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Old 07-12-2006   #1
zic
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Unhappy 488 keyword(s) are currently inactive for search - !!?!?

Hi all,

So, I'm sure a lot of you have seen this before, but it's my first flaming...

I've been running a very successful AdWords campaign - best CTR around 5-10%, average around 2.85%. Because I spent ages coming up with all sorts of keywords for the products I sell (I run a comparison site for electronic products), I've been getting a decent number of clicks (around 500-750 clicks a day) with a max CPC of only 7p.

Everyone was happy, Google were getting paid, I scraped just enough ROI to make it all worthwhile, that was until this morning, when traffic just STOPPED.

On closer inspection, it appears that without even an e-mail, Google have gutted the campaign, disabling 488 keywords, and imposed a ransom of 55p-2.50 per click to get them reactivated!!!

It's just pure madness! Why oh why do they have to meddle, why can't they just let the market decide! 55p-2.50 is just insane. I could just about soak up a 3p hike, but even at 15p I'm out of business.

So, I've sent Google an e-mail, pleading them to not be evil, but I doubt they'll give in.

Has anyone else had similar experiences? Did you have any luck talking Google down?

Rob
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Old 07-12-2006   #2
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How many competitors are there in the PPC space?

Go in to the account and check to see if there was a serious spike in impressions versus clicks.

You may have been impacted by Impression Fraud.
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Old 07-12-2006   #3
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take a look here and you may also get an idea of what could be happening...http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/004109.html

sounds like your landing pages may be able to use some tuning?

Last edited by Chris Boggs : 07-12-2006 at 02:46 PM.
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Old 07-12-2006   #4
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I can take a look - which would be the best report to get that info?

Across the board, there isn't that much competition, yet. I deliberately came up with a load of permumations of keywords a searcher might enter (by mixing up product model codes and names, based on my insight into their usage). The lack of competition is of course the reason I could break into the market at only 7p per click.

If other people had decided to do the same thing, that would have naturally and gradually driven up click prices - fair enough, that's competition for you.

But that's not what we're seeing here. Google has simply stepped in and said "hang on a sec, I see what you're doing here, hmm... I'm sure we can make more money out of this guy, let's crank the min CPC up 28x and see what happens".

It's wrong, and if Google wasn't running a virtual monopoly on PPC, they couldn't get away with it.
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Old 07-12-2006   #5
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Thanks Chris.

OK, so it looks like quality score is determined by some "artificially intelligent" script hitting my site.

How stupid! As far as I'm concerned, if the CTR of my ads is good (which it is) and the CTR from my site to merchant sites is good (which it is), and the conversion rate at the merchant sites is good (which it is), then I've got myself a quality site - I'm getting what I want, as are my visitors!

Besides, they're not saying, "your site sucks, fix it and you can have traffic", they're saying "your site sucks, you could fix it... buhhhht, why not just pay us more instead" - talk about corrupt.
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Old 07-13-2006   #6
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Wink Don't Hate the Game, Hate the Player with the Better-Looking Site

Zic I have to disagree with you on this one. With the plethora of websites out there today that simply throw images and calls-to-action at you, I think it's good that Google is trying to enforce quality. The system for the most part weeds out cookie-cutter type sites and puts the omen on the advertiser to actually spend time creating a unique and somewhat interesting landing page.

In my opinion, not having a charismatic landing page deserves a "tax;" especially since in many cases the page may make a bad impression on the visitor and lead to very poor conversions, or simply lead to a click on another ad (please do not take this as an attack on your site as I have not even seen it).

Now I understand the argument that a bad page will simply cause a "Back Button" click and a visit to another sponsored site, which means more money for Google. Yet I also see that eventually someone may be less likely to click on the sponsored links due to repeated navigation to low quality sites.

The way it seems to work is that you are going to either have to spend the money on design in order to improve your user experience, or spend the money paying for the privilege to rank among the higher quality pages.
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Old 07-13-2006   #7
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It was inevitable, as they have the technology, and it makes sense, because it only encourages a better user experience. It does suck for the advertiser that just gets a price hike with no reasoning or explanation other than "work on your landing page." It also is a clever way for Google to just up some bid rates on tail terms without catching too much slack.
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Old 07-13-2006   #8
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Chris, in my view, if a site like mine fulfils it's purpose, i.e. the customer finds what they want (a cheap price) and clicks through, then it is of good "quality".

If the site were of low quality, customers wouldn't click through, I wouldn't get paid, and I wouldn't have any money for PPC, thus I'd get weeded out naturally.

If Google simply left the market to dictate the correct price, there would only be a margin for me if I add value. In this instance, sure, I may not be the only price comparison site out there, but I invest a lot of time in my keyword strategy, so as to ensure I get closely targetted prices in front of as many searchers as possible.

I know for a fact, that some of my keywods have no competition whatsoever. So, in taking me out of the game, Google is actually hurting the user experience, as when the user searches for such a keyword, they're going to get no results!

Besides, to reiterate, Google are not enforcing that I increase the quality of my site to stay in the "game". They're also giving me the option of bribing them an extra 50p-2.80 per click to overlook the issue!

Do you not agree that's just plain corrupt?!

If they were so hell bent on enforcing quality, they wouldn't even give you the opportunity to buy yourself out of the problem. They'd just tell you point blank - "improve your site, or you'll get no more traffic".
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Old 07-13-2006   #9
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Sonic - I realise the alternative to paying Google's ransom is to "increase the quality of my landing page", but frankly, what the heck do they know about my landing page?! How can some robot, or even a person over at Google possibly assess the quality of a landing page objectively, as in through the eyes of all the different types of searchers out there.

They don't have access to my conversion reporting, so how could they possibly know how effective the landing page is?

