I have been watching ongoing complaints from Google AdWords advertisers for the past five days or so, in regards to Google both banning and warning of banning advertisers for having “poor quality landing pages.”
I first reported about the issue on Sunday at the Search Engine Roundtable. There are a few SEM threads on this topic, but the largest one is at WebmasterWorld, currently at 160 posts long. Normally, when you see this much discussion around such a change in AdWords, it means Google made some type of change in their algorithms.
I decided to wait it out and ask Google to look into the issue. I figured, it had to be some type of bug, where the algorithm was tweaked a bit too strong against the landing page quality. Google first sent us a statement that read:
Google is constantly working to ensure that we’re showing ads to our users that are relevant, in accordance with our ad policies, and safe for users. To that end, we perform regular reviews, using both manual and automated processes, in order to detect and disable ads that violate our policies.
That didn’t sit right with me, so I pushed on and asked them to dig deeper into these complaints. AdWordsAdvisor, the official Google representative at WebmasterWorld, replied to the thread last night. Unfortunately, the reply isn’t what these advertisers wanted to see, nor what I wanted to see. Here is the reply:
The suspensions and final warnings that are referenced in this thread are due to account level actions taken against advertisers who’ve submitted multiple sites that violate our landing page quality guidelines. This is an existing policy to discourage repeat offenders by taking account level action. These final warnings and suspensions were only applied to sites with multiple violations which were manually reviewed to ensure that our policies were being applied correctly.
Certain kinds of websites (ref1) are not allowed per our policies because the user experience is of low quality or we consistently receive negative feedback from our users about these kinds of pages. These sites include:
* Data collection sites that offer the false promise of free items, etc., in order to collect private information.
* Arbitrage sites that are designed for the purpose of showing ads * Affiliates who provide limited value by being a bridge page with the intent of solely driving traffic to another site or who are framing an affiliate site * Malware sites that knowingly or unknowingly install software on a visitor’s computer
You can find more information on this topic in the AdWords help center, under Landing Page Quality (ref2) Landing page checks happen continuously, even after an ad has been approved, through both manual and automated methods. You can evaluate whether or not your site is in line with our landing page quality guidelines (ref3) If not, you can make the appropriate changes to your site or delete all ads that point to the low quality sites. Paused ads will still accrue violations against them.
We apply the same standards to all the sites that we check so violations are evaluated regardless of spend, keywords bids or history of the account.
Also note, some accounts have both allowed sites and not allowed sites. For these accounts, if you received a warning please remove the low quality sites from your account by deleting the ads pointing to these sites.
We constantly try to improve the quality of the ad experience which we believe helps both the consumer and advertiser when users can trust the quality of the site they reach when they click on an ad.
I have no proof of this, but I really feel Google is missing something. Google often has bugs in their systems, heck, Google just fixed a bug that told advertisers they had a “low share of voice” problem. With these many advertisers effected and many of them being really old-school, old time, advertisers – it just seems wrong that this comes down to some policy that has always been in place and always been enforced.