For the past several months Google has been testing a new algorithm change that would place higher importance on the optimization of PPC landing pages. Latin America including Portugal, Spain and South America have been serving as Google’s testing grounds while the search company makes final tweaks. The algorithm change will be rolled out to the US market within the next couple of weeks.

Google AdWords’ quality score algorithm already takes into account landing pages quality among other factors like ad relevance, click through rates and general account performance. By implementing optimized landing pages AdWords customers will be able to obtain a higher quality score when entering the auction, allowing them to be served at a higher position at a lower click through rate than poorly optimized landing pages. On the same hand weak landing pages will most likely suffer a lower quality score that would raise the cost per click and any performance metrics beyond the initial bid (ie. Cost per conversion).

The director of product management on Google’s ad quality team, Jonathan Alferness, confirmed the change and stated that “We’ve seen that there are ads available in the auction that are as good a quality as the top ads but the landing pages are of much higher quality than the ads that we see at the top of our auction”. The algorithm change would allow advertisers with highly relevant landing pages to perform more competitively with top performing advertisers. This is a huge incentive for AdWords advertisers to more closely align landing page keywords and content with the phrases of which they are bidding on in the auction. Google hopes that the change to the quality score algorithm will result in a more relevant and positive experience for users and help clean up poorly optimized landing pages at the same time.

For those who have spent any amount of time in AdWords, quality score can make or break a campaign. It can be the difference of paying $1 per click or $10 per click! Quality score optimization is a major part of account management and requires a strong SEM partner to help guide advertisers though account setup and landing page optimization. There is tons of great information on Google’s quality score and how it is calculated. “What we always ask our advertisers to focus on is relevance – Choose a landing page or site experience that is both relevant to the keywords that you’re target and also a good experience for the end users”, says Alferness.

Just like any Google Algorithm update you should expect some volatility within the auction. PPC advertisers should be aware of the update and be extra alert to account changes. Google has said that things should settle down in couple of weeks as the new update goes live.