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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Google landing page quality update underscores need for quality content...

Google is adjusting its landing page quality guidelines and that may have an impact on some webmasters' needs for content.

The theory is simple. Google is raising the quality bar in order to shove subpar sites out of the Adwords mix.

Inside Adwords quotes Andrew C. from Google:

"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, if you are using PPC as a means of driving traffic and you want to keep bid prices low, and visitor totals high, concentrate on providing a good user experience at your landing page.

That sounds simple enough, but in order to take that defensive action you need to know what constitutes a good user experience in the eyes of Google. Google will freely admit that there is no "one size fits all" definition of a quality site, but they do point webmasters in the direction of "Google AdWords Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines."

What's the first highlighted item on that to-do list?

Provide relevant and substantial content.

Google explains:

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)."

This focus on LPQ is primarily directed at those who are working with Adwords/Adsense arbitrage plans and are operating "Made for Adsense" sites. LPQ adjustments, according the the G-people, shouldn't adversely affect most Adwords advertisers.

However, the full impact of the adjustment isn't yet known and there is some risk to even more "legitimate" webmasters whose sites run afoul of the Google guidelines, I suppose.

I write content and the most self-serving thing in the world that I can say about this adjustment is that it should compel every Adwords advertiser to run (not walk) to a quality content provider to make sure their landing page material is GOLDEN.

As much as I'd like to stuff the Content Done Better coffers, I don't think we can yet reasonably assume that every landing page that lacks Booker Prize-worthy material is doomed to pay more for clicks.

We can, however, assume that you should make efforts to insure your landing pages are consistent with the suggested guidelines if you have even the slightest inkling that you might be at risk. With the holiday earnings season coming up, that might be critical for some webmasters.

Besides, there is a great deal of upside in having a good landing page. Repeat visitation, higher conversions, etc. Thus, even if you don't NEED to make a change in order stay cool with Google, making improvements to your landing page can still have advantages in addition to its "LPQ algorithm" insurance function.