Two Big Things from Google AdWords

Two big announcements from the Google AdWords team this afternoon:

1. Category Exclusion. Now Content Network advertisers can exclude huge swaths of sites that shouldn’t display their ads. This is yet another powerful way for advertisers to focus their ad efforts on sites that will convert. I’ll be analyzing this move in an upcoming installment of my SEW Content Advertising column; meanwhile, see the official description below.

2. Landing Page load time will now be considered a factor in Quality Score. This one’s fascinating. For those who didn’t attend my PPC Summit Quality Score presentation this week: there are several (many?) Quality Scores, and the one related to landing pages has been one of the least impactful. But now, landing page load time will be a factor – which underscores the main point of my presentation: do the right thing for your site visitors (a.k.a. potential customers), and your quality score will be fine. With this move, Google is saying, It’s a bad idea to force PPC ad respondents to wait too long for the landing page to load.” Great advice for all PPC advertisers.

Here are the Official Descriptions:

We’ve updated the Site Exclusion tool to give you more control over where your ads appear on the Google content network. It’s now called the Site and Category Exclusion tool, and it allows you to exclude certain categories of webpages from your content network campaigns in addition to excluding individual sites.

If you find that you’re repeatedly excluding many sites of the same type, either to optimize for the content network or to further control your campaign’s exposure, using category exclusion can be a simpler way to control your ads’ visibility. Category exclusion can be used with any type of campaign running on the content network: keyword-targeted or placement-targeted.

Here’s how category exclusion works: when we use our contextual targeting technology to scan a page in the Google content network and determine relevant ads to show, we also check to see if the content on the page matches any of the topics or page types available for exclusion. If there is a match between a category you’ve excluded and the page’s classification, your ads won’t show on that page. We classify pages dynamically, so even as the content of a page changes your ads should be prevented from showing for categories you’ve excluded.

Before using category exclusion, it’s important to consider the following points:

  • All sites in the content network are already required to comply with Google’s AdSense policies. Several levels of review are in place to detect that pages in the network comply with these guidelines. However, some advertisers have requested the ability to avoid additional types of content that don’t meet their advertising goals, and we’ve released category exclusion in order to provide this control.
  • Excluding a category could potentially block your ads from appearing on a number of relevant pages and severely impact your campaign performance. We recommend that you refer to the statistics provided in the Site and Category Exclusion tool before making any exclusions. Keep in mind that a low clickthrough rate on content network pages is not necessarily an indication of poor performance, especially if your goal is to maximize ROI. Further, your ads’ clickthrough rate on the content network does not affect your quality score, minimum bids, or position on or other pages in the search network.
  • While webpages are categorized to the best of our technology’s ability, excluding a category does not guarantee that you have excluded every related webpage. If you see that your ad has shown on an undesired webpage, you can exclude that page by adding the URL through the tool’s Sites tab.

Category exclusion is our latest tool to give you increased control over your content network campaigns. If you are looking for additional insight and flexibility when advertising on the Google content network, we encourage you to check out CPC bidding for placement targeting and Placement Performance reports.


As part of our continuing efforts to improve the user experience, we will soon incorporate an additional factor into Quality Score: landing page load time. Load time is the amount of time it takes for a user to see the landing page after clicking an ad.

Why are we doing this?
Two reasons: first, users have the best experience when they don’t have to wait a long time for landing pages to load. Interstitial pages, multiple redirects, excessively slow servers, and other things that can increase load times only keep users from getting what they want: information about your business. Second, users are more likely to abandon landing pages that load slowly, which can hurt your conversion rate.

When are we making this change?
In the next few weeks, we will add load time evaluations to the Keyword Analysis page (we’ll notify you when they are available). You will then have one month to review your site and make necessary adjustments.

After the one month review period, this load time factor will be incorporated into your keywords’ Quality Scores. Keywords with landing pages that load very slowly may get lower Quality Scores (and thus higher minimum bids). Conversely, keywords with landing pages that load very quickly may get higher Quality Scores and lower minimum bids.

To learn more about the upcoming change, please see this article in the AdWords Help Center.