The Mystery of the Google Adwords Slap Explained

The Mystery of the Google Adwords Slap Explained:

As many of you know, there are many unexplained aspects within Google Adwords. Google, makes it a point, to leave specific aspects of the system mysterious, leaving their advertisers to figure things out on their own. This is especially the case for affiliates. I have been using Google Adwords since 2001, and throughout my years, I have seen the Adwords program evolve drastically. Specifically, within the past 3 years, since the emergence of the almighty Quality Score, there are some specific aspects of Adwords that are still unexplainable. I have formed strong assumptions based on “What I think”, or “How exactly it works”. These assumptions were based off of my experience and countless hours of trial and error to form my conclusions. Still, there was always that random slap, quality score decrease, or ad variation denial that never made sense to me…. Until now….

I recently had a extremely indepth conversation with an Adwords representative about the Adwords program, and exactly how it works. This was a face to face conversation, during non work hours. I can confirm that many of my assumptions were dead on the money, while others were surprisingly off. The conversation lasted for well over an hour, and I can truly say, that I feel I learned more from that single conversation, then anyone in the industry could from years of trial and error. Below is some information provided to me directly from the rep. These are answers that many affiliates have been seeking for years, and can make all the difference for those of you who are not already banned or given up on Adwords.

1.) Google slaps are entirely automatic. I always assumed that there was automatic slaps and manual slaps. A manual slap is EXTREMELY rare. There are tens of thousands of publishers using Adwords daily, and hundreds of thousands ad variations. This makes it extremely hard for manual monitoring of campaigns, which is why it’s an automated process.

2.) So what are the main reasons a site gets slapped if it’s done automatically? A slap, is a complex equation that takes a variety of campaign and account variables into consideration. Some of the main variables are:
a.) Duplicate content – This is the reason most affiliates get slapped. This is because there are so many other affiliates copying landing pages from each other. Duplicate content is not just limited to sites using Adwords, rather, it includes ALL websites indexed in Google search. Even when someone copies your own landing page, both parties are penalized. Content exceeding over a certain percentage of duplicate material is almost always an instant slap.
b.) Account History – This includes account age, and account spend. $50,000+ spend has extra weight.
c.) Rebill offers – Slaps weight more heavily on specific niches notorious for consumer complaints. Specifically weight loss and teeth whitening. Google will monitor for keywords and weigh against your campaign for rebill type words, such as “Free Trial” and “Acai berry”
d.) Severity of previous slaps – Google does not only take into account how many times your account has been slapped before, but also the severity of each slap. For instance, a slap from duplicate content does not weigh as heavily as a slap from a rebill teeth whitening campaign that has been reposted and slapped 5 times already.
e.) Content is king! The more content you have, the more it waters down the algorithm. Meaning, if they are looking for specific faulty words, and then placing a value to that word based on the comparison of total words on the site, the more words the better! This is why I always recommend to the people I mentor to get 20-30 unique articles minimum for your landing pages.

3.) How often does Google do these automatic checks? Every single time Google updates their algorithm, it automatically recrawls ALL of the sites on the Adwords system, whether they are paused or active. So this means that between the time of the last algorithm crawl, if there was another affiliate who copied your landing page, you will get slapped. Additionally, their updated variable could spin your site’s slap score in an entirely different direction, for better or worse.

4.) So how often does Google update their algorithm? Basically, it is unpredictable. It could be 2 months, it could be 2 days. It’s sporadic based on when the guys in charge change the algorithm. I will say from experience, it seems to be around every 2 weeks.

5.) Having the keyword in your domain name is huge! This is especially the case for assigning a high quality score. It’s good practice to have your targeted niche keyword once in the ad variation title, once in the ad variation body, and once in the ad variation display URL.

6.) Always keep your ad groups under 25 keywords. Over 25 keywords in an ad group can KILL your quality score. The quality score is as much about how you group your keywords as it is with the content of your page.

7.) And Finally…. what’s the deal on all the random bans? The mass amounts of Google Bans that occurred during November and December were automated. These bans looked at severity of prior slaps, duplicate content frequency, and if your promoted a questionable offer. Being said, the automated banning method completely screwed some undeserving advertisers over. Google will not give out much info as to why a specific account has been banned, and if you are one of the unfortunate ones, there is nothing you can really do. Moral of the story – don’t promote rebills on Google!

