Turn of the century SEO is now PPC
At the turn of the century, SEO was based upon on-page factors. Over time, these factors changed from on-page to off-page, and SEO was as much about relationship (link) building as it was about on page factors.
During this time, PPC evolved to be all about dollars and ad relevancy (CTR). However, times have changed. SEOs spend their time thinking about marketing, and PPC analysts spend their time thinking about on-page factors due to the ambiguous quality score.
If we examine SEO from the late 90s and early 2000s, the major engines were AltaVista, Hotbot, Excite, and Lycos. Each of these engines had different algorithms for determining relevancy. However, the one item they all had in common was that relevancy was determined by on-page factors.
This created an atmosphere where SEO was about reverse engineering each engine individually and then creating specific pages (often called doorway pages) for each engine. One looked at ranking by engine, and then didn’t tweak the site, a SEO tweaked an individual page that was created for that crawler.
During this time, GoTo.com (which evolved into Overture.com and now Yahoo Search Marketing) was pay per position marketing. The highest bidder was number one, end of story. Then Google introduced AdWords Select and shook up the marketplace with ‘relevancy’.
An ad’s rank was based around the max CPC (cost per click) and the ads CTR (click through rate). This formula quickly let Google put ‘relevancy’ into the hands of its users by ‘electing’, virtue of the highest click through rate, the most relevant ads for any term. At the same time, this score helped Google maximize revenues by showing the ads which were most likely to contribute to Google’s profits.
While Google was determining relevancy by CTR, Overture was still looking at max bids for placement, PPC was about ad copy and conversion rates. Those were the two important metrics to measure. One could still measure conversion rate by ad copy, keywords, position, etc. However, the landing pages were about conversions for PPC, and they were about organic rankings for the SEOs.
As Google gained in popularity, SEO changed. The introduction of Pagerank (and then trustrank) meant that off-page factors could make as much of an impact (and often more) than on-page factors. The effectiveness of doorway pages feel into oblivion. SEO became part of marketing in the form of link building (or relationship building when sites agreed to link to each other for the mutual benefit of both).
Link building has evolved over time as the algorithms became smarter at finding reciprocal, three way, farms, and spam links. However, SEO was forever changed from just examining a page and algo shift, making some tweaks, and seeing the results. Now, one had to talk in ‘theory’ about links and marketing.
Recently, PPC has introduced the notion of ‘quality score’. Quality score is the next evolution of ‘highest CTR’ or ‘highest bid’ means that your ad will be placed tops in the ad listings. Essentially, Google thinks of searchers as its users. They don’t want to just send someone to a page if that marketer is paying the most money. They want to send users to pages where a searcher will have a good experience. Hence, ads positions are now determined by quality score and maximum bid.
Instead of a pay-per-position or ‘just have a relevant ad’ (i.e. high click through rate), PPC marketers have to look at landing page factors, click through rate history, ad copy, etc and begin to reverse engineer algorithms.
Gone are the days when pay per click just meant conversion rates, click through rate, and marketing dollars. They are the new SEOs. However, their SEO is remarkably similar to turn of the century SEO.
With Google, Yahoo, and adCenter all having different quality score algorithms, there are three formulas to reverse engineer. Since off-page factors aren’t used in these determinations, the factors are limited to strictly on-page or on-site. Sound similar to turn of the century SEO?
The days of the doorway pages isn’t dead; it’s been transformed from SEO to PPC.
Find the SEOs who specialized in formula engineering and page creation and offer them a job as a ‘quality score engineer’.
It’s time to dust off your old doorway page generator and start programming it for PPC.
Turn of the century SEO isn’t dead. It’s now known as PPC landing page quality score.