Thinking About the Adwords Quality Score, User Data, and Organic Rankings

It’s dark, it’s late, I’m on my second red bull and I’m looking at some stats. I’m seeing things, funny things, interesting things, things that should be thought about, take a look into my thinking if you are curious …

When I spoke with Matt in Vegas I unashamedly admitted that I don’t want Google to have all of that user data, because I think they will “use it against me” to make things harder for me (not personally just sites in general). I know I’m in the minority thinking that Google is currently using user data in any meaningful way, and in true Matt Cutts form he neither confirmed or denied my suspicions, but instead chastised me for confusing causation with correlation (see I was paying attention). However for the sake of my argument let’s just entertain the possibility that Google is gathering user data and could possibly be using it in the algorithm.

If I were profiling or trying to establish a fingerprint for “thin affiliates” one factor I might use is “time on site” or “sliperyness” which would be opposite of “stickyness”. The goal of an affiliate is to rank a page for a series of terms, have the customer come to the page follow the information scent click to the merchant and complete the transaction giving you the commission. The more people do this the better and more “slippery” your site is. From Google’s perspective they want to bypass the middle man and bring you directly to the merchant, so slippery sites are might be an indication of poor quality site.

Let’s say you are doing PPC arbitrage for a CPA program. Using a landing page on your site the more slippery you are the better. The more slippery you are the more conversions and profits you will make. However if Google thinks you are “too slippery” you might get flagged a poor quality and get price jacked. In my Profits Murdered By Google Adwords post I detailed a site I was using for PPC that I eventually had to stop advertising for since it became too expensive. However a some interesting things happened after I stopped sending PPC traffic to the site. Overall the site became less slippery, since the really slippery users were no longer visiting. So the average user to the site was spending more time on the site and having more page views. Starting in September the number of visitors started to uptick. This uptick became a little steeper in October and is holding it’s upward motion through November.

So did this slippery user data that was coming from the PPC pages cause a negative indicator that was hurting the organic rankings? Hard to say looking at data from only one site. However I do have two other sites which show similar but much less pronounced trends that are similar to this site. I wasn’t doing much else to the site, just posting once a week to the blog, and not doing any active link hunting or viral marketing, so at the very least it’s an interesting coincidence that I’ll be watching.

So for anyone else who got hit hard by the quality score price jacking, did you see an increase in organic traffic?

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