Thanks so much for the posts everyone, there have been some very interesting points raised about whether or not PR is a contributing factor (see comments made by Travis, Phil Wiley and others to my last post).
I decided to email google adwords about it so that I can get a reply in writing, this is what they had to say:
Thank you for question on why many people's keywords recently became inactive for search, and what you may do to decrease the minimum bid required to reactivate these words. I am happy to answer your question below.
Your keywords recently became inactive for search due to changes in our landing page quality measures. These changed lowered your keywords' Quality Score, thereby raising their minimum bids. Below I will explain how we determine a keyword's Quality Score, and will provide you with information to help you improve the quality of your landing page.
The quality of the landing page is one factor used to determine your Quality Score, along with clickthrough rate (CTR), relevance of ad text, historical keyword performance, and other relevancy factors. By factoring in the quality of a landing page, we hope to improve the end-user experience and in turn provide advertisers with more targeted leads.
There's no one specific formula to determine the quality of a landing page or website. On a case-by-case basis, we'll evaluate the content, structure, and navigation of a website. Keep in mind, the most relevant landing pages will include a substantial amount of content that is highly relevant to not only your choice of keywords, but also to your ad text.
Personally every page I list that has a PR of 4 or more has remained unaffected. But yes, like Travis and others (see comments on my last post) I too have got PR0 sites that have remained unaffected. Although not many. Google's primary way of automating quality analysis in the past has been PR (amongst other factors).
So, I give it a good chance that PR (relative to the PR of the other competing pages), plays a part. Although this is by no means definate or a fact, this is my hunch.
But wait... they said: On a case-by-case basis, we'll evaluate the content, structure, and navigation of a website.
Does this mean that they are human reviewing the landing page's relevancy to the ads written? Surely not, that doesn't sound very google to me. But it's nowhere near as huge a undertaking as it is to human review free sites, so we have to mark it down as at least a possibility.
Most importantly though, whatever the formula or method that google uses...
Google's rep says: Keep in mind, the most relevant landing pages will include a substantial amount of content that is highly relevant to not only your choice of keywords, but also to your ad text.
The best way to figure out whether your keyword, ad, or landing page is relevant and useful is to put yourself in the shoes of a user. Do your ad and landing page include language that makes sense in the context of the keywords you've chosen? For example, if you've selected the keyword 'hiking shoes,' have you made sure that your ad mentions hiking shoes or related name brands? Does your landing page actually offer the name brands you mentioned, along with detailed information about this shoe type?
Targeting your keywords, ads, and landing pages in this way likely will lead to several positive results. First, it can help you gain the trust of your customers and therefore keep them coming back to your site. You'll also minimize the money spent on clicks from users who might not be interested in what your website offers. And finally, you can increase your overall Quality Score and lower the minimum bid necessary for your ad to appear.
To learn more about how we define quality scores, visit https://adwords.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=10215&hl=en.
To review the landing page and site quality guidelines, visit https://adwords.google.com/select/siteguidelines.html
Advertisers who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles listed in our landing page guidelines will provide a much better user experience and could see lower minimum CPC(s). If you think there are things we can do to improve the guidelines - or things that we may have overlooked - please let us know.
From what he said. This means, one way or another, you've got to make your ads more relevant to the text people search for. That is google's goal, so whatever the latest changes mean, in the long run that is what google are striving for.
Here's a couple more of my hunches:
- One way I can guess that google may perhaps automate this is by timing the length of time people visit the landing page site before leaving it. If they leave quickly, especially if they come back and click on another google ad, then it's likely they didn't find what they are looking for. Again that's just a hunch.
- Another way is by making sure the keyword text in your ad (not just the phrase the user was searching for), is also used in your landing page.
To everyone reading this blog, I'm very keen to hear your comments on my 2 hunches above. And also what has your experience been of google's changes to their algorithm?
p.s. Don't forget Google Adwords is NOT everything, not by a long long shot. In the world of pay per click (and there are numerous other traffic generating methods I use as outlined in Affilorama) I strongly recommend taking a look at Miva, Overture, and MSN. I'm guessing those 3 ppc companies will be large benefactors of the latest google changes, so too the average google searcher.