The landing page algorithm by Google AdWords has caused quite a bit of controversy amongst advertisers since it first arrived in advertiser's AdWords accounts in December 2005. Since it launched, Google updated the landing page algorithm again in May 2006, often referred to as the April bid hike. However the latest July 10th update by Google has created quite a stir in the forums and the blogosphere for many reasons, particularly how it could impact advertisers making money through click arbitrage.

Before the landing page algorithm was launched, Google used to use click through rate (CTR) as a way to determine not only how quality the ad was, but also how good the overall experience for the visitor was. Unfortunately, advertisers who provided a poor user experiences on the landing page could also write a high quality ad—or a misleading one—to promote it, resulting in an ad with a high CTR but poor user experience.

So what exactly makes for a poor user experience on a landing page? Google seems to be targeting a range of things including such things as excessive advertising or landing pages with little or nothing else but advertising. But when I talked to Nick Fox, Senior Business Product Manager from Google on the new landing page controversy, it isn't just the click arbitragers who are being targeted. He also specifically referred to market areas as well, including scams, work from home ads, and things that are "free but not really free." So not only are they targeting the overall user experience on the landing page, but specifically the actual content on the landing page as well as how it relates to the ad itself.

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