How to Avoid Being Google Slapped

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If you’re an AdWords advertiser, chances are you’ve heard the expression “Google slap.” Maybe you’ve even known someone who has been Google slapped or you’ve been Google slapped yourself.

A Google slap can mean one of two things:

  1. Google has deemed your ad and associated landing pages of such poor quality it has significantly lowered your ad’s position in search engine results. This means you have to pay much more for your ad to appear at the position you’d like.
  2. Google has deemed your ad and associated landing pages of such poor quality it has disabled your AdWords account.

Clearly, both of these scenarios are undesirable. So it’s up to you to make sure your pay-per-click campaign doesn’t get Google slapped in the first place.

Here are 10 ways to make sure that Google doesn’t “slap” your account:

  1. Make sure your keywords are in your ad. If your keywords aren’t in your ad text, then users will be less likely to click your ad, because your ad won’t seem relevant to the query they entered into Google. This mistake will negatively impact your click-through rate (CTR), conveying to Google that you aren’t giving users what they want. You will thus be punished.
  2. Make sure your landing page is optimized. This includes putting your keywords in your headline, body copy and meta tags; simplifying your page’s message and design; and adding clear calls to action. If your page doesn’t appear relevant, straightforward, or easy-to-read, users will jet before converting. This hurts your profits, as well as your page’s value in Google’s eyes. Be proactive with your landing pages by trying out Google’s website optimizer.
  3. Improve your landing page’s loading time. Google penalizes AdWords advertisers whose landing pages take a long time to load. That’s because the load delay is an inconvenience for users. When people have to wait more than a few seconds to see a page they often just navigate away from that page. You can reduce the size of your page by compressing your images, eliminating popup ads, and doing away with videos that play automatically.
  4. Make sure your landing page is safe for users. In other words, make sure that it isn’t sending viruses to users’ computers. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you may be sending out viruses without even realizing it. Maybe the software you’re offering actually harms computers using a particular Internet browser, or someone hacked your account overnight. Test your landing pages frequently, and with different browsers, to ensure they are secure.
  5. Make sure your landing page is not misleading. If your landing page states that a particular download or service is free, make sure that’s truly the case. If you are lying to customers then Google will undoubtedly shut down your AdWords account. This is especially the case now that the Federal Trade Commission has approved final revisions to the guidance it gives advertisers.
  6. Don’t make unrealistic promises about your product or service. The FTC also condemns this practice, and Google is well aware. If your landing page suggests that your hair gels will make hair grow six inches per month, you are making an unrealistic promise. Those who buy your products will clearly be disappointed, and it will hurt Google’s credibility (not to mention your own). Google doesn’t want that to happen, so it will disable your AdWords account as early as possible.
  7. Have your landing page be part of a comprehensive website. The more pages you have on your website, and the more informational, up-to-date, and unique their content, the higher your landing pages and associated ads will be regarded by Google. A robust website indicates that you are offering users something of value, and aren’t just about getting rich quick. Possible website elements include a blog, educational videos, and user forums.
  8. Don’t include too many links on your landing pages. This encompasses links to other pages within your site as well as links to other websites. If you give visitors too many options of places to go, they’ll either become overwhelmed and leave the page or click on one of the links and leave the page. Either way, you are jeopardizing your chance to convert.
  9. Avoid reciprocal, broken, and low-quality links. Make sure that any links on your landing page are there to help the user. That means don’t just link to specific websites because they’ve agreed to link to your site. It also means make sure the links actually go to the desired destination, and that the other sites actually provide users something of value.
  10. Reconsider your keywords. Make sure that the keywords you’ve chosen accurately describe your offering. If they don’t, users won’t click on your ad or convert. When users neglect your offering this indicates to Google that it isn’t relevant to what they are seeking. Before Google punishes you for this error, think about what keywords more accurately portray your product or service. Consider using a tool to discover long tail keywords for this effort, and then bid on the new keywords.
Larry Kim

Larry Kim

CTO and Founder at WordStream
Larry Kim founded WordStream in 2007. Today he serves as company CTO and is a contributor to both the product team and marketing teams. Larry... Read Full Bio
Larry Kim
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  • Andy Kuiper – SEO Vancouver

    Good advice Larry – thanks 🙂
    However, I'd add “don't be an affiliate marketer” as G will inevitably close you down… forever. Trust me, there are thousands of instances of this very thing happening. Readers, please don't write me off as a G basher, I'm not — but affiliate marketing on adwords is often a recipe for disaster.

