Why is Google Adwords ignoring our landing pages?

19 comments

Yesterday we spotted a big problem with our Google Adwords ads, after noticing that Google is ignoring our choice of landing page. Instead, it redirects people to our homepage.

Why is this happening? And is it happening to your ads? Read on to find out...

E Consultancy

N.B. This post has been edited (added paragraph below)& authed by (but not written by) JasonD.
Although this post was posted anon and it read in a very spammy manner the link was to E Consultancy, a respected and admired company in the UK. I even like and enjoy chatting with Ashley Friedlein, the CEO at E Consultancy but by god, do they need to learn how to post a thread at a community site - Further comments from me in the comments section!

Comments

Interesting

Interesting problem.

Although I don't use (nor have I heard) of the terminology of an "in link url" (anyone for some BS Bingo?) we all (most) use a form of tracking, which is what this is (although looking at the URLs it seems to be mostly mod rewrite and cookie based) and Google are breaking it.

It seems that either something has gone wrong at G's end or something has gone wrong at E Consultancys'. Either are cause for concern!

The big question for me is are Google (whether by design or error) sending clicks to where they believe they should go, in preference to where an advertiser says they should go?

probably inevitable

after reading that you are now discouraged from using exact match on adwords. Rather you are to put in broad match terms and load it to the hilt with negative keywords for the stuff you dont want. Google chooses what searches it thinks are worthy of your site as it knows better, how many to send you, how much to charge you and finally this would be a nice ending to complete advertiser control.

302 ACK!!!

1 Server Response: http://www.e-consultancy.com/in/statistics
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 302 Object moved
Connection: close
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 22:23:06 GMT
Server: Microsoft-IIS/6.0
X-Powered-By: ASP.NET
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Set-Cookie: ASPSESSIONIDAABQTABB=EFLDPGHCHPHJPOAFHJKJBCFM; path=/
Cache-control: private
Redirect Target: /publications/internet-stats-compendium/

Jason you're using a 302 redirect with Google and you wonder why they have a problem with it?

Michael, I aint using a 302.

Michael, I aint using a 302. A respected internet consulting company that I have nothing to do with (Other than knowing the CEO) are.

My Apologies

My apologies then, but I'd suggest a 301 or js redirect. Ebay uses a 301 on their [dead squirrels] advertising and it seems to work for them

#1 Server Response: http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-33994-2056-0/2?type=search&mpre=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebay.com%2Fsearch%2Fsearch.dll%3Fquery%3Ddead%2520squirrels%26sortproperty%3Dmetaendsort%26st%3D1%26newu%3D1%26xpufu%3Dx&keyword=dead%20squirrels
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
Set-Cookie: npii=btrm/svid%3D39013391338474f461a^tguid/e4bd5b9a10b0a0874825d5f8ffe90a96474f461a^tpim/2474f461a^; Domain=.ebay.com; Expires=Thu, 29-Nov-2007 23:07:06 GMT; Path=/
P3P: CP="NOI CURa ADMa DEVa TAIa OUR BUS IND UNI COM NAV INT"
Cache-Control: private
Pragma: no-cache
Location: http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?query=dead%20squirrels&sortproperty=metaendsort&st=1&newu=1&xpufu=x
Content-Length: 0
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 23:07:06 GMT
Connection: close
Redirect Target: http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?query=dead%20squirrels&sortproperty=metaendsort&st=1&newu=1&xpufu=x

#2 Server Response: http://search.ebay.com/search/search.dll?query=dead%20squirrels&sortproperty=metaendsort&st=1&newu=1&xpufu=x
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently
Server: Microsoft-IIS/5.0
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 23:07:06 GMT
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
Set-Cookie: ebay=%5Ecv%3D15555%5E; Domain=.ebay.com; Path=/
Set-Cookie: ns1=BAQAAAQ8r3Fq8AAaAANgAR0dPRhtpMWM2NXw0NzVeMTE2NDc2Njc3OTY1MF4wXl4wXmEwMTIwMGE4MzBlXjNeMF41MF4yXjReNF4zXjJeMV4xXjFeMV4wXjBeMB33ijnpfYwhOE4AHMh+98mppyak; Domain=.ebay.com; Expires=Thu, 29-Nov-2007 23:07:07 GMT; Path=/
Set-Cookie: dp1=bspref/04930799b^etfc/545e4b99b^p/25047-2726329354%3C07%3E25047-27263293544930799b^u1p/QEBfX0BAX19AQA**474f461b^; Domain=.ebay.com; Expires=Fri, 28-Nov-2008 23:07:07 GMT; Path=/
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Set-Cookie: s=CgAD4ACBFb2QbMzVmOGFlZDQxMGYwYTBlMTc0ZTczZDA3ZmZmYzM1ZDPp2MZQ; Domain=.ebay.com; Path=/
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Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 23:07:06 GMT
Content-Type: text/html
Redirect Target: http://search.ebay.com/dead-squirrels_W0QQfclZ4QQfnuZ1QQfsopZ1QQxpufuZx

#3 Server Response: http://search.ebay.com/dead-squirrels_W0QQfclZ4QQfnuZ1QQfsopZ1QQxpufuZx
HTTP Status Code: HTTP/1.1 200 OK
Server: Microsoft-IIS/5.0
Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 23:07:06 GMT
Server: Apache-Coyote/1.1
Set-Cookie: ds2=alss/0.dead%2Bsquirrels456f641b^; Domain=.ebay.com; Path=/
Set-Cookie: ebay=%5Ecompare-items%3D%7Edomain%3D.ebay.com%7E%5Esbf%3D8192%5Ecv%3D15555%5Elvmn%3D0%7C0%7C%5E; Domain=.ebay.com; Path=/
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Set-Cookie: s=CgAD4ACBFb2QbMzVmOGFmNjExMGYwYTBlMTc0ZTczZDA3ZmZmYzM1ZDIIv3bE; Domain=.ebay.com; Path=/
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Date: Wed, 29 Nov 2006 23:07:07 GMT

I agree mate, but more

I agree mate, but more importantly is (IMHO) making sure that G know about this and do something to change it. If you directly pay via PPC for a listing on G.com and you want it to end up on URL A then there is no way in the world your visitors should end up on URL B.