What, so they just look at it and decide "urm, yeah don't like it, it sucks", or "it doesn't contain enough 'relevant' keywords" - I prefer to keep my landing pages clean and functional, the consumer doesn't always need/want to wade through a load of keyword rich filler.
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Old 07-13-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Boggs
In my opinion, not having a charismatic landing page deserves a "tax;"....
Suppose my landing page offered a terrific user *service*, so was bare and sparse by design. You know, like google.com for example. What then? I can't us AdWords as an advertising channel?

As web services grow we're going to see lots more of these "service pages", and probably using AJAX to boot. Where will this huge group of advertisers go? The concept that a landing page must be packed with "valuable content" in order to be "useful" is not a scalable concept as we move forward to the next generation of the web. And to the next generation of advertisers ;-)
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Old 07-13-2006   #11
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Zic- I agree with you, but it was only a matter of time before they started analyzing landing pages was my point. I agree they are hijacking bid prices, because they realize you are not going to stop advertising on AdWords as long as your CPA is acceptable. They are using end user experience to increase their revenue, just like they always do.
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Old 07-13-2006   #12
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Bang on integramed, it's plain insulting they think we're naive enough to swallow this.

I've moved all the "offending" keywords to Overture. They may not have the gadgets or depth of traffic Google does, but in my experience they play a fairer game.

With a bit of luck, if enough people do the same, Google will have to wake up and smell the java - they are not invincible!
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Old 07-13-2006   #13
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Sonic, I really think they're overstepped the line this time, and it may well cost them dearly in the long run.

It used to be relatively simple, and clever. They *know* how well you're ads are performing in isolation from your landing page, as they track the CTR. Thus, it made a lot of sense to reward better performing adverts on that basis, as they were obviously relevant and enticing to the searcher, and per search, they made Google the most money.

The responsibility was with us, where it should be, to ensure a quality experience on our end. If the experience wasn't there, the user would leave, and we'd have to up our game or die.
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Old 07-13-2006   #14
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It could hurt them in the long run, but having end users wading through poor results to find what they want will also hurt them in the long run. One could have a pathetic site, but write compelling ad copy acheiving a great CTR. An argument to that is that the company will not be around very long if they do not convert the customers with their poor site.

I haven't had personal experience in bid price hiking, except the normal amounts, so I don't know how unfairly or widespread its happening with the landing page analysis. I do, however, think they are pissing off a lot of advertisers, who by the way account for something like 98% of their revenue.
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Old 07-13-2006   #15
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Ultimately the system would self correct itself, by weeding out the advertisers with poor landing pages, but this is Googles way of speeding up the process.
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Old 07-13-2006   #16
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I don't think we can stress that point enough, in the PPC game, if you don't have a quality site, you simply can't survive. Just as, if you run a shop and sell crummy products, sooner or later you can't afford the rent and atrophy. This is the natural order of things.

If they genuinely believe their own twaddle, Google are foolish to think that they can single-handedly decide if a site is of "good quality".

Only the market can decide this, by naturally integrating the attitudes and experiences of all consumers who actually use the site as it is intended.
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Old 07-13-2006   #17
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The only way it can be sped up, is by simplifying it, thus reducing it's accuracy.

The result - quality advertisers get persecuted to further fill Google's pockets, all under the false pretense of upholding the "quality" of the user experience.
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Old 07-13-2006   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zic
C

Besides, to reiterate, Google are not enforcing that I increase the quality of my site to stay in the "game". They're also giving me the option of bribing them an extra 50p-2.80 per click to overlook the issue!

Do you not agree that's just plain corrupt?!
That's not corrupt. That's smart. Google know that they can plead and beg advertisers all they want "Oh pleeeeeeeeease make sure your keywords are relevant, pleeeeease have useful unique site content that users will like. But advertisers wouldn't listen to that and it would be like p*ssing against the wind.

Like anybody with a bit of sense, Google realised that if they want to promote change, and influence the calibre and quality of advertisers in their programme, they've have to hit where it hurt - in the wallet. That's why they introduced the whole Quality Based Bidding system nearly a year ago, and landing page quality is a part of that which they've been warning us about since last christmas, when they posted they site quality guidelines.

The hike in bids isn't a bribe for them to overlook the issue - its

1) their attempt to force bad advertisers out of the market, which is fair enough, because I think you're wrong in saying if left on its own the market can decide by itself. As it is, AdWords is full of little crap sites with no content apart from other AdWords ads and a paragraph packed with keywords. Despite your predictions, thousands of these sites continue to hang in there

2) saying "Ok, we think this keyword / site could be better, so if you improve it and meet our criteria, the bids will be lowered"

Sure, its hurting a lot of advertisers, and no doubt of course that there is some collateral with some good sites caught in the net by mistake, but overall I think it can only benefit the long term sustainability of PPC
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Old 07-13-2006   #19
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If Google truly believed in their measure of "quality", they should give an offending advertiser ONE option - improve quality, or receive no further traffic.

This strategy would enforce their policy perfectly.

Why then, do they also give advertisers the option to pay more to continue receiving traffic, rather than improving quality?

On this basis, even a site that rates 0/10 on Google's quality scale can get traffic if they're willing to pay the price.

How is that not corrupt?
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Old 07-13-2006   #20
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God or Evil?

I understand each side of the story but the only thing is what happen to good site/landing pages that get caugh up in the middle of this thing?

I think we all understand it's necessary to create a better user experience but technology can't replace common sense. Some good quality site and landing pages are getting crashed by Adwords.

We got caugh in the middle. We contact Adwords staff and all they can say is generalities. It looks like they don't even look at our actual pages. We follow their guidelines religiously and we get wacked.

Trying to play God gets you on the evil side.

All we'd ask is some common sense, don't always trust an algorithm, put people in front of screen when an account bring you $15k a month. It's call respect.
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