  • Linknami

    The best way to avoid a google slapping is following their webmaster guidelines 😉
    Also there shouldn't be a problem marketing affiliate programs, but your site needs to offer information of value to its website visitors that makes them actually return again and not obvious made-for-adsense sites.

    • Mike

      In my knowledge most case which i have seen are of “affiliate programs” sites which send traffic to third parties having not much to offer its users……..they need to put nice sites with text and still they can sent traffic or product sale to third party sites without being penalized

      • Andykuiper

        Do a Google search “adwords suspended affiliates” and read about the kinds of accounts they closed. Yes, there were some poor quality affiliate sites closed (and I was happy to see them go). However I'm aware of many $1,000,000,000+ accounts closed. I've spent over 500k of my own money on various adwords campaigns and know many big account holders on adwords. As well, I know several heavy hitters who were banned for no reason other than being affiliates. Check WebMasterWorld for some first hand accounting of the history of this subject. My advice to affiliates is to be very 'aware' prior to making any big decisions when it comes to advertising with G.

    • Andykuiper

      You are absolutely correct “The best way to avoid a google slapping is following their webmaster guidelines”
      However, I wasn't speaking about MFA sites – I was speaking about quality affiliate sites, many who've been banned from G for no violation of TOS — those intimately involved in the large spend adwords realm know all about the affiliate purges of 09 and early 10… it's no secret.

  • Edge

    very useful tips and tricks. without any keywords on landing pages or useful info, google will slap advister.

  • baby soothers

    I am using Google ad-words to advertise some products that i am selling but it seems that i am always having to pay a minimum bid.thanks.

  • Tech Maish

    I am new to Adword, these tips are really useful for me. I have created a well customized landing page.

  • baby soothers

    How can i avoid the Google slap?

  • Kavin Paulson

    Hi Larry, Good Points, Informative post!. I agree with you on the points about Landing page. Because Landing page makes a lot of difference in converting the visitors to leads and ultimately customers.

  • Lou

    Good stuff Larry. Definitely a guide to follow to avoid the slap.

  • Gammelldean

    Improve your landing page’s loading time – what you said about the visitor is not true, the reason google wants quick loading pages because it means they can index more pages every day, as it is google idexes millions of pages a day so if the load speed is increased it will be able to index even more ever day giving more up to date information. everything else in your post was good and true though

    • Andy Kuiper – SEO Vancouver

      You're both right. However adwords was suggesting fast loading landing pages well before Matt Cutt's 09 announcement about the algo's new attention to load time (to help speed up the web, limit G's storage/bandwidth issues and to make for a better user experience)… so I think Larry is spot on with his advice to speed up landing page load times.

  • Better Business ROI

    I concur with you about the relevance of the landing page. It amazes me that people think they can still get away with misleading ads and landing pages that are not even close.

  • adnan

    I am also new to ad-words. This posy really helpful for me.

  • Asefati

    Great post I even linked it to from my blog. However I must admit, the type of industry matters too. For example in the lending industry, if you are looking for a loan, a lot of websites that are affiliates end up popping out and they are often not very content rich and just have landing page and ads that offer false promises but somehow they do better than some of my clients that are direct lenders.

  • Best dating

    Hiya from Latvia ! I have found your post on askjeeves. Interesting content !

  • ASP .NET Development

    really amazing information related to landing pages.

  • Isabelle Rv

    I really liked this post. Very informative in a constructive way and so very helpful. Thank you

  • Victor

    Andy is absolutely right. Sometimes as affiliates, you may not be outright banned, but you will see that every campaign starts to dwindle in traffic after a day or two until it basically stops.