers analyzed by Siddharth Shah, senior director of business analytics at the company.

Data and image courtesy Efficient Frontier

Efficient Frontier’s winners and losers, listed by click traffic, seems to confirm other reports.

Data and image courtesy Efficient Frontier

Data and image courtesy Efficient Frontier

However, neither Efficient Frontier nor the Rimm Kaufmann Group saw a correlation between revenue-per-click (RPC) and the drop in clicks, indicating that Google didn’t use this metric as the primary signal of how rankings should be changed.

“We see no evidence that within this group there is any link between sales per click and the change in traffic share,” writes Mark Ballard, senior research analyst at Rimm Kaufmann group, in a blog post.

Shah of Efficient Frontier concurs, saying, “This is surprising. You would expect that a site with a much poorer RPC than average RPC would suffer a bigger drop in clicks than a site that has a higher RPC than average. Indeed you would expect that a site that has had a higher RPC to gain clicks post Farmer. This suggests that the Farmer update squelched clicks from sites not necessarily on the basis of monetization quality.”

Yet, the change does appear to be benefiting advertisers, Shah said. ” I have seen improvements of Google Syndicated traffic ROI from 6% to 35%,” he told Search Engine Land. “On an overall basis, Google’s traffic quality has consistently increased by 10%. This is significant because a higher ROI would lead to bigger budgets from performance advertisers.”

Ballard from Rimm Kaufmann hasn’t specifically seen improvements, but expects them to be modest. “Assuming Google doesn’t completely reverse the changes due to complaints, the overall impact will likely be very minor with sales-per-click from partner sites improving in the low single digits,” he wrote. “It’s a start!”

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


About The Author: is Executive Features Editor at Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998.

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  • Nathan Safran

    “Assuming Google doesn’t completely reverse the changes due to complaints…”

    We (Conductor) posted a study: http://blog.conductor.com/2011/03/google-farmer-update-shakeup-followed-by-unexpected-recovery/
    that suggests there is ongoing volatility and Google has been continuing to tweak the algorithm…”

    Nathan Safran
    Senior Research Analyst
    Conductor, Inc.

  • http://www.dropdigger.com/ Carl Eisenstein

    I don’t believe for a second that this update had any intentional impact on Google’s ad revenue. I think that this was purely aimed at search quality, and was long overdue – everything I’ve seen from a user point of view has been positive.

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