The Inside Adwords Blog has a new post that tries to answer some questions they have received from advertisers regarding their new landing page quality update. The latest update upset a few people for a number of reasons (some valid, some less so…) but overall there was an overwhelming consensus that there was a serious lack of transparency.

Here’s a couple of interesting quotes from the post;

Why did you make this change right before the holiday season?

As more and more holiday shoppers turn online to find gifts, we want to do everything we can to serve the most relevant and highest quality ads to our users. By making improvements to landing page quality, we’re not only able to help users (who are your potential customers) find what they want, but also help you maximize your leads because your ads will no longer have to compete with ads that are providing a poor user experience. To give a bit more background, we had an internal debate about when to release these changes. We ultimately decided that since our focus is providing the most relevant advertising, it was best to launch these long-planned improvements as soon as we were ready to go, technically speaking.

It obviously had nothing to do with getting a nice big slice of the pie in time for the Christmas rush.

Can a page that has a high CTR or conversion rate be considered a poor quality landing page?

In short, yes. Though the Quality Score incorporates the CTR of your keyword, when our system is specifically evaluating your landing page quality, it does not consider the CTR of your keywords or any conversion tracking or Google Analytics data in the account.

Us paranoid souls do sometimes think otherwise.

Instead, it’s focused on the actual content and relevance of your landing page to a user who clicks on your ad and ends up on your site. It is well worth noting that not all ads with a high CTR provide a good experience for users. For example, an ad may promote a new home for sale in San Francisco for the query ‘San Francisco homes’, but after clicking on the ad, the user is taken to a page that shows houses in Seattle. This is not a particularly good experience for the user — but the ad itself could still be highly relevant to the keyword, and thus is likely to have a high CTR.

So did Google miss out the conversion part of the question or is it just me? Googles answer seems to be simply that they don’t check conversion. We all know that adverts with high CTR might well be mis-informing users and infact deliver a poor user experience. We know this. But generally speaking, if a webpage fairly delivers a high conversion rate as per some examples, surely it should be considered a positive user experience?

It seems to me Google is determining relevancy and quality of experience for us all, without getting it quite right. It begs the question again, does anyone really think this update was completely quality driven?

I posted a few thoughts on the SEW forums.