07 March 2008

Adwords Landing pages load times issue

A recent thread on webmaster world revealed that Google is planning to take into account landing page load times when calculating the Quality Score for Adwords campaigns. It appears that this information leaked out accidentally before Google had actually planned to release the information. What seems to have happened is that a change had been made to the Adwords FAQ for the planned change but then Google had decided to postpone the change but forgot to remove the FAQ change.

This could of course simply be Google "flying a kite" to see what the reaction in the Adwords community would be to this suggestion. Nevertheless for anyone using Google Adwords PPC program it now makes sense to assume that this change is inevitable and that it will happen sooner rather than later. So what are the implications?

Implications of Landing page load time
Where the landing page load time is slow then this will have the effect of reducing the Quality score for the campaign which is using this landing page. the consequence of this will l be that the Adwords user will require to set a higher bid price if they are to retain position so the campaign costs will rise.

Is Google being nasty?
In this case Google is arguably looking after the interests of web users because slow page loads are very frustrating for users. Arguably this change will also be of benefit to PPC users because it will make them realise the importance of this aspect of the user experience. having a slow landing page load time is in any case not good business because if you are paying good money for clicks through to a site then the last thing that you want is the potential customer leaving to do the shopping while waiting on your page loading!

What should Adwords Users and Affiliates do?
My first step was to start checking the load times for all my sites - including those that I am not currently running PPC on. Why include these sites? The prospect of this change made me realise that I need to go back again to my sites and look at them from a user point of view ( We should do this regularly anyway). So even where I am not using PPC I will benefit if I improve the user experience.

How do I check Load times?
I hunted for a good web based tool to check load times and one that finds issues and makes recommendations for improvement. At this point I would recommend WebSiteoptimization.com who have a speedy analyser which makes very clear recommendations geared to the analysis of your particular page. It shows various factors such as image load times, HTML load times etc etc.

Affiliate landing page load times
If you are doing PPC and are promoting a merchants product directly as the landing page then you should quality check the load times of the affiliates that you are using. if you find that you are promoting landing pages with long load times then factor in that you may be paying more in the future to promote these products through PPC. ideally the merchant will improve the load time if there is a problem. If they don't then you may have to re-evaluate the worth of this affiliate product to you.

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