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  1. #1
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    AdWords "site disabled" for "Site Policy"
    I've just received a bizarre email from Google AdWords, indicating that

    We have reviewed your account and found that one or more of your sites is in violation of our Landing Page and Site Policies.

    Customer ID: XXX-XX-XXXX

    Visible URL(s): xxxxxxx.com

    Please note that when a site is found to be in violation of our Landing
    Page and Site Policies, the site is disabled within your AdWords account
    and respective ads are disapproved for "Site Policy." Disabling is an
    action applied at the domain level, and it results in a low landing page
    quality score and termination of ad traffic. If multiple ad groups have
    landing pages with the same disabled domain, the keywords in those ad
    groups will have identical landing page quality scores as well.
    Unfortunately, the email doesn't hint about what "Site Policy" might have been violated, and doesn't identify any unique landing pages or keywords -- and when I log into the AdWords account, there are no messages, and there are no "disapproved ads." In fact, apart from the email, the only indication that there is any problem is the fact that the account has only 57 impressions and 2 clicks today. Since traffic to the account has stopped, I assume this isn't a forgery, but I can't identify anything wrong, nor can I find anything in the account to suggest what the problem is.

    All the keywords in my account are now flagged with Quality Score of 1, and the message "Rarely shown due to low quality score."

    However, my site's pages continue to appear in the same favorable position in Google's organic search results.

    I tried calling, but of course this account hasn't had enough traffic to merit phone support, so all calls are bounced. I submitted their "contact form" but from experience I know I'll get a boilerplate response from someone in India, so I'm offline until at least next week.

    I also tried editing my ads, but I get a message that "another user is editing the account" so I assume the account is locked against editing until Google's staff clears it.

    All my Google AdWords accounts were completely inactive in 2010, until I began testing in late December; my preliminary testing only accrued about $90 in PPC spending over the past month. I was seeing very good results, and was planning to ramp up my spending next week.

    Does anyone know where I might turn to figure out what is "wrong"? Is there some new, hidden tab or report that I should track down?

    I'm certainly not aware of any reason why this account, or any keyword or landing page, would be considered to be "in violation" of any Google policy.

    Bottom line: my PPC testing for this account has ended, and I can't conceive of any plausible way to resume PPC testing, since there is no way I'll ever be able to communicate with a Real Human at Google AdWords support.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 21st, 2011 at 02:02 PM.

  2. #2
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    I'm still tearing my hair out on this.

    I keep looking at my account, at the keywords, at the ads, at the landing pages. I've tried to play "devil's advocate," and thought, hey, assume I'm a competitor, or someone who's really critical of search results -- what could possibly be an objection here?

    I can't come up with anything. Google has blacklisted me. I just need to accept that: I can't do this any more. I don't know what I'm doing, apparently.

  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch View Post
    Bottom line: my PPC testing for this account has ended, and I can't conceive of any plausible way to resume PPC testing, since there is no way I'll ever be able to communicate with a Real Human at Google AdWords support.
    This is the adwords support phone number: 1-866-2-GOOGLE

    If you can get through to a human, be prepared to argue why your site has value and deserves to continue advertising in adwords. The site you are advertising has probably been flagged as a bridge page:

    Bridge Page - AdWords Help

    I think they have an automated algorithm that tries to detect thin affiliate sites. This might be augmented by a very low paid worker that scans your site in 30 seconds and makes a call, I dunno.

    Google wants only advertisers that provide enhanced value to searchers. In many ways, you compete with Google properties like "Google Product Search". So now-a-days you have to be prepared to argue what you provide that Google Product Search doesn't.

    Good Luck
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  4. #4
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    Thanks -- I had already tried calling Google AdWords -- but the phone system requires that you enter your AdWords account number, and when I enter my account numbers, it says I'm not entitled to phone support.

