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AdWords + AdSense and Click Arbitrage

AdWords + AdSense and Click Arbitrage

When I first read this AdWords and AdSense post from the Inside AdWords blog, I was dumbfounded. They are against click arbitrage and have been fighting it outwardly since 2006. So why after 5 years are they seemingly advocating it?

Simple, they aren’t.

This is one of those instances where Google seems to go against their own advice and risks enraging advertisers and affiliates, especially those people that lost their (really freaking easy) income with the change to the AdWords system. See what I did there? I used the words “seems to” and that is what Google is doing here. They aren’t saying click arbitrage is okay now, but rather using the idea in conjunction with their current best practice guidelines. MFA (made for AdSense) sites are still not going to go far in the AdWords system.

In English that means they are advocating the use of AdSense on good landing pages and after the user converts for your product. The team at AdWords knows that a good CTR is still 3-5% and conversions are still a percentage of that. Why not try to make some money off the traffic you just paid for in the case that you don’t get a conversion?

Google is suggesting that ads placed at the bottom of your landing page or at the end of the conversion process can give you a nice chunk of change if done right. Banking on traffic you already paid for? Sure! This could be awesome for advertisers, but keep these tips in mind if you do choose to place AdSense on your AdWords landing page or within the conversion process.

1. Keep the focus on your content and conversion funnel

You are purchasing traffic for a reason, to build your own bottom line, to sell your product or service. Do not change that focus. Your landing page should focus on answering the end user’s questions and give them a solution. It will need a clear easy call to action above the fold. Never give that up in hopes of advertising revenue.

2. Landing page quality is still an issue

Google is not slackening on the quality score, your pages still need to be highly relevant to the query and ad that sends traffic. If you ad external content, it could possibly mess with that awesome QS 9 you have going on. Be sure to keep an eye on your quality score if you decide to implement AdSense on your landing pages. Always be testing and tracking. Make sure that this isn’t hurting your main bottom line. It should just be adding to relevance and filling in the holes rather than making new ones.

3. Beware of cannibalization

Do you advertise on the content network? Do any of your other sites do the same? Beware cannibalization, or taking traffic from property to help another. Make sure that you have settings in your content network ads that ban advertising on any of your other sites. Unless it makes sense for the end user, you are the best person to know if it might work for you. Remember these are guidelines and not hard and fast rules.

4. Watch for competitors ads

In the same light, be sure you aren’t helping competitors by buying good traffic and then sending it to their site for less money. Just think, you spent all that time and money to get a good quality score, perfect your landing page, and all. Then you get a click for $2.31 in which the user sees an ad for a lower priced, but poorer quality competitor, and they get the sell for a cost of only $0.57. You just gave your competitors money!

In that light, be sure you set parameters that do not allow your competitors ads to show up on your site at all.

5. Watch Exploitation – you will get caught eventually

If this all ends up going really well, you place ads on your thank you page, and are raking in the money from AdSense, fight the urge to exploit the system in any way. Ask any number of affiliates that had their accounts banned from using AdWords, Google will eventually find the loophole. If you find one, assume that it will be plugged soon and you risk an account ban if you are caught. Could you make tons of money in the mean time? Maybe. But if you are a brand, you don’t want to risk banning your company credit card, Google accounts, etc.

Category SEO
Kate Morris Distilled Consulting

Kate Morris is an SEO Consultant for Distilled Consulting in Seattle, WA. You can find her on twitter @katemorris.

AdWords + AdSense and Click Arbitrage

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