Google Says You Can’t Buy The Top Ad Spot

By: WebProNews Staff - May 27, 2008

Wealthy businesses and smaller operations all compete fairly when it comes to testing ad quality, and thus a placement at the top isn’t a divine right for anyone.

Ad quality becomes a bigger issue in the coming weeks, as Google plans to subject advertisers to landing page load time assessments. Speedier pages, which will mean those without lots of plugged-in third-party content, will receive better ad quality scores.

Google’s strategy considers quality as king of the advertising and visitor relationship. Relevant search results are no longer enough; it might be suggested that certain competing search engines would suit people as well as Google does for queries.

Better ad destinations make the organic search results look that much more valuable. Google’s strategic shift from quantity to quality ads over the past few months means they believe the company makes more money from a single well-conforming ad than several less-pertinent ones. Google isn’t about to leave money on the table, and neither should its clients.

The issue of ad quality appeared in a post at Google’s Testing blog. Alex Icev wrote about the team and process involved with ranking the quality of search results, and how that transitioned into work on the advertising side.

"We needed to change a system that was predominately driven by human influence into one that (built) its merit based on feedback from the community," Icev said. He detailed a little of the process behind this, especially in the context of moving poor performers out of view:


The idea was that we would penalize the ranking of paid ads in several circumstances: few users were clicking on a particular ads, an ad’s landing page was not relevant, or if users don’t like an ad’s content. We want to provide our users with absolutely the most relevant ads for their click.


Even though the big change to scoring ads based on concepts like landing page speed hits everyone, we think the bigger spenders have an advantage, and always will have, when it comes to bidding for certain lucrative keywords.

The most competitive keywords spur advertisers to improve their all-around page quality. When all other factors are equal, the bid spend makes the difference. Advertisers spend more, and Google profits. With luck, the visiting ad-clicker benefits the most.

WebProNews Staff

About the Author

WebProNews StaffWebProNews | Breaking eBusiness News Your source for investigative ebusiness reporting and breaking news.

View all posts by WebProNews Staff
  • marty

    Google including load time in the Quality Score is another sign that they’re trying to kill the long-style sales letter page.  Unfortunately, they may be stepping on their own feet as those long sales letters do sell, y’know?  If shorter sales pages convert less, it could impact peoples’ spending budgets too.  Course, Google makes all the rules I guess, so we’ll just have to live with it.  Thanks for the tip and I’ve included a mention on my website waves blog.

  • Shawn Gusz

    The question is, if google is implementing page landing times into the ad quality performance, is page loading time now a big factor in regular organic search listings? will a page with a faster loading time now be higher in the rankings then a page with a slower loading time, assuming all other factors held constant?


  • Nathan Lands


    Great question!  That was the first thing that popped into my mind as well. 

    It would make sense that they could also be figuring in loading times for organic search results.  Their ultimate goal is to provide the most relevant and best result for search users so I’d say we can assume they are taking in to count load time.

    If anyone finds any more concrete evidence of this I’d love to know!


    HiYaYa Inc.

  • Mark

    Everytime I turn around, Goggle is changing something..They always tell me I am not spending enough on pay per click.I get up to about  fourth position and then the next thingI know I am back down to ten. Go figure.  am a small business and I can’t compete.

    • Jill

      I agree!!! The more I spend, the more I seem to have to spend just to stay where I was. I don’t seem to climb up at all, unless I spend more than I make! Not a good way to stay in business.  I have had some good traffic from free ads in craigs list, kijiji and, does anyone know of any other free ad sites that work as well as these 3?  Now I am being found on the first couple of pages by Google for many of my items, but if my pages don’t load fast enough, will I fall again?

  • robbierobot

    They’re not trying to kill small businesses – they’re just trying to step on their necks until they give up their lunch money.  And of course, if they can’t afford the ever-increasing price, then Google is happy for them to drop off the ad network.  They’ll just make more room for companies that hire slicker ad agencies to come up with the kind of link text that passes the Google sniff test.  So, no, they’re not trying to kill small businesses, but if they die, no sweat off Google.

    The TV advertising marketplace is still a good place to be for small businesses if they know where to find a cheap tv spot.  I just wouldn’t use Googles TV offering, since they insist on setting up bidding wars where none existed before.  You’ll get a better deal going to a real small biz TV ad agency that can negotiate the price down for you.  And of course, Google offers a handful of discount production companies to make your ad, but last time I checked, none of them seemed very good.    For my money, is a better deal.  At least their ad is included free, and they handle the air time for you.

  • JP Werlin

    This one may be a little far-fetched, but it wouldn’t surprise me if the actual logic for this decision followed something along these lines:

    1. Clicks drive Google’s revenue

    2. In order to click more, people need more time.

    3. A major time suck, cummulatively speaking, are page load times. (Just imagine the cummulative page load times for all searches on a given day. I would make an educated guess that a small % of sites drives the overwhelming majority of load times following Pareto’s 80/20 Principle on steroids.)

    4. Decreasing page load times frees up time that could be spend driving clicks.

    Result – Google can make more money.

