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Quality Change Has Google Clients Grumbling

By: David Utter

Google recently decided to increase the minimum bids for keywords for AdWords clients whose landing pages do not provide a quality experience, in Google's opinion.

Quality Change Has Google Clients GrumblingNow that Google (GOOG) has increased the keyword cost for AdWords clients with low quality landing pages, their new policy may be catching more than sites that play the click arbitrage game.

On our message board at WebProWorld, a few of our visitors have expressed their views on the change. Some have welcomed it, as one commenter wrote:

In tracking ROI I often click back to find where customers are coming from. I always find these only pages with no content. I have yet to find any sales come from these pages, only lost revenue from clicks.

Others see it as a money grab by Google, which makes $6 billion in revenue from online advertising:

Google can, and could have all along, weeded out the sites, and dumped them. They haven't because they can profit from it - and that's exactly what they'll do. They publicize the excuse (riff raff and poor quality landing pages), then raise the bids.

The change has already had an impact on one customer, who also suggested a potential outcome of the new policy:

In our particular case, the keyword I cite with a 9000% increase in 7 hours, is still being bid eBay, and 4 other major shopping sites. Google is a business. At $6 Billion in ad revenue last year, and a forecast growth of 30 - 40% this year, that's obvious. As any business, their focus is on those companies who have multi-million dollar accounts to spend with them.

I wouldn't be surprised to see articles appear soon (if they already haven't) charging Google with "reserving" those phrases for only large, multi-million dollar advertisers, by increasing the minimum bids to levels too costly for small advertisers.

As for "poor user experience", in our case, nothing could be further from the truth. Our landing page URL was a page in our site for the item - the URL contained the phrase - and the only items on that page were a selection of that item.

Google's change does look more like a way to increase revenue than a focused attack on sites that use a low-cost keyword ad as a gateway to a page full of more valuable advertising. As it has been suggested, since Google can detect sites that run afoul of its quality guidelines, it should be able to boot those abusers out of the AdWords program.


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