23 Oct 2009

Google Slap….Fact or Fiction?

October 23, 2009PPC Advertising



Google Slap….Fact or Fiction?
Google Slap, or more accurately, AdWords Slap is indeed a fact. There are several different definitions of what actually constitutes Google Slap.
Most just use that term for poor quality scores, primarily caused by poor landing pages..but for this article I am using a more focused definition — when your quality scores are affected at Google’s discretion, not by the usual combination of keyword, CTR, and landing page quality.
Maybe we should call this the Google Punch! 
I have two real life examples of  the ‘Google Punch’ that I have experienced in the last few months here at Site Pro Specialties.
The first is a client that wanted to place AdWords search ads for products such as Tooth Whitener, Diet Supplements, etc.  
No matter what they did with their landing page, including adding relevant content, more pages, etc…their quality scores rarely , if ever, exceeded 5.   
Why? I contacted my rep at Google and learned, unofficially of course, that there are just some products that are frowned about by the folks at Google. At least the folks that determine what kind of experience that Google Search users should have. They don’t feel that searchers have good experiences with those products, so they put a ceiling on how high the quality scores can go…period.  
In highly competitive markets…and what market isn’t competitive these days…..that will pretty much put you out of business.   We tried to advocate for them, but in the end we were only marginally successful.   They continued to advertise a few products, but gave up on the majority of them. 
In the second example, things for our client started out much worse, but worked out in the end.
Our client in this example advertised discount coupons for a computer manufacturer.   He had been doing that for a few years and his keywords quality scores ranged from 7 to 10. For those that don’t know, 10 is as high a score as there is. It implies all is well with your keyword, ad, and landing page combination.
One day he noticed that he was no longer getting any clicks. None. Normally he would get over 100/day.
He happened to be working with Vertical Measures on SEO, and they suggested that he give me a call.
I looked at his account and noticed that all of his quality scores were 1….!!! Not 4, not even 3, but 1. Wow he must be really guilty of some really heinous Google crime….the AdWords equivalent of Dr. Evil.
But no, actually all he did was two things….one a simple mistake.   The other was simply falling into a group or class of websites.
The mistake he made was something any of us could have done — He wanted to add some negative keywords to his campaign. By accident, he added them to the regular keywords instead. That started a bad chain of events that eventually led to the quality scores effectively putting him out of business.
Although it can’t be verified, here is what I suspect happened:
  •  The keywords he wanted to use as negative keywords , but used as actual keywords triggered a Google audit for whatever reason, either high volume, low quality score, adult content, etc.

  •   During the review process the review board examined his site.

  •  That review board decided that his site fit the model of site that essentially routed traffic somewhere else after one click. Google feels that that type of site typically results in a bad experience and they want to effectively prevent those types of sites from advertising on AdWords search.

  • The editorial board then manually put a limit (of 1) on the sites quality scores, at least for that campaign. Boom, out of business.
Fortunately, in this particular example things worked out for the customer. I was able to convince my Google AdWords rep to lobby on this clients behalf and had the artificial quality score penalty removed. He is now back operating like normal. 
So the Google slap is indeed a fact and it can effectively spell the end of your business or campaign…be careful!!!



1 Comment

  • Saptarshi Oct 25, 2009

    I have heard of Google slap before but never knew such intricate details, in fact have often ignored it to be “just another rumour about Big G” – thanks for sharing these details.