    I know, call me crazy that Google wants to make more money, but I do think this has something to do with it.

  • Yahoo Man

    I found yahoo to be a better search engine for find information.

  • Frank

    I think Google is going too far and if you read between the lines it is another step towards wiping out the competition.

    After adsense got going adsense publishers were not allowed to have similar text ads from anyone else on the same page as Google ads so its 100% Google or no Google.

    Then we have to have links in from other sites (but not pages of links) and link to other sites to get a good ranking.  I run about 37 sites for various companies and individuals and those that are compatible swap links and banners but none of these are recocognized by Google analytics, presumably because they are all managed by me.

    Then paid ads become a no no so all my sites that swap banner ads with other compatible sites have to be redesigned to have the banners removed because they look like paid ads and I have to find ways to swap links using text only – preferably lots of text so now the sites start to look like the spam sites that are nothing but Google ads with a bit of text to make them appear OK to the Google bots.

    Now they want fast loading pages which is fine by me as I agree fast loading is essential but what if other users on my shared server are slowing it down?  Will I now be penalized because other web sites are slowing mine down.

    About a year ago I had a number of sites at page rank 4 but the page ranks have dropped to 0 – 2 while the sites have become more successful with more content, far more traffic, more members, more links, etc.

    I am seriously looking at alternatives to Google because it is becoming a can’t win situation for people like me working hard to produce good quality sites while I am fed with every search result being full of one page junk sites whoes only purpose is to shove Google ads in my face.



    • Tammy Elaine

      Amen!  Thank you.  Well said!

      I face the same challenges and it seems that everyday there is a new "no-no" or something I am not doing that jeopardizes my ranking with them.

      God Bless

  • Free Traffic

    Small advertisers or those affiliates that can’t edit the html or don’t have technical know-how to speed up page load time… will try to compete or bid higher to beat those big savvy advertisers.

    In either, this means more income per click by big g from big and small advertisers.

    Big g try cope up with their declining stock price.

  • Tammy Elaine

    While the internet "Gurus" fret over their ability to continue using long sales pages, webmasters like myself who offer "free information" for sick people shake our heads in frustration, wondering just how much more complicated and difficult search engines can make it for us to make a difference with our websites.  

    While medical intstitutions, physicians and businesses offering treatment protocols can afford to pay site development companies to produce these kind of SEO websites and budgets to run advertising campaigns to get listed high enough to be seen,  the medical community, as a whole, is responsible for the lack of awareness, effective treatments and validation for Fibromyalgia patients in the first place.   Those who suffer from the disease have been forced to search for information using other resources; including private websites without sponsorship, coorporate funding or huge advertising budgets, such as the website I maintain.   Major search engines are in the process of "optimizing" the web to the point of censorship and small business is not the only segment being choked out.   Webmasters such as myself will soon be forced to find sponsorship, effectively monetize or literally drop off the "internet earth" because we cannot compete and be found on these new, "optimized" levels.

    Of course, it’s about the seach engines making more money.  Is it ever about anything else?  Afterall they are a business.  ( You cannot fault businesses for attempting to make profits.)  Although there are many who blame WalMart for the failure of many "Main St." businesses by "optimizing" discount shopping.  In truth, if the people living in these towns had been responsible enough to educate themselves just a little, or cared about the livelihood of their towns enough to support the "Main St." businesses, their towns would not be dead streets now where there used to be thriving commerce.

    I know what many of you are thinking…"If you can’t run with the big dogs, then stay on the porch!"  Right?  Well, I will tell that to my site visitors who feel as if the medical profession as a whole has let them down and offers them no effecient care or pain relief, much less a cure.  I’ll tell them that when I tell them that the very institutions they blame for a lack of effective treatment are their only resources now because they are the only ones who can afford to be listed in the search engines.

    I am sure they will appreciate the fact that the net is so "optimized", even if it means that they cannot find unbiased, reliable and truly helpful information to provide  them relief from  their "invisible" symptoms anymore because the only sites on the internet that CAN afford it will be the same businesses responsible for the fact that their disease has been denied, ignored, misdiagnosed, mistreated and NOT treated for 30 years!

    Search engines have their priorities and I have mine.  They want to increase profits for their company and mine is to help sick people.  (Just as years ago, WalMart had different priorities than "Main St." businesses did.  So, here is what I think the right thing for everyone who uses the internet should do – (and it is exactly what townspeople should have done to protect their communities when WalMart "optimized" discount shopping.)

    Support private and small business websites while they still exist and help them have a fighting chance.  If you are shopping on the internet, find an affiliate website for the product you plan to purchase and support that web marketer.  Purchase advertising on private websites that offer free information and benefit causes you support or make a tax deductable donation.   Offer SEO services pro-bono, if this is your field of expertise.     Ask your friends and family if anyone they know is an internet marketing affiliate who has a shopping site or page that you can use to shop with and support their efforts.  Learn about the Google AdSense program and how web affiliates and website owners use it to monetize their sites.   Educate yourself about how AdWords and PPC campaigns work and how much it costs the business who paid for being listed in the results for "whatever", so that his/her small or private business comes up in the search engine when you search for "whatever".   (As well as how much it cost them when you click on their link.)  Learn about Google "search boxes", how webmasters get them on their sites and who "gets paid" when they are used, compared to who gets paid when you search on that same search engines’ main/home page.   Basically, educate yourself about this "optimized" search process as a responsible internet user.

