Google will change its quality score algorithm to place more weight on landing page quality in addition to ad/keyword relevancy and CTR. With these changes, advertisers with well optimized sites that follow search best practices will likely benefit from the increase in quality score.
Last week, Google announced that it would be tweaking its quality score algorithm to provide more weight to a site’s landing page quality. The decision follows successful trial results in Brazil, Spain, Portugal, and Spanish-speaking Latin America, which were completed in August. We’ll dig into exactly what this may mean for your campaign’s performance moving forward.
This new algorithm will provide an increase in landing page quality, as it is weighted with the other major factors such as keyword/ad relevancy and click through rate in determining quality score. This change was prompted by Google when it noticed that ads winning the auctions did not necessarily own top quality sites.
But didn’t Google already account for landing page quality score? Correct! However, up until now, we have only seen landing page relevancy considered as a negative factor, meaning landing pages with exceptionally poor relevancy would be rejected, while those with high relevancy would be minimally impacted, if at all.
What This Means for Marketers
The changes will likely take place in the US within the following weeks, so advertisers should expect keyword quality score to be affected during the initial rollout. That said, Google claims this change should normalize within a few weeks, and advertisers should not see any significant shifts in performance.
Ads with landing pages that Google finds most relevant to the query will continue to rank high, if not higher, than they do today, so this news should not cause panic for campaigns already following best practices. If anything, the update will now provide an additional way to increase positioning at more effective CPC’s, improving campaign cost efficiencies simply by following best practices.
Conversely, advertisers with poor quality landing pages will see its negative effect on their campaign performance. Google will crawl landing pages associated with an ad similar to how a site is crawled for organic rankings, which places higher emphasis on your site page readability and overall site quality.
In theory, the update should only further bridge the gap between site development and paid search. It is our recommendation that search be seen as one cohesive unit between the disciplines, and for advertisers to bridge the connections between their SEM and SEO efforts.
In addition to the more widely seen effects of desktop landing pages, more pressure will be added to advertisers with mobile campaigns. Mobile ad serving and organic ranking sophistication will soon be up to speed with that of desktops. As brands begin to level the playing field with optimized mobile experiences, this update will have a great impact in what is soon to be a highly competitive area for ad space. Given the small share of SERP space on a user’s mobile device, quality score will play a key role in ad rank and performance.
Algorithmic features such as quality score are vital components to the evolution of search. Engines will continually seek to provide the best user experience, forcing advertisers to perfect their campaigns. While the slight tweak in algorithm makeup may not be the monumental shift we’ll remember at the close of 2011, it is nonetheless a global search enhancement that will yield a level of sophistication amongst advertisers and ease amongst users.
Keep an eye out for variations in ad position and keyword quality score over the next few weeks. Advertisers should continue to push the impact of crawlable SEO and its significance in paid results while maintaining best practices in landing page deep-linking. In the end, campaigns that follow standard best practices from a paid and organic point of view should only see a positive impact from the update.