I’ll admit that when I first saw the new adwords quality score I thought they were crazy, they’ll have to roll this thing back, and was not alone in this belief. However after poking ad proding the beast a little I say it’s here to stay.
Many people think this is a new initiative so some adjustments are sure to follow. However while I don’t discount tweaking I don’t think this is something new. What this really is is full scale rollout of Adwords Price Increases we saw earlier this year. My current working theory is they tested this new “quality” algo on new campaigns. This gave them a smaller subset to work with, adjust and make sure they are “trapping” the right set of sites that fit the “low quality” profile. With three months of testing they applied the new pricing algo to every ad not just the new ones.
To assume that they didn’t do any modeling and would have a reasonably accurate idea of how many people would be affected is not only foolish but extremly niave. While I do think that they now have a way to raise prices across the board, I don’t think that was the primary goal. I honestly believe they are looking to get rid of as many affilaite players who aren’t “adding value” along the way. From Google’s perspective putting up a landing page for Blue Widget model 123 that is almost identical to 6 other affilaite landing pages for blue widget model 123 is not adding value, even if your ad is somehow “more compeling” and gets double digit click throughs. Affiliates however want to make the most money with the least amount of time and effort, so creating a dupe landing page with a more compelling ad is the way to get there (see how much easier things are when we’re honest). In reality this is just an escalation of the single URL inititive from 2005. One of the big differences is Shak tipped us off to that one a good 6 months before it happened so we had time to put a plan into action.
This may not have been nice, and it may have shaken up some people’s business models (including mine) , but it wasn’t personal it was just business. If you were ducking traditional SEO and taking up safe harbor in the easier world of SEM, things just got tougher, a lot tougher. SEM is now more like SEO and much more difficult for the less experienced players. Don’t keep pushing the same buttons and expecting things to work differently, try pushing some new ones in ways that are “wrong” and see what happens … the low prices are still out there …