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:
- 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.
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.