Google’s Use of Conversion Rates for Quality Score

QualityboyBill Slawski at SEO by the Sea provides a fascinating look at a recent Google patent application on ROI & Quality Score determination. In the application Google provides information and<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bragadocchio/340096133/”> a flow chart that makes clear the invention titled “Adjusting Ad Costs Using Document Performance or Document Collection Performance” factors quality score determination differently if the ad has conversion tracking (presumably Google Analytics) or if it does not have conversion tracking.

Here is the Abstract:

Documents or document sets may be scored to reflect a value of an action, such as a selection for example, when an ad is served with the document (or a document belonging to a document set). A cost associated with the action with respect to an ad that was served with a document may then be adjusted using the score. For example, ad scores may be accepted or determined, and a document may be scored using the ad scores when served with the document and ad scores across a collection of documents to generate a document score. Each of the ad scores may indicate a value of an action with respect to an ad, such as a conversion rate, or a return on investment for an ad selection for example (emphasis mine). Document scores used in this way may help advertisers get a more consistent cost per conversion, or return on investment, without requiring them to enter and manage various offers for various documents and/or various ad serving systems having various conversion rates or returns on investment.


Google has gone on record many times that is does not treat Google “customers” any differently than the rest of the world. Google has ensured the integrity of its natural search engine rankings to not be affected by domains being an AdWords customer or not. AdWords performance (position, minimum bid) are also said to not be affected by being a Google Analytics customer or not.

Many SEOs & SEMs have doubted the first ascertainment dating back to Google’s Florida update in the late Fall of 2003 that knocked tons of small to mid-size eCommerce sites off the SERPs with the only way to get back on in time for the Holiday season being to buy Ads. The second ascertainment seems to be contradicted, at least in spirit for the moment with the patent application.

Of course this raises all sorts of questions. Clearly there is only benefit to users and advertisers if conversion rate data can be incorporated into Google’s quality score. But how, or more importantly, why should advertisers and businesses give this information to Google. Can you treat advertisers differently based on participation? Could Google try to force advertisers hands? Google does talk about the difficulty with this in the application but it would seem to me Google Analytics could very easily be incorporated into a QS algo.

I raised these questions when Google first announced the AdsBot and their taking landing page content as a factor in quality score. At SES a few weeks ago I presented some interesting data on Ad impressions and conversion rates, showing a delta between what is good for Google (CTR) and what is good for Advertisers (CR). Clearly the current Quality Score system has a number of flaws, though I’m sure we’ll see some beneficial changes in 2007. It will be interesting to see where and if and how conversion rate factors into those changes since nothing determines relevance and quality better than conversion.

One thought on “Google’s Use of Conversion Rates for Quality Score

  1. I can’t believe they put that into a patent.
    “Document scores used in this way may help advertisers get a more consistent cost per conversion”
    Or in other words.. “may help Google charge the maximum amount an advertiser can withstand”
    I’ve been saying this every since they launched their “free” conversion tracker.

    Like

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