Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Adwords Quality Landing Pages - The Myth Revealed

So we are all familiar with the new 'Quality Landing page Score' that Adwords introduced a few weeks ago and literally destroyed thousands of advertisers livelyhoods. They said they wanted your landing pages to be of high quality. I have to say hogwash, they want your budget to be HUGE.

If you know me you know I have been working on a new project in my free time this summer, FindMyGolfCourse.com. The site provides a searchable directory of every US golf course, plus I took the time to Mash up the course lcations on the Map too. I have yet to see any competitor try this approach, so I feel it is pretty unique. It uses Google Maps no less. I know the site is not the best looiing site I have ever produced, I was not concerned with that at this point, just what produces revenue and what does not. So keep that in mind when you check it out.

I was gradually progressing with the site and even got up to a $50/day profit mark the Thursday before Black Friday (the day they axed most of the valid advertisements). Some of the revenue came from Adsense, but more than half was coming from affiliate ads, all typically relevent to golfers.

My bids were OK for a few days, then the next Tuesday I got the boot and told to hit the highway. I have sinced asked for a hand evaluation by Google, which they responded with a basic you suck, go away. I then sent a response asking how my site could get the boot while some of the most non-relevent sites did not. I also told them it looked as if they only kept advertisers in the 7 figure a month range and got rid of all the small shops. They responded, no your site just sucks and we do not discrimiate by budget. The budget thing may be off base, but I do not think by much. Especially since several have chimed in saying their $1-400,000/month budgets were destroyed too.

So let's examine some of the Google Adwords results for 'Texas Golf Courses'. That's right go ahead and open it in a new tab (for those of you without IE 7 a new window will do). When I do it I get 6 ads returned. I get a few of these ads on just about every golf course keyword I used to be able to bid on, and I want to review each of these sites so we can see just what Google is looking for in a Quality Landing Page for our sites. That way we can go back rebuild our sucky sites and get back to running our businesses.

1 - Best-Prices.com : This is just a high-end MFA site. Does not really look like a true MFA, but it is. The links that are returned are sort of themed for Golf, but when you click on them, they are no more than a redirect through Adsense (man I wish I could do that). In fact many of the links I got (they rotate BTW) went to the other sites on this list.

2 - FindAGolfResort.com : Probably a legit Travel related web site. Has a few bits of info on some texas Golf resorts, an AdSense Skyscraper and a way to book travel reservations.

3 - Ivue.com : SPAM, MFA, SPAM, MFA, SPAM, MFA. A poorly done frame of a Golf Green, two AdSense skyscrappers and man what a hard day's work. Now to make millions. What a joke, this site is hosted with 4000+ other domains all prodicing the same layout with a different framed photo. It shows up on just about every Golf keyword I uused to advertise.

4 - CollegeOfGolf.com : See above, but now three skyscrappers and a few Golf links at the bottom of the page. I went to college for this?

5 - OnlyTexasGolf.com : Super-Charged, contracted AdSense publisher. They do not even need the AdSense javascript, they just put the money generating links on the page with nothing else to click on. Google has this guy on contract. This site is hosted along iwth nearly 40,000 variations. It shows up on just about every Golf keyword I used to advertise.

6 - GolfSimilators.com : Finally a real legit golf site and what, they get the bottom slot. Shame on you AdWords.

So what can we conclude to from this simple evaluation? Which by the way is just a small example of the many keywords I studied and they were not all golf rleated keywords. Just keywords I wanted to evaluate to see what it would take to compete in a niche with legit sites. I think we can determine that Google loves Spam sites. Yes, sites that offer no relavent content to the visitor, but just AdSense Ads. Maybe a topical photo, but that is not really nessecary.

So off we go, everyone stop creating relavent sites and start making SPAM, MFA sites as fast as possible so we can all pay our mortgages!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Grey Wolf & Google

Well it is time for some hard numbers. Grey Wolf has posted some real stats on how the Google Quality Landing Page score has affected his efforts.

The funny thing I am noticing is that there are many, many ads still left that seem to have a limited to useless relation to the keyword being targeted, as well as user experience as talked about by Grey Wolf.