I have much more info that I plan to write in the Bevo Classroom, however that’s all I’ll blog about for now. I hope this cleared up some confusion from the affiliate side of things. If you guys need any further explaining about what was wrote, let me know and I’ll try to explain the best I can! :)

-RB

Comments

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[...] So many erroneous assumptions and conspiracy theories make the rounds when it comes to trying to explain the reasons behind the mysterious Google Adwords slap. Below is information that Ryan Buke was able to get direct from an Adwords rep. If you use Adwords or plan to, it’s definitely worth the read. The Mystery of the Google Adwords Slap Explained [...]

Good rundown & nice to see a couple suspicions confirmed.

By “watering down the content,” do you mean the algo could look for a term “colon cleanse” so your other 20-30 articles may not want to target that term or just the sheer volume of content affects it.

Am a bit confused, because if a colon cleanse site (just an example I’m pulling out of the air) is about that subject then almost every article would probably mention it in some form.

February 12th, 2010
12:37 pm

Good post, easily the most informative one I’ve read on the google slap topic. Based on my ‘slap happy’ experiences with Google this is very helpful info, thanks for posting!

February 12th, 2010
5:44 pm

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February 12th, 2010
6:31 pm

Good shit, Ryan. Love the site design.

February 12th, 2010
6:46 pm

thanks guys! :)

February 12th, 2010
6:57 pm

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Great post. Really important stuff to know when you do PPC. Makes future campaign planning and design better able to make a few bucks if you do it right. Free offer rebills were bound to end up on the heap. Thanks for the info.

February 14th, 2010
1:02 pm

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February 15th, 2010
4:36 pm

Sucks that we get penalized for competitors ripping our material.

February 16th, 2010
5:04 am

Thanks for the info. I had heard a lot about the “slap” but couldn’t find any solid reasoning behind it before I came across your site. Great post!

February 16th, 2010
4:56 pm

Wow, so now we know how to ruin our competition on adwords, just setup tons of linkwheels but using the content from the competitors landing page.

Rj
February 16th, 2010
11:13 pm

DUDE! This is great stuff, honestly you are one of the few bloggers who actually post good content. Good work man!

R~J~S
February 16th, 2010
11:20 pm

@RJ – The keyword density needs to be over a certain % for it to be counted as duplicate content. Popular plagiarism sites consider a keyword density of 30%+ “duplicate content” so I would assume Google’s number is around the same.

However, remember they only check when they update their algorithm. So smart affiliates should change their content every week. After i found this out, that’s what i started to do, and not only was I not getting slapped, but my quality scores were even getting STRONGER. This is the reason why you should find one really good content writer, use them often and pay them well!

February 16th, 2010
11:26 pm

@Matt –
From my understanding, they may group the keywords such as “colon cleansing” and “trial” etc. This is just as assumption based on how i perceived it. I do know there are legit colon sites up there with out much of a problem, so this leads me to think that as it may weigh against you, this variable isn’t as much of a killer as duplicate content is. Keep in mind those notorious niches also weighs against your competition.

Just as good measure, don’t throw around the word “FREE TRIAL” a million times. Perhaps something more along the lines of “At No Cost”, “Risk Free” etc.

-RB

February 16th, 2010
11:42 pm

Awesome info Ryan. QS has always been a problem for me. Above you stated that you should change your content every week, do you mean switching content out or adding new content along with keeping the current content?

I have been experimenting with blogs and have heard that they please Google the most. What do you recommend?

Lastly, do you know if running email/zip submits or having an iframe is frowned upon by google? I have heard people getting banned for doing these.

Thanks,
Ian

Ian
February 17th, 2010
1:43 pm

Ryan, great information! Thank you for sharing. Question, on #6, you said “Always keep your ad groups under 25 keywords”. Does this include match-types? In other words, if I have 10 keywords and bid on all three match types, will that Ad Group be counted as 30 KW or still 10 KW?

Thanks!
Gary

February 17th, 2010
2:19 pm

I found your article very interesting, especially after being a victim of this Adwords banning (as they put it: “your URL has been banned from Adwords for life”). So that brings up my question and point…

You mention in this article that this is mostly automated, so the question is can you ever get unbanned? I assume that once your reach this banning point, your URL goes onto a list and that is YOUR algorithm (basically, don’t allow advertising, period).

And after I read your suggestions, I do feel that things like content, duplicate content, history, etc. were not reasons for my banning. I agree that promoting negative option offers are bad, but in my case, being an affiliate in a home biz space itself may have been enough to get my ban.

Whatever the case, it is still a mystery to me and I’ve learned to not rely on Adwords for a majority of my traffic, but I think your points and comments are right now! cheers…matt

February 17th, 2010
3:15 pm

@Ian – When i switch out my content, i replace all of it. Basically – i show my content writer the page and tell them to say the same thing, in a different way, then i go and make my nitpick adjustments. I will note that most often people just copy your MAIN page, I never really rewrite my articles.

