For those marketers still holding out on a relevant landing page strategy, here is further proof that landing pages are important components of a best practice paid search campaign. Today Google announced that they are globally rolling out quality score changes that they have been testing in South America and parts of Europe. The changes will further take into account an ad’s destination, placing importance on landing pages.
Google is predictably vague about the potential impact of the change on advertisers’ campaigns. On the AdWords blog they noted that the change will increase “the weight given to relevance and landing page quality in determining Quality Score and how ads are ranked on Google.”
Then Google dropped the real bomb: “as the changes roll out, some campaigns will see variation in keyword Quality Scores and typical ad position. Within a couple weeks, things should stabilize and we expect most campaigns will not see a significant change in overall performance.”
So, the impact of this remains to be seen. What’s significant is that this move officially places more importance on the post-click user experience. Ad performance and the relevance of the ad itself to the search query have always been the key drivers of quality score. While Google previously looked at landing pages as a part of the quality score calculation, as Pamela Parker at Search Engine Land points out, traditionally, this had been only a negative signal.
Thus, a bad landing page could hurt your quality score, but a really good one has never really been able to help. Now, it seems, highly relevant landing pages will be a boon to your quality score; we just don’t know how much yet.
This move makes perfect sense. Ads that are more likely to be clicked should be served higher, ultimately increasing the overall number of paid clicks and increasing revenue for Google. However, Google now seems to further acknowledge that the post-click experience of users who click on paid ads is equally important. Not only should it not be awful (as they had previously affirmed through the negative signal), it really ought to be good. If users have a good experience clicking on AdWords ads, they’re naturally more likely to do so in the future.
For search marketers, the benefits are similar. Searchers who are delivered a landing page that very quickly answers the question that they just posed to the search engine are far more likely to convert into customers. This change makes it so that approach will also help your quality score, lowering cost per click and potentially increasing yield and ROI.
Google has become who they are by giving searchers what they’re looking for better than anyone else. This move is just one more reason for search marketers to do the same.
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