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Adwords antics

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Wednesday July 26, 2006 )

Have you accessed your Google Adwords account recently and found that your once stable listings are now tagged with “Inactive for search – Increase quality or bid $x.xx to activate”?

You’re certainly not alone. Some advertisers have reported that clicks they were paying 10 – 15 cents for now requiring a $10 minimum bid. So what’s happened? And how do you fix it?

This is a result of the Google Adwords “Quality Score” system, originally introduced in December 2005 and recently tightened up further.

Accord to the Adwords blog, it’s a applied to advertisers who do not provide what Google considers to be a useful landing page. It’s meant to motivate advertisers to increase the quality of their landing page, or to leave the Adwords arena.

The Quality Score system is also meant to rid Adwords of those involved with click arbitrage. This is where an advertiser purchases cheap clicks and the landing page is full of other PPC ads which attract higher click prices; generating revenue for the advertiser.

That’s all well and good, but it runs a little deeper than that.

A couple of advertisers have reported that after contacting Adwords representatives; they were informed of other issues that can contribute to this happening.

a) No dedicated privacy policy page
b) A lack of content on the site
c) No outbound links to other quality sites
d) No contact page

After rectifying the issues, they contacted Adwords for a review and their lower bid prices were restored. You can read a discussion of one such instance on WebMasterWorld – a very big thank you to Coldrum, the member who started off the thread; very kind of him/her to have relayed the information.

If your site addresses all of the above, yet you still found your Adwords account being hammered, it’s quite possible you’re the victim of collateral damage; something not unusual where algorithms are used to determine quality. It’s a horrid side effect of Google’s efforts to clean things up, which is definitely affecting some advertisers. Sometimes humans do it better :).

If this has happened to you and you are a thousand percent positive your site is squeaky clean and relevant to the keywords you’ve selected, contact AdWords. Be prepared for a wait and if they give you advice, follow it, don’t argue with them. Alternatively, spend your PPC cash elsewhere.

Regardless of whether it’s “fair” or not – just bear in mind what you are dealing with; a company with shareholders who doesn’t have an obligation to run your ads. Also, if you think that spending a couple of thousand dollars on Adwords a month will give your case priority or some increased flexibility, think again :). I know of some advertisers with 5 and 6 figure monthly budgets that are currently standing in line at Google, cap-in-hand.

Welcome to the future my friends; the total and utter corporatization (not commercialization) of the web, if you don’t have cash, you better have smarts; because there’s steamrollers coming from all directions now.


PPC advertising – minimizing the cost


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