    What galls me is that they won't even tell me what policy they claim was violated. If they said "Affiliate Bridge," then I could focus on that issue. (Of course, I considered that possibility, but even when I bend over backwards, I don't see how any of my landing pages would violate that policy -- and so I'm struggling to parse every single policy I can identify, even without a clear list of policies that might apply.)

    My suspicion is that Google's algorithm is penalizing me not for violating its policies, but for obeying them (clearly tagging affiliate links with "nofollow" plus "Paid_Ad" tags). I also suspect that Google may be penalizing me because I replaced non-performing Google AdSense ads with Amazon ads, on these pages.

    Remember when Google's slogan was "We're Not Evil"? A long, long time ago.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 21st, 2011 at 03:01 PM.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch View Post
    Thanks -- I had already tried calling Google AdWords -- but the phone system requires that you enter your AdWords account number, and when I enter my account numbers, it says I'm not entitled to phone support.
    Yes, it is set by account spend. I use my client center account number, which has more spend associated with it than any of the individual accounts.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  6. #6
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    "All the keywords in my account are now flagged with Quality Score of 1, and the message "Rarely shown due to low quality score."

    Looks like you got Google Slapped. I have 0 clicks coming from them myself nowadays and if you're an affiliate and haven't been slapped yet, it's coming. I even had a new site I tried last year, went 10 months, then zapped a couple of months ago.
    Last edited by Trust; January 21st, 2011 at 03:33 PM.

  7. #7
    ABW Ambassador isellstuff's Avatar
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    I think that you have to be focused on value for the end user at all times and also focus on unique and valuable content.

    I like to focus on marketing and making a buck, but I'm learning that if I don't add unique differentiators frequently, I will suffer the consequences.

    I'm beginning to think of it like this... If you can't come up with content for a press release, touting the greatness of your website. (e.g. an angle that makes your website unique from the rest), then you are at risk of a Google slap.
    Merchants, any data you provide to Google Shopping should also be in your affiliate network datafeed. More data means more sales!

  8. #8
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    This is not the type of "Google Slap" that I'm used to -- it's not organic traffic, just PPC AdWords (so far).

    And this is a site which I designed very, very carefully so that the primary focus is on providing genuine value for end users -- a very specific, narrow audience. It's a directory site that includes affiliate product links (together with value-added editorial content), along with non-affiliate product links, plus a larger number of free web links for related resources.

    Basically, I took a concept that I'd done before, and apporached it from the concept of, "How can I deliver the most relevant and useful content for this audience's needs" -- and from there, began building an ontology, a database, and then a web site.

    To my astonishment, within weeks I've got many dozens of pages of this site appearing on the first page of organic Google search results (mostly "pinpoint" low-volume search terms), and at least half the pages I've checked are on the first or second page of organic results. That hasn't changed today.

    What changed, today, is PPC Search. First came the email telling me my "site" violated an unidentified Google policy; since then, I've been receiving bulky emails, each identifying dozens of specific ads which are being penalized (manual assignment of Quality Score 1, down from 6 or 7 for most keywords) -- but still not identifying what policy they claim was violated. I've spent some time looking at some of these individual ads and their landing pages, and I am honestly still clueless; since the pages do include some affiliate links, my "best guess" is that Google's algorithm is viewing these as "affiliate bridge" pages.

    Each directory page includes a bunch of links to other web sites; the pages I'm promoting through AdWords all have at least a dozen links, and many contain several dozen links. These are all text links to other web sites; some of these are affiliate links to products at Amazon and other merchants (all tagged with "nofollow" and flagged with a style id="paid_link"); about an equal number of links are unpaid, non-affiliate links to products offered by other merchants (who don't have affiliate programs); and the majority of links are to web pages that provide the same type of "product content" for free. Each page also includes an Amazon skyscraper ad in the right margin, usually with a "highly relevant product" listed first in the Amazon ad; when I launched the site, these were a mix of Google AdSense and Amazon ads but the AdSense ads were never relevant, so I substituted 100% Amazon skyscraper ads instead.

