There’s been a lot of talk recently about the ways search engine marketing has changed. It started with a New York Times article about Google’s changing algorithms. That was mostly about the SEO side of things (which my colleague Ann has already addressed.) However, it did get me thinking about how drastically SEA has changed in the past six months.
Back when I first started managing search engine advertising programs, it was such a simple process. Step 1- Decide where you want your ad to show. Step 2- Bid to put it there. Look at that; it’s time for my coffee break! That’s all changed with the introduction of quality-based SEA placement on all three major search engines.
Quality-based SEA placement is more involved, but it isn’t difficult for anyone engaged in white-hat optimization practices. Your ad should be a valid response to the search term, and should accurately represent what a visitor will find on your landing page. Aside from the simple fact that this will result in more qualified leads clicking through to your site, you pay less for those clicks, and can be positioned higher than competitors paying more than you. It’s not a bad payoff for doing the job right the first time.
The people complaining about the new structure are approaching SEA strictly from a bid management perspective. Honestly, they’re probably not really “managing” anything, but rather letting an automated bid management program run their campaigns for them. Who do Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft think they are, making these individuals actually have to do work?
The industry wide shift towards quality-based ad placement is a good thing. It does create a better user experience for the person using a search engine. Plus it rewards the advertiser for writing the best ad possible, something they should already be doing anyway. For an expert SEM firm, it’s just another day at the office.