Update: Is Google Cracking Down On Tool Makers Using Its AdWords API? No More Than Usual, Says The Company

google-adwords-square-logoIn the last couple of weeks, two well-known search tool providers — Raven and SEOmoz — have had their access to the AdWords API revoked, with little public explanation, as was reported by Kahena Digital Marketing. But Google denies that this is a “crackdown” or widespread enforcement activity, saying it’s all in a day’s work of ensuring compliance with the terms of service for its API.

Here’s the official statement from a Google spokesperson:

“We regularly audit developers to make sure they comply with the terms of our AdWords API so that AdWords customers get the best experience when they use third-party applications.”

Back in September of last year, Google initiated a widespread review that resulted in hundreds of developers having their AdWords API access revoked, though some began to have access granted again after jumping through certain verification hoops.

It’s quite mysterious what Raven or SEOmoz might be doing (or not doing) in violation of the terms of service, as neither organization would disclose what Google’s issues might be. Nor would Google spill the beans.

“We would like to tell you more, but it wouldn’t be appropriate,” wrote Raven communications director Arienne Holland in a blog post. “What we can tell you is that Raven is committed to providing data from Google, and we’re continuing the conversation with the AdWords team.”

And SEOmoz product manager Tela Andrews wrote, “Google hasn’t given us specific feedback on features that led to our credentials being removed. Without specific guidance, we would rather focus our efforts on getting replacement data from other sources.”

The API access revocation only applies to AdWords, and not any other Google APIs used by the tool providers, such as from Google Analytics or Google Webmaster Tools. Both Raven and SEOmoz said they were investigating other data providers to replace at least some of the information they’d previously gotten from the AdWords API.

UPDATE: As of Wednesday, November 28, Raven has returned the AdWords API data and functionality to its software, saying ongoing discussions led the Google team to extend the company’s access through late December.

“We are still working with them to extend our access long term, and we’re confident those conversations will be productive,” wrote Raven’s Jon Henshaw in a blog post today.

Related Topics: Channel: SEM | Google: AdWords | Google: APIs


About The Author: is Executive Features Editor at Search Engine Land and Marketing Land. She’s a well-respected authority on digital marketing, having reported and written on the subject since 1998.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


Get all the top search stories emailed daily!  


Other ways to share:

Read before commenting! We welcome constructive comments and allow any that meet our common sense criteria. This means being respectful and polite to others. It means providing helpful information that contributes to a story or discussion. It means leaving links only that substantially add further to a discussion. Comments using foul language, being disrespectful to others or otherwise violating what we believe are common sense standards of discussion will be deleted. Comments may also be removed if they are posted from anonymous accounts. You can read more about our comments policy here.
  • http://twitter.com/PhilCaines Phil Caines

    This is a strange trend. The only thing I can think about is that Raventools and SEOmoz were affecting some revenue stream of Google’s so they were shut down. I believe that both technologies were reporting-only API clients, which means that they had less requirements for their functionality. It couldn’t be a volume issue, as each technology paid for usage based on Google’s rates: https://developers.google.com/adwords/api/docs/ratesheet

    If I had to guess, I would assume that Google is working on a paid Internet Marketing platform, which would be a competitor of both platforms. What do you think?

  • Alan

    I love a good conspiracy theory. Rand allowed his blog to be hijacked by dejanseo which left Google with egg on it’s face. I wonder if this a bit of a backlash. Yes Raven were included in this but Google is run by smart people who know just banning SEOMoz would have looked bad.

  • http://twitter.com/robkerry Rob Kerry

    Google T&Cs don’t allow you to just query keyword data, your app has to be a full PPC management app. If keyword API requests are significantly higher than requests to create/pause AdWords campaigns/keywords, it gets flagged up and reviewed.

  • http://twitter.com/AriNahmani Ari Nahmani

    I think it had to do with a bit of what you are saying (despite Raven having the *ability* to manage paid campaigns, I’m sure 95% of its API calls were keyword API requests). But also consider the fact that Raven / SEOMoz are *profiting* on the use of the API… I think this may be the crutch of it. Granted, this isn’t the only reason people sign up – but I’m quite certain that this also had a big part of it….

  • http://www.facebook.com/prad.ray Prad Ray

    What doesnt make sense if these are two of the most consumer loved tools on the market, so Googles reasons for cutting them off: “AdWords customers get the best experience when they use third-party applications.” make no sense at all.

  • http://www.facebook.com/prad.ray Prad Ray

    What doesnt make sense is that these are two of the most consumer loved tools on the market, so Googles reasons for cutting them off: “AdWords customers get the best experience when they use third-party applications.” make no sense at all.

  • http://twitter.com/Darren_Moloney Darren Moloney

    2 highly trusted resources that have probably done more to help with promoting Google’s products than any other SEO tools provider out there. If Google is planning its own tool then it’s hardly keeping a level playing field for everyone… I suspect this behaviour by Google to be viewed on a par with the “Not Provided” fiasco they’ve created.

  • http://twitter.com/K_J_Designs Keith James Designs

    I’m assuming both Raven and SEOmoz required it’s users to login using their AdWords credentials. I thought once you used your actual Google credentials that the software just used the individuals credential to make the API call. Is this not the way the software works?
    I have been using Google’s keyword tool lately just because the other software (not Raven or SEOmoz) I use for analysis is just too slow. I was thinking about changing to another service but now I’ll just let the dust settle until it is sorted out.

  • http://www.workwithclintbutler.com/ Clint A. Butler

    Its all about ad revenue. If they can keep you on their systems and not on a third party site they have the upper hand when it comes to marketing to you. Also, they probably feel that if your using the actual AdWords tool your more likely to buy ad space from them. Its a free service, the Adwords API, and I am sure that the SEOMoz and Raven folks can make something better anyway.

  • http://twitter.com/YoungbloodJoe Joe Youngblood

    Phil, If you’re right that would really get the anti-trust folks drooling.

Get Our News, Everywhere!

Daily Email:

Follow Search Engine Land on Twitter @sengineland Like Search Engine Land on Facebook Follow Search Engine Land on Google+ Get the Search Engine Land Feed Connect with Search Engine Land on LinkedIn Check out our Tumblr! See us on Pinterest


Click to watch SMX conference video

Join us at one of our SMX or MarTech events:

United States


Australia & China

Learn more about: SMX | MarTech

Free Daily Search News Recap!

SearchCap is a once-per-day newsletter update - sign up below and get the news delivered to you!



Search Engine Land Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors

Get Your Copy
Read The Full SEO Guide