Google’s quality vs money contradictionMarch 31, 2012 6:06 pm Google Adwords
Google love to tell the world how they’re so focused on ensuring that high quality websites appear in their search results. If you look at the page http://googleblog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/finding-more-high-quality-sites-in.html a couple of sentences jump out:
“Our goal is simple: to give people the most relevant answers to their queries as quickly as possible.”
“So, we’re very excited about this new ranking improvement because we believe it’s a big step in the right direction of helping people find ever higher quality in our results.”
So there’s this big focus on ensuring organic search results are very relevant and high quality. That point itself is debatable BUT not the argument point here for this blog. What bugs me is that on one hand they can talk about quality (organic results) but when it comes to the Adwords (PPC) listings ‘quality’ gives way to ‘money’ (for them).
To give an example, I searched for ‘pink trousers’ (don’t read anything into that – it was genuinely the first thing that came to mind!) and I got this search result page, which I’ve added notes onto …
The Adwords results are in the coloured box on the left and all down the right-hand-side. Bear in mind that I’ve searched for ‘pink trousers’ …
The top three adverts (coloured box on the left) are all relevant – no arguments there. On the right-hand-side though there are 4 listings that contradict the ‘quality’ message that Google bang on about.
Top of the right-hand-side you have an ebay ad, which has a description and picture that has nothing ‘pink’ about it (but are trousers). Two below that you have an advert that has no reference to pink, and then the same two below that. Then there’s the Amazon advert which refers to pink clothes in general, but not pink trousers specifically.
Towards the bottom of the right you’ll see the adverts titled:
Super cheap Pink Trouser
… both of which are more relevant to my search for ‘pink trousers’ than are the 4 offending adverts.
So, how is it possible for non-pink-trousers listings to appear above listings that are more relevant?
The answer is: money. Those 4 offending adverts will be offering budget, probably to be visible any time someone searches for ‘trousers’ (with the exception of the Amazon one, which is probably triggered more by the ‘pink’).
Here’s a bit of proof – type something rubbish like ‘abcdef trousers’ and you see that www.marisota.co.uk advert appear in exactly the same way as shown in the screenshot above.
This is where it’s all a bit unfair on both advertisers AND the searcher. The advertisers who don’t get high positioning for the phrase ‘pink trousers’ are probably in that position because they can’t afford to pay a higher cost per click allowance than people like www.marisota.co.uk will offer for any variation on ‘trousers’. Is it fair to penalise advertisers who have a relevant advert matching up to the search phrase typed?
Is it also fair to make the searcher (me) have to see adverts appear that are irrelevant to the subject of ‘pink trousers’?
In both the case of those advertisers lower down (and onto the second and more pages of Google results), and also the people doing the searching, the answer is the same …
It’s not fair.
And it stinks because it appears that companies have to adhere to certain rules to get listed in the organic positions of Google but when it comes to the Adwords listings, what counts is who offers the most money, not the relevance of adverts that appear.
And that, everyone, is the way Google have gone over the years. They may make a lot of money out of it but in time people will tire of irrelevant Adwords listings and will start to ignore the adverts. At the same time, advertisers will tire of being unable to get their relevant adverts above the irrelevant (to the search phrase) stuff and will vote with their feet.
How long before we see Google report a decline in advertising revenues? I give it two years maximum. Shorter if Bing/Facebook ever get their act properly together.