For example http://www.poormonkey.com/ is the #3 position for 'Free Nokia Ringtones' as I write this and if you visit the landing page, it is no different that my ringtone site, HipTopPhones.com. Well other than the fact I have made a little more effort that this person and put an Adsense Ad on the page (only there to help you Google). Thankfully I do not live on ringtones.

Now this is another speculation on what is going on. Many Affiliate marketers own thousands of domains, which I suspect this to be one of those extra domains someone had. When you first put a site into the Adwords engine, you will get normal bid rates at least for a day or two! So I think the new thing people will start doing is buying domains for a few days and then dumping them to get around the outrageus pricingon Adwords. Just a thought....

Is Quality Landing Page for Adwords So Bad?

So I am not so sure this Quality Landing Page push by Google is such a bad thing after all. I mean it is going to force me to make my page confine to their restrictive guidelines for optimized pages for natual indexing. This means that my efforts for natural Search engine placement will just be stepped up. Thus this should save me lots of money on the long term and make the site more valuable too.

What I really think this means is that if Google keeps up their restrictive guidelines, then they will essentially go belly up. Their stock holders will not be happy with the (WAG) up to 50% reduction in quarterly revenues for the 3rd quarter this year.

I think it might be like having a nice relationship in college, you know the one. The one where you feel pretty good about the girl you are dating and feel the relationship is progressing at a nice rate and looking good for the future. Then suddenly she decides she wants to experience more in life and that does not include you. At first you are a little stunned and not really sure what you should do. After a while you begin to recover and even later you look back and go 'Thank God!' staying with her was not a good idea at all. I think we will appreciate Google deciding to give up their main revenue streams to help us get more money in the long run.

BTW, I really think this will totally open the door for MSN to move up the Search engine food chain.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

SEO while Paying the Search Engines

Over the past year I have really been pushing the envelope on Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click programs. Now I am not a hevyweight by any means. Just in the PPC arena there are players that drop $10,000-$50,000 a day. I am more like $10-50 a day! As far as natural or organic results, I just do not have the pages being pursued enough at this point to make dent in the world. I have been playing with my ProfessionalASPNET.com blog for my name. You can look up 'Chris Love' on all the major search engines and I am on the first page on each one. I was no where to be found before I started trying, so I am pretty happy with that. Other than Google, it keeps getting a little better in each search engine. Google is such a battle.

Google is trying so hard to eliminate SPAM from their search engine, not just the organic results, but the Adwords results too. What this has really done is to reduce the relavent results from a search and increase the amount of junk in the index. A good example was a search to find some information to help me clean the fule line in my Briggs & Stratton lawn mower yesterday. I am sure there are some relavent sites to help with this, but they were not to be found on Google. I would say about 75% of the results on the first two pages were just MFA scraper sites with nothing inteligable on the page, just Adsense ads.

Recently Google announced that landing pages for Adwords Ads needed to be relavent to keep the minimum bid low enough to make it worth advertising. I thought this might be good, until it slammed my FindMyGolfCourse.com ads. For example I have pages on the site for each city in the country to list the golf courses in the city. So let's take 'Dallas Golf Courses' as a keyword to target. That ad will send the visitor to the following page; http://FindMyGolfCourse.com/q/tx/dallas/golf-courses.aspx. Voila a list and a map of golf courses in the Dallas metro area. I can not think of a more targeted landing page than that. Well for some reason Google thinks so. 147 Golf Courses, the current weather in Dallas and a MAP generated by Google of the first 15 courses in the list. I had my minimum bid set to $0.05, and was actually paying $0.02 per click. Now the minimum bid is $0.4 for all 38 targeted keywords for the ad.

I think this is a good illustration of a massive mistake by Google with their only revenue stream. From what I can tell (WAG) they may have just cut about 60-70% of the annual revenues off. So my advice is to dump any Google Stock you have, unless they fix their algo for AdWords. The thing is, many others, including me on some other sites are seeing min bids jump from $0.05 to as much as $100 per click. What a joke!