PPC management has gotten more difficult in the last year or so. Increasingly unsuspecting advertisers are being penalized (sometimes even suspended or banned) for compliance errors, and increasingly, Google is slowly forcing advertisers to be more and more “user experience” providers for its search engine than to sell their own product.
Why is this, and what do we mean when we are talking Google compliance? We’re talking about those things that your website and campaign can and cannot include, not in your opinion but Googles’. (Hey life isn’t fair!)
Miss any of these things and your account can be suspended and you can even get banned as an advertiser, for life. This means that any new Adwords accounts you start, no matter what you want to sell, you are shut out of the market. Pretty painful, right? You bet.
We’ve helped some very high profile marketers get unbanned and put in proper PPC management but before you get there here’s a few things you need to know.
- Always respond to a notice regarding policy violations for Google AdWords.
- Fix the problem and report back that it is done.
- Under no circumstances should you delete the campaign (pausing it is fine.) Google made a quiet little change a few months ago which prevents you from editing any deleted campaigns or ads, thus freezing your error in time forever. Deleting a campaign does not save you from suspension or banning. The deleted campaign is still attached to you but can never be recovered into your active account. Google has some reasoning for this, but the old days of being able to just change a deleted offending ad to paused are gone, along with your ability to edit the offending ad. Many advertisers when they get compliance issues delete ads and campaigns as a first action, and this is a big, big mistake now. We have seen instances of people banned for life that simply had an old deleted affiliate campaign that they haven’t run in years, but because the campaign was sending traffic to another site that Google deemed to not be in compliance with Adwords. Don’t let this happen to you.
- Landing page “quality” is important. This can be one of the most frustrating areas for advertisers dealing with Adwords, as the interpretation of what Google thinks is good “quality” is not enforced uniformly and can be different, depending on who you talk to at Google. In many cases, a landing page that is high “quality” also doesn’t convert as well, thus taking money directly out of advertisers pockets for the priveledge of providing a good “user experience” for Google searchers. However, what Google expects is clear on their website, and here it is:
- Relevant Content
- Ease of Navigation
Wait. Transparency? So let me get this straight, a Fortune 500 corporation with one of the worst records of internet privacy in the world, and who is famous for its closed mouthedness on almost all aspects of its operations requires this of their advertisers? You got it right. This is how the game is played, my friends. You must please the Google Gods if you want to be able to keep on advertising, and the above is what they are looking to see.
These elements of landing pages are pretty general and have numerous flavors of interpretations, and we can’t really do it justice within one article. However, if you look over these things you can clearly see that an opt in page where people are required to give you information in order to access content, but where nowhere on the page do you say who you are, how you can be contacted, what services you offer to the public, and what you intend to do with their information, would be considered a bad user experience, and therefore a bad landing page in Google’s view.
5. Now lets move onto the next little snippet which tens of thousands of advertisers have received with dread:
“An account may get suspended if you have several violations or a serious violation. If this happens, all ads in the suspended account will stop running, and we may no longer accept advertising from you. Any related accounts may also get permanently suspended and your new accounts may get automatically suspended at set up.”
Wait, did you read that? If your account is suspended Google will no long accept advertising from you–even if you are in a different business, with a different website or company. I know, it’s a bit harsh. Even murderers sometimes get released on parole. You are blackballed for life, with no trial, and your potential judge is one of over 20,000 Google employees, maybe even a junior level 20 year old, who probably cares more for whats for lunch in the free Google cafeteria than whether your kids eat or not.
To be fair, there have been many many unscrupulous web operators, advertising in Google with all kinds of fraudulent schemes and Google wants to protect its users, and keep advertisers to a high standard. This is admirable, however, when you get to the lower levels of actual implementation, numerous cases can and do happen where the proverbial baby is thrown out with the bathwater.
Navigating these waters can be difficult, and the important thing is to take action fast if there is a problem. Don’t wait until your account gets suspended. Google will also never tell you EXACTLY what you need to fix in order to keep advertising, but if you read over what Google is looking for in landing pages, look at the reasons for the policies, and proactively make changes to the site that make sense, you have a good chance at avoiding the potential unwinding of your online business. And of course if you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, don’t hesitate to call in the PPC management professionals. Like many other areas of life, an ounce of prevention early goes a long way and can save a lot of expense and pain later on if taken care of in its early stages.
Important Links on Google AdWords Policies: