AdWords Landing Page Quality Update

The Inside AdWords Blog makes an announcement today that another update is coming in relation to the quality of advertiser’s landing pages. Two changes will take place in how AdWords evaluates landing page quality. The first involves incorporating landing page quality into the Quality Score for your contextually-targeted ads, using the same evaluation process as they do for ads showing on Google and the search network. The second involves improving the algorithm for evaluating landing page quality and incorporating landing page content retrieved by the AdWords system.
So how will this affect advertisers? Those who are providing a poor experience within their sites may notice a decrease in traffic across the content network as a result of these changes. It is reported that the amount of advertisers this has an impact on will be minimal.

Both of these changes will affect a very small portion of advertisers, so the vast majority of advertisers will not be affected at all by either change. However, those who may be providing a low quality user experience will see an increase in their minimum bids for Google.com and the search network and/or a decrease in traffic across the content network. In most cases, we expect that the higher minimum bids will cause the low quality ads and keywords to become “inactive for search.”

So how do you as an AdWords advertiser ensure that your landing pages are up to par? Following are some guidelines.

Provide Quality and Relevant Content
That seems like the obvious. However so often advertisers will point ads to their home page as opposed to sending the user directly to the page that provides the most relevant information related to what the ad promised. Why make the person who has already conducted a search for something and is then attracted by your ad, search all over again once they land on your site? That is essentially what you are doing if you do not send them to the most relevant page. If you are promoting a specific product or service, send them to that product/service page. If you are offering a free quote, send them directly to the quote page. If users don’t immediately see what the ad promised, they may leave your site in frustration and never return.

Google provides the following pointers within their landing page quality guidelines:

  • Link to the page on your site that provides the most useful and accurate information about the product or service in your ad.
  • Ensure that your landing page is relevant to your keywords and your ad text.
  • Distinguish sponsored links from the rest of your site content.
  • Try to provide information without requiring users to register. Or, provide a preview of what users will get by registering.
  • In general, build pages that provide substantial and useful information to the end-user. If your ad does link to a page consisting of mostly ads or general search results (such as a directory or catalog page), provide additional information beyond what the user may have seen in your ad or on the page prior to clicking on your ad.
  • You should have unique content (should not be similar or nearly identical in appearance to another site). For more information, see our affiliate guidelines.

How Is Personal Information Treated
In this world where it is becoming more difficult to protect our personal information, keeping it out of the hands of those who would use it for harm, it is important that you communicate to your users not only how you will protect their personal information but disclose how you plan to use it. Providing a privacy statement is a good way to fulfill this. Whether a that statement has its own dedicated page or be included in a contact or order form, it should answer the following:

  • Why are you collecting personal information? (This is particularly important to address if you collect information soon after a user enters your site.)
  • How will you use, or potentially use, personal information?
  • What options do users have to easily limit the use of their personal information?

Site Navigation
Finally make sure your site is easy to navigate. In other words, don’t make people think. Provide an easy way for them to find what they are looking for and more importantly, complete the process of either contacting you or purchasing from you. Again, some guidelines from Google:

  • Provide an easy path for users to purchase or receive the product or offer in your ad.
  • Avoid excessive use of pop-ups, pop-unders, and other obtrusive elements throughout your site.
  • Avoid altering users’ browser behavior or settings (such as back button functionality, browser window size) without first getting their permission.
  • Turn to Google’s Webmaster Guidelines for detailed recommendations (which will help your site perform better in Google’s search results as well).
  • If your site automatically installs software, consider adopting Google’s Software Principles.

One final though regarding the updates to the quality scores is that these changes will not affect your ads position or ranking in Google search but because it does affect minimum bid requirements, it may affect your positioning in the contextual environment.

While one’s landing page quality is directly correlated with the minimum bid required for one’s ads to run, it does not affect your ads position (or ‘rank’, as it is often referred to) at all. However, since there is no minimum bid requirement for contextually-targeted ads, low quality landing pages will result in the need to bid higher to compete in the auction, which could also impact your position on pages in the network.

David Wallace

David Wallace, co-founder and CEO of SearchRank, is a recognized expert in the industry of search and social media marketing. Since 1997, David has been involved in developing successful search engine and social media marketing campaigns for large and small businesses. Follow +David Wallace on Google + as well as Twitter.

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