    The newest (ad-specific) emails include a hyperlink which Google says I can use to request "manual review," but these links just go to strange forms with "blank required fields" (that is, there's a form with some blanks, most marked with an asterisk as "required," but with no text identifying what I'm supposed to enter in each field).

    These frustrating "broken forms" are actually a positive sign -- it seems very clear that something really is broken on Google's end, so hopefully this will impact some bigger advertisers who can actually contact a human at Google, and maybe something will get fixed. Whether that will propagate down to my account, I can't predict.

    Right now, my AdWords account is dead (as a practical matter, with all keywords manually reset to quality score 0), so my site is now drawing traffic 100% organically. Of course, I'm expecting the other shoe to drop soon, plunging my Google organic listings into one of the lower levels of Hell.

    I went for a short walk to cool off a little bit, but I'm still quite ic about the apparent death of a project into which I've invested most of my time for the past 10 weeks. It's a very useful web site for its audience, but only if they can find it.

    I had planned to expand the site to a much broader scope over the next 3 to 6 months, but after talking with my wife this morning about the prospect of this being 100% wasted effort, I'm now going to start polishing off my resume so I can start looking for a Real Job that doesn't depend on Google's whims for our livelihood.

    Oops. 10 minutes of editing were lost due to an errant keystroke. I need to take another break.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 21st, 2011 at 04:47 PM.

  9. #9
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    "This is not the type of "Google Slap" that I'm used to -- it's not organic traffic, just PPC AdWords (so far)."

    That's what a Google Slap is, Adwords/PPC. And if you get it, it's pretty much over for that domain. I've done the runaround with them the first time, it's a waste of time.

    "Of course, I'm expecting the other shoe to drop soon, plunging my Google organic listings into one of the lower levels of Hell."

    The two are unrelated, PPC and organic. So if you're doing ok with your organic listings, just because you got Google Slapped, doesn't mean your organic listings are sure to follow. You might do great with that and get some nice free traffic.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff View Post
    * * * If you can't come up with content for a press release, touting the greatness of your website. (e.g. an angle that makes your website unique from the rest), then you are at risk of a Google slap.
    Some people have already been writing my press release for me, in posts on relevant discussion forums. My target audience doesn't just like my site -- they love it. I suspect that if Google staffers manually look at my site, they might even agree -- it's not an "Affiliate Bridge," nor a "made-for-ads" site, it's a very useful human-edited directory for a very specific audience with very narrow needs which the site serves very well.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 21st, 2011 at 04:49 PM.

  11. #11
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    I suppose "Google Slap" is really a term that describes how we feel -- I certainly felt "slapped" today, by Google, so I guess we can call this a "Google Slap." And I certainly expect "the other shoe to drop" soon, with my organic rankings flushed for the same keywords and landing pages.

    I've certainly received "disapproved ad" emails (individually or in clusters), usually for specific individual ads within a specific client's AdWords account (usually because of a scripting error on the client's server, or sometimes an error in generating the destination-page URLs, so that the landing pages simply didn't display what was intended).

    I don't recall ever getting an email that flagged an entire web site (domain) as penalized (of course, with AdWords we sometimes get some emails; Google never emails us about changes to organic rankings).

    I certainly have had the experience of seeing keywords in an AdWords account "lose quality score," with scores dropping by 1 or 2 or even 3 points after a Google algorithm change; but again, I don't remember ever seeing all the keywords in an account reset to a Quality Score of 1, before today.

