Many advertisers are experiencing alarming increases in bid prices imposed by Google for adwords campaigns. Previously successful keywords have been made inactive by Google who are demanding some eye-watering increases in bid price to reactivate the keyword.

Is this a sign that Google is desperately trying to satisfy investors or is there some rational reason for the increases being demanded?

The root of the issue is the increasing importance Google is placing on the landing pages for adwords campaigns and the concept of ‘quality score’. All search engines are constantly striving to deliver relevant results for their users. This applies to both the organic search results and the sponsored listings.

If you are searching for ‘search engine marketing agency’, you would hope and expect to find a number of search engine marketing agencies in the results pages.

Google is simply becoming more demanding about the landing pages used for PPC campaigns in order to ensure the best possible experience for its users. In its own words:

“‘…..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……..”

Theoretically, this is a sound principle and should lead to improved user satisfaction.

The complaints are from advertisers who have been running successful PPC campaigns, with high click through rates and good conversion levels, who are suddenly forced to make massive increases in bid price, making the advertising unviable.

As with most automated processes, it is likely that some websites are being unfairly ‘punished’ for not having landing pages that are deemed relevant by Google’s spiders. Some webmasters have considered restricting access to the landing pages with the robots.txt file but we believe this to be strongly inadvisable as it is likely to lead to the lowest quality score possible.

Ultimately, the best suggestion is to look carefully at the landing pages being used and ensure that they are accessible to the spiders and are clearly relevant to the PPC ads.

Perhaps the greatest source of frustration, as is frequently the case with Google, is the lack of clear guidance. Whilst it is understandable that the algorithm used for organic rankings is very secretive, adwords advertisers are effectively Google’s clients. It is not a free service and Google is making huge amounts of profit thanks to these advertisers.

In a period of keyword price deflation, the demands being made by Google are a risky strategy and it is very likely that many advertisers will refuse to meet the increased costs, so perhaps the move will backfire? Google’s honeymoon is most definitely over and ‘Google hatred’ is a growing phenomenon that is fuelled by such seemingly money orientated moves.

Or perhaps there will be more advertisers ready to fill the boots of any of those who stop advertising and Google will continue to march on. Only time will tell.