June 8, 2010, 2:42 PM

Landing pages matter, but how much?

Poor landing pages are only a piece of Google’s quality score formula.

Thad Rueter

Senior Editor

Lead Photo

Christopher Kenney (left) and Kevin Lee (center) answer audience questions on search engine marketing.

Online retailers need to pay attention to landing pages to impress Google Inc.’s search engine, but a great landing page won't necessarily lead to rocketing quality scores.

That was one of the messages offered today by Christopher Kenney, associate manager, search, at online print product retailer VistaPrint Ltd., and Kevin Lee, CEO and chairman of online marketing firm Didit, at the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition in a session entitled "Keeping your quality score high."

A quality score is how Google measures the relevance of an ad to a search query. Google uses quality scores as part of Google AdWords, the bidding system for ads on the search engine. Various factors determine quality scores, which Google frequently updates.

A landing page that loads slowly or that sends shoppers to a site with products they did not want can damage quality scores, Kenney said. For instance, if a consumer were searching for car tires and the ad led to a page with other auto accessories that would constitute a poor landing page.

That said, great landing pages are unlikely to boost quality scores. "Landing page quality is only used as a penalty, not to improve the quality score," Kenney said.

Kenney and Lee also advised online retailers hoping to increase quality scores to create highly relevant ads, choose appropriate keywords and avoid using unnecessary duplicate keywords among ads in order to avoid a retailer competing with itself. Kenney added that retailers also should bid on keywords that are plural or singular versions of important terms, and also to bid on common misspellings of keywords.

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