A 302 is a valid temporary

A 302 is a valid temporary redirect, last I looked. Yes, Google gets that wrong. But Google should fix that problem, right?

"Google's Continued Mishandling of 302 Redirects breaks PPC, skews bidding process, artificially raises bids, Google exploits market inefficiency it created and can't seem to fix, if you run PPC an ddon't have a good SEO on hand you're overpaying Google, blah blah blah"... it's all valid news IMHO.

Do you think this ought to be suppressed because SEOs know about Google's problem with redirects?

My gut feeling is that G do

My gut feeling is that G do know about and do have it on their list of stuff to change but don't have the intent to make extra money through this specific flaw in their system, although as John pointed out, it may well have the side effect of raising money spent on G PPC.

Why don't I think G intend to make money out of a PPC 302 problem?

It's a hell of a lot easier to simply not tell people why they pay, what they pay for an advert by obfuscating the hell out of the bidding / CTR / Quality Score / Bullshit / etc bidding process!

Fixing the problem

Agreed Google should fix the problem but they are pretty content making over the internet so it suits their needs. Heck threating people to delist their sites if they don't link to advertisers the way Google wants is awfully arrogant. Rather than fix their algo Google is smug in declaring use "no follow" on your adverts "or else"

I passed on the feedback. As

I passed on the feedback. As I understand it, if you buy AdWords, you can opt to get a unique id on every ad click. So if I bought a red widget ad, an AdWords click might look like
www.mattcutts.com/blog/red-widget-post&gclid=00000001

On the one hand, a click id is brilliant--advertisers and search engines can identify exactly which exact click they're discussing in a way that timestamps can't do. You can imagine how useful this would be for auditing paid clicks, for example.

Note that if Google started adding "&gclid=(uniqueclickid)" to AdWords clicks, it would break a ton of other people's landing pages and tracking. That's why this system has to be opt-in for existing advertisers. I think AdWords calls it autotagging.

Okay, that's the background on gclid and autotagging as I understand it.

It sounds like E-Consultancy signed up to get unique click ids (good for them!), but didn't account for those click ids in their landing pages. The specific feedback is maybe Google should show a dummy gclid param on test clicking from the AdWords admin section. I passed that feedback on.

Matt, thanks Are you saying

Matt, thanks

Are you saying that the fault lies at E Consultancys' end (probably due to them not changing their tracking system code to take into account the extra gclick=1234 name/value pair, which will result in a 404, which in turn probably has the home page set for 404 errors) and that 302 redirecting URLs entered into the Adwords console will be rendered correctly by the G system and then displayed correctly to the browser so be the landing URL for adverts entered by an advertiser ARE the URL that paid traffic will end up on?

/me takes breath....

JasonD, that sentence blew

JasonD, that sentence blew my mind around line 2 or so. :) It does sounds like it's the click id param (gclid) that real ad clicks get, and accounting for that should help. In the mean time, I'll pass on the request that testing clicks should also include the click id (even with a dummy value). That just makes things more clear.

I sure could have written it

I sure could have written it better, that's a definate :) Even though (and I appreciate this is outside your department so you may not know for sure) your answer does sound very "political" in so much as you are kind of agreeing without formally giving a Goog or Matt Cutts statement in saying the Adwords system isn't broken.

The bigger question is when are you going to start giving lessons to politicians on how to avoid a question with a smile? :D

My *personal* opinion would

My *personal* opinion would be that the frontend UI sounds suboptimal in this case, but I'm not close enough to the issue to be sure I'm right. As opposed to web search, where I'm often sure I'm right. ;)

hehehe, Excellent answer Mr

hehehe, Excellent answer Mr C :)

Just for the record though I think you're often right on web search too, except when you ban some of my sites, when you are very very wrong! :D

Cloakers may use this...

That's my first thought when i read matt's comment...A cloaker can present a good content'ish page to editors/adbot and redirect to a 'conversion optimized page' for the real clickers (by sensing the gclick id)

A cloaker can present a good

Quote:
A cloaker can present a good content'ish page to editors/adbot and redirect to a 'conversion optimized page' for the real clickers (by sensing the gclick id)

A cloaker may do almost anything, and is breaking the TOS, and thus such considerations are an enforcement issue, not an operational issue. It should only be when operations admits an uncontrollable risk, or enforcement is ineffective, that enforcement gets integrated with operational design.

If Google's system is broke, then Google should fix it. If Google can't fix it, Google can try to integrate enforcement into the design, which are really constraints, and which (should) enable competitors to step in with more flexible systems.

Let's not be too quick to grant Google a license to create restrictive, non-standards-compliant, sometimes anti-competitive regulations as if it were ok because they are Google and need to protect themselves.

It's supposed to be really, really hard to earn hundreds of billions of dollars in profits.

So...the overall story here

So...the overall story here is that a marketing company cocked up on their marketing, then advertised this?

Hands up... I posted this...

Totally my fault with regards to posting anonymously - I genuinely thought I was logged in, but clearly not. My apologies.

Thanks for all the great comments / insight in this post. We're looking into a fix at this end as it sounds like there are better ways of implementing our tracking, using 301s / changing rules etc.

It's good to see Matt Cutts / Google being proactive with regards to the Adwords admin / testing - a dummy click ID will definitely help improve Adwords for advertisers.

Cheers,

c.

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