Advertisers beware Big changes are coming in the PPC world…

In the online advertising world, updates, small tweaks, etc. are made to the search engines on a pretty regular basis without tremendous controversy. However, the past few weeks have tested advertisers’ patience, as both Google and Yahoo! have announced some hefty upcoming changes that have caused a bit of a stir in the PPC world, as they may cause a significant negative impact across advertisers accounts.

First, take a step back and ask yourself a few questions:

1. Do you use redirects on your landing pages that slow down the user’s experience? 2. Are you operating off of a slow server?

If you answered yes to either of the above, the new addition to the Google Quality Score may have a negative impact on your account. Google has announced that within the next 2 weeks landing page load time will become a factor in determining the Quality Score. Google suggests that one of their motives behind this change comes from (1) data showing that users have the best experience when there is not a long time in between clicking an ad and getting to the landing page. Google plans to add this to the Keyword Analysis page shortly, giving advertisers with a bad review a month to improve page load time before slapping them with a lower quality score.

I, for one, am actually in favor of this change, especially from a consumer point of view. If I have to wait for a page to load, there’s a large chance I will abandon my search and try someone else (and probably one of your competitors). If you can’t serve me your landing page with the information I am seeking in a timely fashion, I cannot imagine what other obstacles I may face using your product/service. This is exactly Google’s second (2) motive for adding the page load time to the QS. While I am sure Google will make an extra dollar off of this change by lowering QS and raising minimum bids for advertisers, advertisers on the other hand will get a bit of a wake up call and a slight insight as to why their conversion rates may be lower than expected. Should advertisers take Google’s expertise to heart and work to improve page load times, it may be a god-send in decreasing bounce rates, in turn improving conversion rates.

Now ask yourself the following:
1. Are you bidding on terms that are not relevant to your business?
2. Do you have well-structured ad groups around tightly themed keyword groups?
3. Are you bidding on a keyword level to take advantage of lower bids for certain keywords (to offset higher bids on other keywords)?
4. Are you utilizing keyword match type (broad, phase, exact and negative)?

Depending on your answers above, the next big announcement from Yahoo! (who is not only hanging on through the talks of being bought by Microsoft, but is taking even more steps to tailor their engine to mirror Google) may cause your minimum bids to increase OR decrease. Yahoo! has announced the change of their minimum bid function, which previously had been set at $0.10. Now, they are moving more towards the “Google auction method”, taking into account factors such as quality of the keyword and value and are creating a bit of chaos in the PPC world as well.

As an advertiser, it’s important to closely monitor your minimum bids over the next few weeks as this update rolls out. While some keywords may drop below the $0.10 bid, others may jump well above the $0.10, causing you to bid more for terms that previously you were able to get away with low bids on.

To best prepare yourself for the update, I suggest putting yourself into the user’s mindset — Are you offering the best user experience you can? Chances are, if you see flaws in the experience, they will too.