Landing Page Quality = Bucket of Warm Piss

Many online marketers worry about their ‘landing page quality’ as if it actually means something. Every online ad points to a ‘landing page’ – the page the user is taken to when they click on the ad – and in the video ‘Introduction to the Google Ad Auction‘, Dr. Hal Varian, Google’s chief economist, says that ‘landing page quality’ plays a role in Google’s calculation of your Quality Score in AdWords.

What constitutes a ‘high-quality’ landing page? Well, in their AdWords Help pages, Google says a high-quality landing page:

  1. has relevant and original content; that is, “it should be clear to users” what the purpose of your site is, the content should not be copied from another website, and so on
  2. is ‘transparent’; that is, it shouldn’t do anything without a user’s permission (like load unknown software), it should be “clear to site visitors how you will use their personal information”, and
  3. is navigable; “can the user easily access additional information”? they ask, “is it simple for the user to move around the site”?

Well, OK, that’s hogwash, hogwash, and hogwash.

I did a search on June 18 for a fairly obscure, technical term and clicked on one of the ads. Here is a screenshot of the landing page:

(click to enlarge)

That’s right. It’s the default page for the website server. No ‘unique content’, no ‘About Us’ page, no privacy policy, no links to other parts of the website. A couple of months later, the ad is still running in Google’s results, and the website server isn’t even responding.

So, what is involved in Google’s ‘landing page quality’ assessment algorithm? Most likely, very little. Perhaps a check when you start running your ad to see that (1) the website loads something, (2) the something that gets loaded is not spyware nor a spam site nor any other thing that would get bad attention for Google.

Google doesn’t have to worry about an ‘About Us’ page nor ‘easy access to additional information’ because they know that you will. If you are getting (that is, paying for) traffic, but not seeing any sales, you will worry about your landing page. All Google needs to do is make certain that you’re not trying to scam Google.

So anytime anyone tells you that you can’t use Flash on your website, or you need a privacy policy or some other hogwash, just show them the website I saw, because no regular site can possibly be lower-quality than that one.

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