    I suppose that "slap" isn't the right term to use when one of my domains abruptly vanished from all Google organic search results (back when I was playing around with many dozens of domains, some of which included thousands of "thin affiliate" landing pages -- something I haven't even experimented with for at least five or six years). Since Google never actually notified me when this happened, it's wasn't a "slap" but more of a quiet snub.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch View Post
    Some people have already been writing my press release for me, in posts on relevant discussion forums. My target audience doesn't just like my site -- they love it. I suspect that if Google staffers manually look at my site, they might even agree -- it's not an "Affiliate Bridge," nor a "made-for-ads" site, it's a very useful human-edited directory for a very specific audience with very narrow needs which the site serves very well.
    I swear, you sound like me a few years ago the first time I got slapped. I actually got a human to respond to my emails, 4 different times. They kept linking me to their Google page about landing pages. I kept telling them, get me a human to review my site, give me a real answer. I knew my site, I knew it was good, met all the requirements already and if an actual human reviewed the site, they couldn't tell me anything wrong it. You're in the denial phase of the Google Slap. I knew they were wrong but I'm trying to convince a competitor. You might hear stories now and then with people getting it overturned but those are exceptions, not the rule. I hope you get it overturned but if you do get some responses, I'm pretty sure they'll be along the line of what I got and everybody else. Do this and that, in the future it might be reevaluated, blah blah blah.

    I suppose "Google Slap" is really a term that describes how we feel -- I certainly felt "slapped" today, by Google, so I guess we can call this a "Google Slap."
    I know how you feel. First time I got slapped, killed 80% of my Google PPC, old thread on it - http://www.abestweb.com/forums/showt...ht=google+slap

    Then the other ones that were still live, slowly got killed off one by one. I can start a new campaign today for a new site/domain. It might be up for ? a few months, almost a year, with good quality scores of 7 and up and then magically overnight, boom. All of a sudden a campaign that Google said was good for 10 months, now is bad. There is no logic for it. I think it's either:

    They're a competitor and they can just zap you. They have their very own affiliate links in PPC. People to this day, still don't understand this.

    With product type stuff, they prefer merchants because they 1) have bigger pockets 2) actually carry the product and not just a middleman, and with that, I can actually agree with some.

    And when you do some reading on old threads, like I did, you find most people here have been slapped. Even people considered experts, get slapped. I was reading about Donuts getting slapped over at Webmasterworld. Nobody is immune.
    Last edited by Trust; January 21st, 2011 at 05:17 PM.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by isellstuff View Post
    Yes, it is set by account spend. I use my client center account number, which has more spend associated with it than any of the individual accounts.
    Odd, when I used my MCC account number, it just tells me I need to enter an individual client account. Perhaps this is because my MCC account has been mostly dormant for 18+ months.

  14. #14
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    For those who are curious, here's the key data from this particular AdWords account for the past 30 days (mostly since January 1).

    Keep in mind that this was a test campaign for a new directory web site (domain registered December 7).

    71,812 impressions; Average Position: 3.8

    1,236 clicks (1.72% CTR)

    Total AdWords spend: $53.74 (average CPC $0.04)

    Total revenue from affiliate earnings:
    $66 from 1 merchant @ ShareASale (14 transactions)
    $26 from Amazon (26 items purchased)
    $ 6 from another in-house merchant program
    $ 0 from 2 other in-house merchant programs
    $ 0 from 1 other merchant @ ShareASale
    $ 0 from 3 merchants @ Google Affiliate Network
    $ 0 from 3 merchants @ Commission Junction
    $ 0 from Google AdSense

    Of course, not all affiliate earnings are directly attributable to AdWords spending.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 21st, 2011 at 06:53 PM.

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    One of my sites that I run PPC for over the holidays got slapped in November after highly successful campaigns for the past 5 years. I contacted Google support and was basically told that if the visitor has to go off of your site to make a purchase, you are in violation of their Terms. The entire user experience has to take place on your site. I did some research and found that even iphone app developers who were advertising their apps got slapped because visitors had to go to iTunes to purchase.

    So, I figured Adwords was useless to affiliates now. If you haven't gotten slapped, you will. I spent my advertising dollars elsewhere last year and did just as well without Google. My sales were well into 5 figures both before the Google slap and after. Had excellent CTR. I just don't think they care for affiliates, no matter how satisfied your customers apparently are.
    Last edited by meadowmufn; January 21st, 2011 at 09:29 PM.
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  16. #16
    Super Dawg Member Phil Kaufman aka AffiliateHound's Avatar
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    I can relate the same scenario. I'm happy spending my ppc bucks elsewhere.

