Google’s Landing Page Rating Still A Mystery

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Earlier this month, Google revealed a planned series of changes to the way that AdWords evaluates landing page quality. In the first of a two-part series, the Inside AdWords team attempts to address the bevy of questions that have accompanied the announcement.

The team at the Inside AdWords blog tries, albeit rather poorly, to alleviate some of the concerns that webmasters are expressing concerning Google’s ever-mysterious “landing page quality” system.

Why did you make this change right before the holiday season?
As more and more holiday shoppers turn online to find gifts, we want to do everything we can to serve the most relevant and highest quality ads to our users. By making improvements to landing page quality, we’re not only able to help users (who are your potential customers) find what they want, but also help you maximize your leads because your ads will no longer have to compete with ads that are providing a poor user experience.

To give a bit more background, we had an internal debate about when to release these changes. We ultimately decided that since our focus is providing the most relevant advertising, it was best to launch these long-planned improvements as soon as we were ready to go, technically speaking.

Can a page that has a high CTR or conversion rate be considered a poor quality landing page?
In short, yes. Though the Quality Score incorporates the CTR of your keyword, when our system is specifically evaluating your landing page quality, it does not consider the CTR of your keywords or any conversion tracking or Google Analytics data in the account. Instead, it’s focused on the actual content and relevance of your landing page to a user who clicks on your ad and ends up on your site. It is well worth noting that not all ads with a high CTR provide a good experience for users.

For example, an ad may promote a new home for sale in San Francisco for the query ‘San Francisco homes’, but after clicking on the ad, the user is taken to a page that shows houses in Seattle. This is not a particularly good experience for the user – but the ad itself could still be highly relevant to the keyword, and thus is likely to have a high CTR.

Will using Website Optimizer improve my landing page quality?
Using Website Optimizer to experiment with your landing page does not have any impact on your Quality Score or your landing page quality. Website Optimizer evaluates your conversion rates to tell you which marketing messages are converting most often on your landing page, whereas the Quality Score doesn’t incorporate any conversion information. Please remember that once you’ve made a change to your landing page based on tests run with Website Optimizer, the Quality Score may change as with any other changes to your landing page.

We hope this helps to clear up some of your questions about this recent change. If you have additional questions, please let us know and we’ll answer as many as possible the next time we write about landing page quality.

Interestingly enough, Google still refuses to shed any light as to what constitutes a high-quality landing page. It would be nice to at least have a general amount of insight as to the criteria that the company utilizes in its evaluation of landing pages.

Why? Because the financial bottom line is at stake, that’s why. Google is playing with fire by instituting a system that has a direct impact on the minimum bid for keywords, while conveniently keeping the details of the scheme a closely guarded secret.

Webmasters don’t need to see the actual algorithm, but if Google is going to starting jacking the price up for keywords that lead to poor quality landing pages, the company should at least have the common decency to share a little more information about how quality rating is calculated.

Inquiries to the Inside AdWords team concerning landing page quality have thus far gone unanswered.

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Joe is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest ebusiness news.

Google’s Landing Page Rating Still A Mystery
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