Google in general hates email submits. I would recommend Yahoo for something like that. As for IFraming, not only is it frowned upon, but some offers tracking incorrectly with IFrames.

-Ryan

February 17th, 2010
8:39 pm

@Gary – Match types are considered different words in the eyes of Google. For example “weight loss” phrase is not the same as [weight loss] exact.

Now remember the reasoning behind this – the REAL reason why it’s good to keep you adgroups under 25 words is because all words in that ad group can effect eachother. So the more kws you have in an adgroup, the more likely there is an under performing keyword and it negatively effects your well performing keywords. So yea, you can have 30, but its not recommended.

For match types – what I normally do is develop my KW list, then seperate adgroups into match types. Ex: Broad1, Phrase1, Exact1 as my adgroups. It works like a charm. I also know alot of people like to have a new adgroup for each keyword with its match type. So [Weightloss] “weightloss” and weightloss would 1 adgroup.

-Ryan

February 17th, 2010
8:47 pm

@Matthew – The whole reason Google started banning masss affiliates in the first place was because of Bizopps :)

February 17th, 2010
8:49 pm

Awesome write-up!

One thing that stuck out to me is the whole “we’ll slap BOTH of you if somebody steals your content”. Doesn’t seem fair? Think it’s because they cant tell who the originators are?

I guess if you want to take your competitors out this way, you only put your account in danger. Still, I wonder what the best plans of defense are? LPLockdown?

Garrett
February 18th, 2010
9:36 pm

What do you mean by have 20-30 articles? All on the same one page lander, or links to articles?

M
February 20th, 2010
1:31 pm

Great article, thank you. You mentioned that you do mentoring in your article, can you tell us more about that? How would I become a student?

February 20th, 2010
2:53 pm

@Garrett – There really isnt a defense. Basically, theres no need to worry about it unless you actually hit your campaign to the point where people will actually start trying to jack your lander. When you get to that point, make it a point to adjust ~60-70% of your content every other week. Try to adjust the content below the fold to keep the unchanged 30% above the fold.

February 20th, 2010
7:55 pm

@M – The articles will be on an “Articles” link in the footer of the landing page. Along with links to “Site Map” “Contact Us” “Privacy Policy” etc.

February 20th, 2010
8:02 pm

@PPC Icon – email me ryan@bevomedia.com or shoot me an IM on AIM BevoRyan – I’ll explain more details.

February 20th, 2010
8:03 pm

so does google hate all rebills? i recently seen a dating product that offers free audio training and the customer is then rebilled,if i promoted this offer with a blog and don’t mention the word ‘free trial’ do you think they would slapp my site for promoting this offer?

ben
February 22nd, 2010
7:15 pm

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February 28th, 2010
8:42 am

@ben – If it isnt a notorious scamming niche or offer and DOESNT say free trial everywhere, you should be fine. Like i said, avoid scammy terminology.

March 1st, 2010
2:43 pm

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Hi Ryan – My account with Adwords was just banned… got the following nasty message from Google:

“We are writing to let you know that your Google AdWords account has been
disabled due to multiple violations of our advertising policies, including
violations after final warning, related to Landing Page and Site Quality.”

As stated in your post, I am one of the ‘unfortunate ones’ as I actually had my campaigns paused when I got banned as my landing page was still under construction, lol.

I still want to advertise on Adwords but now I’m VERY worried about what has happened….

What can I do to overcome this penalty so that Google sees me as a complete newcomer? Create a new account with a brand new name and use a different URL? Does it matter if my domain is on the same hosting account with the same IP and all that jazz as the domain that was penalized?

Thank you for your help RB!

Awesome stuff!

All the best,
Todd

August 12th, 2010
2:11 pm

Sorry, forgot to add that Google also said this in their email …

“As a result, your ads will no longer run though the Google AdWords system
and we are unable to accept advertising from you in the future. Please
note that future AdWords accounts you open will also be disabled.”

This is what I’m trying to overcome…anyway around this or am I screwed?

-Todd

August 12th, 2010
2:13 pm

Todd,

Your best bet at this point is getting an account under a friends name. Are you promoting shady rebills? There are still rebills on google, it just that you need to have a solid cloaking solution to “beat the system”. I can’t officially condone this type of marketing however :)

If you arent promoting a rebill, or ringtones, then cloaking is prob not a necessity.

Hope that helps

Ryan

August 12th, 2010
11:14 pm

It took me a long time to search online, only your site unfold the fully details, bookmarked and thanks again.

- Kris

October 20th, 2010
10:16 pm

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