08/03/07
PPC – Quality Before Cost

searchYahoo has finally joined Google and MSN in the way they list their paid results in their search engines.

When Pay Per Click (PPC) ad’s were first introduced in the search engines, the guys who were at the top of the listings were the ones who paid most for a click. This restricted people in being able to set up PPC Campaigns as those with the most money would always be on top, making it difficult for companies with smaller budgets.

This caused some companies to expliot the system and also introduced Click Fraud. Companies would employ individual’s to go around and click on their competitors ad’s to use up their daily budget giving others a chance to rank in a prominent position in the sponsored listings.

Since then, Google and MSN have both changed how they rank sponsored listings, it is no longer about who bids the most to get to the top of the sponsored listings. Major search engines want to keep their results relevant to the end user, if the highest bidders send users to useless sites, then it is unlikely a user will continue to click on those ads, therefore, it was clear something needed to change.

There are a variety of factors that search engines look for to produce a “Quality Score” which determines where PPC Ads rank in the sponsored listings. Not all factors taken into account are known, however they do include:

Click through rate (Popularity of the Ad)
Relevance of the Ad copy
Landing page relevance/quality (The page the vistor lands on from clicking on the sponsored Ad)
Bid Amount

Neil McCarthy, client development director of search agency Tamar, says he’s seen little change since Google introduced landing-page quality:

Money and click-through rates are far and away the most important factors, how much you’re bidding and your popularity still come top in search. Landing page is factored in, but its really those two that count.

It is interesting to see that by changing the way websites rank in the sponsored listings are coming closer to search engine optimisation which is to do with how you optimise a page for the organic listings. Although PPC campaigns do not affect your organic listings, they way search engines are now ranking PPC Ad’s are becoming similar to how an SEO will optmise a webpage. This is mainly due to PPC Ad copy and Landing page quality which both make up a part of the overall Quality Score.

If you are running Pay Per Click Campaigns for “Brown Bears” then you would have that phrase in the title of your Ad as well as in the copy. The page that people are directed to once the Ad has been clicked on, would also need to be optimised for that phrase. If this is the case, then the Landing page quality will be good, and this should have a positive affect your position in the sponsored listings.

So it is no longer those with the larger budgets that dominate the PPC listings, but more those who learn how to apply those factors to their Campaign ads as well as taking into account the relevance of there pages.