    Everyone seems to think that just because they pay for internet service that all information on the internet should be provided FREE.  This is not the case.  Any content you find on the internet is being paid for by someone.  (What you pay for is a service which enables you to access this information.)  Be a responsible internet surfer and support the little guy or soon the newly optimized internet will close down their websites just like WalMart  "optimized" discount shopping and closed down all the little shops on Main St. in your town.





    • hugh Robinson

      Tammy you have hit the nail on the head. I have in my own way – when I have the time – spread the word about Google’s crappy attitude on their own Groups. 

       My pet hate is that Google penalises websites for redirects etc but carry a huge amount of adware and viruses within their own cached site pages.

      Believe it or not they say they cannot control this but my arguement is that if they can see X site does not have their required content or does not conform then why can’t they keep their own servers free of viruses.

      If a ground swell of anti Microsoft can work then so will our efforts. It takes time but eventually Google will take notice.


  • Guest

    Yes, that’s true. I have seen another good content on

    They have explained the things in well defined manner (with images).


    AdWords is resembling organic search engine optimization more and more – so this should not come as a surprice. Better get the best optimized website quick to be prepared for the next hit from Google.

    Best regards, Christian

  • zafer

    Firmam?z granit mermer ve çimstone çe?itlerini ki?isel zevk ve be?enilere göre i?leyerek Bireysel tüketicilere ?n?aat firmalar?na Mutfak ve banyo dolap üreticilerine hizmet vermektedir.

  • privateye


    You said:it might be suggested that certain competing search engines would suit people as well as Google does for queries.


    I say – WHO is competing with google?  If google doesn’t own them yet; every SE has followed googles Model to the best of their abilities AND even generally serve up google results!!


    So  where – praytell – are these competing SE’s. 


    WHO ARE THEY?  I Wanna Know!!




  • charles

    As a Webmaster theres alot of so called companys out there that say they can get you ranked #1..well I myself I dont use any kind of paid ranking..only because I think its a wast of money..I have found that it takes time and hard work to stay on top..I dont use pay for clicks..Just keep up the hard work an it will pay off..good luck

  • Cover Bonanza

    Load times aren’t a problem for me, but I’m annoyed that yet another variable needs to be accounted for in dealing with Google.  For many years, Google’s best value add was the fact that business owners could manage their campaign themselves.  Soon it could be like other media which require third-part expertise.  A shame.

  • Search Engine Sam

    I think this is going abit to far, if you have server issues you and your customers pages will get marked down in the listing even though your page may be highly relevant and not spammy.

  • small business e commerce

    The previous comment by privateeye is on the money. There isn’t any serious competition to Google so things are pretty much a matter of dealing with the cards we’re dealt. Somewhere a real competitor to the big G has to appear. However, it looks like this is going to continue to be the course of things for a long time to come.

  • Commercial Lighting Guy

    Weed out the spam and irrevelent sites.  Lets keep the internet clean and neat!

  • Jill

    No matter how many links I go out and manually "make" to various websites who’s content is in keeping with my website – Google never shows these backlinks. Any suggestions on how a little fish in the big pond can grow, and not make Google mad at me?


  • dennis

    As a small-time webmaster and SEO I have little affection for Google. I do believe, however, their point about load times may have merit.

    As part of my link-building campaigns I have found myself frustrated by load times on numerous sites. Good links are important to me, and when page load times on my 6Mbit hybrid broadband are so long as to make me click to another site – well, ordinary surfers must be well and truly bothered!

    Not having studied this extensively the cause seems to be third-party plug-ins rather than page content. Watching the browser bar as it waits for yet another affiliate site to respond tells the tale; once clicbank, yahoo.this, etc. finally fire up the actual page content snaps into place immediately.

    Short load time is definitely a valid criteria in judging the user experience; Google is correct to say it is important for the advertiser too.

  • gossip news and articles

    Great article and news about google. Enjoy reading your articles

  • Prefabrik Ev

    The question is, if google is implementing page landing times into the ad quality performance, is page loading time now a big factor in regular organic search listings? will a page with a faster loading time now be higher in the rankings then a page with a slower loading time, assuming all other factors held constant?


    anyone gonna answer this question?

  • Internet Marketing Indonesia

    thanks for your article. Very help me. I will more like visit to webpronews site. :) Fantastic

  • Jens

    Sure google is changing things. Wouldn’t it be bad, if everything is standing still? I made some expensive experiences with google, but I think the way of quality is good, even if its not that cheap.

  • Guest

    Craigslist Traffic Bot is what I use to Auto Post.It’s 20 times faster than CL BOT PRO