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Google's Adwords Program

Google's sponsored search results are its main source of revenue. These are the text ads next to search results (also known as sponsored links) and are known as Adwords.

Google, Microsoft and Yahoo now assess and rank sponsored listings by measuring the quality and relevancy of pages as well as bid amount. Yes, a phone # means that the CTR may go down. However the price an Adwords advertiser pays per click is affected by the CTR. A low CTR ad has to bid more to rank highly as Adwords is not entirely about the winning bid, unlike Yahoo Sponsored Search used to be.

In 2002, Google began pricing their Adwords results using a formula, not just an auction. Prior to this time, Google and Overture (now Yahoo Search Marketing) placed paid listings on the page based on the bid amount.

Google's new formula included how often users clicked on the ads. The formula was: ranking equals bid amount multiplied by CTR. By improving ad relevancy, advertisers were able to rise higher on the page without necessarily increasing their bids. A side effect was that this formula helped Google maximize its revenues from the auction. It also increased user satisfaction with the ad listings. What Google lost on price, they made up on volume.

Google also insists that keywords in your AdWords account had to maintain an historical click-through rate of at least 0.5%, or they'd be disabled.

Keyword Quality Scores

In August, 2005 (after earlier undisclosed experiments), Google switched gears again. They dropped the old ad ranking formula in favor of (undisclosed) "quality scores" assigned to each keyword in your account. Although they assured us that this was predominantly based on Max Bid and click-through rate as before, other factors, like "keyword relevancy" and "other relevancy factors" (huh?) were incorporated.

The quality score assigned to your keyword, relative to those of other contending advertisers in the auction for a given search query, determines where your ad shows up on the page, as before. Just as important, a low quality score will make it more difficult to keep your keyword active in the system. Google assigns high minimum bids to keywords with low quality scores. A normal minimum bid is about $.05. But low quality scores will generate minimum bids of .30, $1.00, $5.00, you name it. You can get out of the doghouse, but it'll cost you.

Landing Page and Site Quality

In December 2005 and thereafter, Google began refining a controversial new component of the formula: the assessment of landing page and site quality. Some advertisers – those who have been running misleading campaigns that search engine users dislike -- have been punished disproportionately, and have complained of a "Google Slap."

Advertisers needn't obsess about "optimizing" landing pages to the nth degree as a means of improving their ad rankings. Google's landing page quality initiative is mostly intended to target "no- no's" -- pages and sites which offer users a particularly poor experience, and businesses that make deceptive offers and offer insufficient disclosure of business information. Certain classes of complaint are common: pop-ups and misleading navigation; "email address squeeze page" offers that promise much but disclose little to the consumer; and "arbitrage plays" that take consumers from a Google AdWords sponsored link to a page dominated by more sponsored links, rather than directly to an offer or content.

If you haven't checked it out, go into your Adwords, enter your AdGroups section, and select the "Keywords" tab. (The default has "Quality Score" column turned off) You'll see a small link pop up that
says "Customize Columns" and go to the drop down menu and select "Show Quality Score".
Voila! You should now see for each keyword your quality score that is either "Great", "OK", or "Poor".

Google uses a combination of human and automated means of catching offensive sites and pages. Advertisers must make their landing pages accessible to Google's AdsBot crawler, or face low quality scores.

Most advertisers haven't been unduly affected by the so-called Google Slap. But as Yahoo also intends to institute a Quality Index into its own ad ranking methods as part of its new Panama platform, one thing is clear: quality-based bidding is here to stay. Advertisers will need to focus a little more on a few core skills: improving the relevancy of their ads; adding negative keywords to campaigns including broad matches in order to increase click-through rates; and updating their sites and landing pages to be relevant and free of user experience no-no's. In cases where you're doing everything right and you seem to be a victim of "false positives" (getting caught in the net intended to catch less scrupulous advertisers), it might make sense to contact your customer service representative for editorial advice or help.

More broadly, advertisers should understand the general principles of targeting, and the consumer's wish to follow the "scent" of relevant offers from the query stage right through to purchase. The more your campaign feels like it's bothering people, the search engines will reason, the more you ought to pay for the privilege.

Useful Resources:

* Google's Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines:

* Bryan Eisenberg, et al., Waiting for Your Cat to Bark (Nelson
  Business, 2006), ISBN 0785218971

See for information about inserting the search term into your adword headline.

Selecting Keywords

Remember to buy your competitors URL as a keyword. See the article on Long Tail Search Terms

Some PPC management companies charge per key phrase.

From, and also recommended by

Keith Baxter

who is a very upfront marketer who even admits to black hat business, e.g. cloaking is ok if the visitor gets what they want. - his newsletter is $15 a quarter.

Set up a Republican web site. Conservative middle aged men are great buyers! Expired domains and mycustomerdirect are a good way to get cheap low quality traffic, if that converts then try higher quality traffic.

Phantom Master is harder than Cloaking Master but more effective, however requires installation on each domain. Cloaking Master is higher priced and can control more domains from a central location. Cloaking Master Lite has less domains. - they hire someone in India to work full time on building your web traffic. Costs about $695 a month.

As of today, and for just $100 you can get of ‘MuVar‘ — a brand new piece of multi-variate testing software that automagically makes your web pages sell more. I’ll quickly explain how it does that below, but let me first explain…


READ THIS: it’s important if you spend money on web sites for your business.

Did you read the issue in The Ultimate Web Sales Strategy about how scientifically “split-testing” landing pages can increase your sales and sales-lead generation?

Well, MULTI-VARIATE TESTING takes it even further… MUCH further actually.

Instead of just split-testing two headlines against each other, you can test literally hundreds or thousands of combinations of web page ‘variations’ very quickly and easily.

And best of all, it’s all done automatically for you once you’ve got it set up and running. Because once people start responding to your web pages, the clever software starts displaying the winning web page variation more and more frequently.

Chris McNeeney

Google Catch or direct linking is where you buy Adwords and link directly to an affiliate company, e.g. a search on a movie title goes to the page for that movie on Amazon.

A variation is to put a squeeze page in before sending them to the link. This way you build a list, as well as make a sale.

See our article on Click Fraud

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