Google Battling for the Pay Per Click Long Tail

The number of keywords the average online shop bids on has risen sharply over the last few years; bidding on more than 30,000 keywords is common place.

long tail

When your popular keywords are too expensive, go for a large number of low popularity keywords, a standard pay per click strategy known as the long tail, shown in figure.

The cumulative traffic from low popularity keywords amounts to a lot of value for money clickthroughs, and the pay per click campaigns generally achieve high return on investment.

Many pay per click management programs are available manage this long tail of keywords. The SearchWorks Bidbuddy is one popular example. But the pay per click long tail suffers from spammers exploiting the low cost traffic, driving up CPC prices for legitimate businesses.

In addition to online shops and merchants, the keyword long tail has also attracted SPAM artists; the clickthrough arbitrage. The scheme is buy low priced keyword traffic on Adwords, and take the visitor to an Adsense populated landing page with an expensive keyword context. The SPAM site makes a margin from the difference in clickthrough price, at the expense of advertisers and visitors.

A recent move by Google has been to increase the minimum price for all keywords, in order to discourage clickthrough arbitrage merchants.

Google has just announced on its Inside AdWords blog that a new algorithm will start penalizing Adsense SPAM sites. Google is increasing the to Adwords landing page quality requirements: Inside AdWords: Landing page quality update. SPAM sites will be penalized with a high minimum CPC in Adwords.

As you may recall, we began incorporating advertiser landing page quality into the Quality Score back in December 2005. Following that change, advertisers who are not providing useful landing pages to our users will have lower Quality Scores that in turn result in higher minimum bid requirements for their keywords. We realize that some minimum bids may be too high to be cost-effective — indeed, these high minimum bids are our way of motivating advertisers to either improve their landing pages or to simply stop using AdWords for those pages, while still giving some control over which keywords to advertise on. Although it is counter-intuitive to some who hear it, we’d rather show one less ad than to show an ad which leads to a poor user experience — since long-term user trust in AdWords is of overarching importance.

From time-to-time, we improve our algorithms for evaluating landing page quality (often based on feedback from our end-users), and next week we’re launching another such improvement. Thus, over the coming days a small number of advertisers who are providing a low quality user experience on their landing pages will see increases in their minimum bids. It is important to note, however, that the vast majority of advertisers will not be affected at all by this change, as they link to quality landing pages.

If you do see an increase in minimum bids and you feel that your landing page is providing a great user experience, please contact AdWords support and we’ll take a look. Also, for useful guidelines which will help to define what users look for in a high quality site, we hope you’ll take a look at the landing page and site quality guidelines, from the AdWords Help Center.

Good news for the long tail pay per click strategy. Good news also for Adsense Publishers, who may now enjoy higher CPCs.

In spite of Google’s Landing Page Guidelines, the speculation wiil turn to whether Adsense adverts on your website
are harming your Pay per Click traffic prices from Google; you either buy Google advertising or sell advertising, but not both?

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