Adwords ranking change affects everyone

Dec 10, 2005 at 2:38 PM
AdWords is the big bad wolf right now, huffing and puffing on advertisers’ houses. Is your house made of straw?

Right now, Google is the single most important web presence, with everything else either depending on or playing off of it.

Because of this, any little drop will make big ripples.

But a huge change has just been made. Google AdWords (paid placement/sponsored listings at Google) quietly changed the factors that it ranks ads by. For the very first time, it includes a factor not a part of the internal workings of an AdWords account. AdWords has started looking OUTWARD to improve their revenue.

The factors that are considered to determine the display of your ad will now include the "content and layout" of the landing page.

A page with better "content and layout" - meaning an optimized page with good marketing presentation – will now place better than a higher bidding person with a poorly optimized landing page.

What does this mean to an advertiser? It means that everything has just changed, in a very American, “free enterprise” kind of way.

Those who deserve better traffic because their pages sell better and work better – ie are optimized to sell – will now get a boost from Google.

This will improve the relevance of the AdWords results for the searcher and it will also push those with irrelevant or poorly optimized pages out of the artificial results.

Google must have noticed that searchers aren’t clicking on AdWords ads as much, and realized that it’s usually because there’s rarely a good site at the other end that was actually selling what was promised. If AdWords relevance increases and a percentage of searchers recognize it, AdWords revenue will increase exponentially.

Revenue from AdWords will increase by increasing the trust factor of the “sponsored results”. This will generate more business for the best of Google’s AdWords accounts, and for Google, regardless of whether they bid less. More clickers means more revenue over all, even at lower bids. More revenue means more internet commerce, and more internet commerce strengthens the entire web, increasing competition. Ultimately, this boosts the efficacy and longevity of the web as a whole. Free market strategy at its best.

It is a brilliant move, and one which should improve the longevity of the system, even if the short term dip occurs.

If Google is smart (which 100 PhDs should guarantee) it will gradually increase the weight applied to this factor until it is at least as important as every other factor considered. Anyone in this business should expect a massive shift in AdWords placement to occur very slowly, like a glacial melt.

There is only one set of people who will see negative results from this change — advertisers who have avoided making their site better in favor of pouring their advertising budget into an AdWords account. It’s the get-rich-quick people who will lose out most. The poor little piggies with straw houses will be left standing in the cold.

A lot of sites have used AdWords as a way to boost themselves up in rankings when their pages were not quality enough to rank in natural search results. In fact, large amounts of sites depend entirely and only on the revenue generated through their AdWords campaign, because they didn’t put in the effort to optimize their site.

Dropping even one rung will be devastating to these sites -- already paying top money, often their entire advertising budget, to rank well in the paid results at Google.

This means optimization has just become way more important to the little guy, who won’t be as able to give himself a false boost anymore.

Google should also expect to find more desperate people either paying more to rank better at Google AdWords or desperately trying to trick the search engine for better placement in the natural search results. Some of the get-rich-quick people are not going to get the point. Others will fix up their site, increasing the competition in SEO and therefore, in theory, increasing the importance of quality optimization.

OK. You’re thinking: “But, is this really a big deal?” Not if you’re the good little piggy who built your well-planned web site brick by brick.