    But - in the grand scheme of things, what two-faced bull from the company that operates what I guess is the third-largest affiliate network.
    Since June 10, 2012 a vegan aarf but still writing the Hound Dawg Sports Blog
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  17. #17
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    "I contacted Google support and was basically told that if the visitor has to go off of your site to make a purchase, you are in violation of their Terms."

    And they basically violate their own policy with their own affiliate links in PPC.

    Announcing Product Listing Ads - Inside AdWords

    Google Is An Affiliate - Product Listing Ads - ABestWeb Affiliate Marketing Forum

    Even have Bed Edelman posting more and more about Google, stuff like - http://www.benedelman.org/news/092810-1.html

    I'll save davidh (Google) a post.

    But it's their site, they can do what they want, blah blah
    Last edited by Trust; January 21st, 2011 at 10:10 PM.

  18. #18
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meadowmufn View Post
    if the visitor has to go off of your site to make a purchase, you are in violation of their Terms. The entire user experience has to take place on your site.
    That is interesting to hear.

    I was doing PPC for one test niche for about 1 year. Didn't touch the campaign for a while, rank #1 organically also but the around Oct/Nov last year it started slipping in quality score and placement. I paused the campaign simply because I didn't have time to spend figuring out and fine tuning the Adwords campaign plus I was already doing well organically so why pay for traffic. I am hoping to pick it up and refocus again this year. It would be interesting to see what happens with it and if this acct gets slapped too.

  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador ladidah's Avatar
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    Mark, I know you are distressed right now about the account. But seems from your post that the visitors love your site and think of it, it is new. Trust is right that your Adwords acct and organic search results are not linked, so just because your acct is slapped does not mean your organic results will dip as well. Keep doing what you are doing and soon you'll see you don't need Adwords and Google will be the one paying you.

  20. #20
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trust View Post
    But it's their site, they can do what they want, blah blah
    lol
    Last edited by leeann; January 22nd, 2011 at 06:54 AM.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  21. #21
    Moderator leeann's Avatar
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    Mark, I do know how you feel. It is so frustrating when you cannot get to a person at Google to just look and help. What ladidah says makes a lot of sense if you can hold out. Best of luck to you and try not to let it eat you up alive.
    leeann


    Shoppers determine what has value and they like coupons. Stop manipulating who set the cookie just because you do not like coupon and promotional sites.

  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador Rehan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by meadowmufn View Post
    I contacted Google support and was basically told that if the visitor has to go off of your site to make a purchase, you are in violation of their Terms. The entire user experience has to take place on your site.
    This is not true. Google recently showcased an AdWords client that does exactly that -- Using Google AdSense to Complement Your AdWords Account - Inside AdWords ... There are lots of other comparison shopping sites and affiliate sites (like coupon sites) that are still running ads.

    They do make it difficult for affiliates (justifiable, though it's an overreaction), but it's not quite as strict as you were told. I'm not doubting that you were told what you wrote, but I'm just saying what you were told is not correct.
    --

  23. #23
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    Google AdWords Support responded and clarified that my site was flagged as a "Bridge Page", and that directory web sites are not allowed to advertise using AdWords.

    After discussing the situation with my wife, we've agreed that I must stop all work on web publishing and internet marketing, and look for work in another industry.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch View Post
    Google AdWords Support responded and clarified that my site was flagged as a "Bridge Page", and that directory web sites are not allowed to advertise using AdWords.

    After discussing the situation with my wife, we've agreed that I must stop all work on web publishing and internet marketing, and look for work in another industry.
    ? Why do you overreact all the time with stuff like this? It's just 1 form of traffic. Do PPC with Bing/Yahoo. Get free traffic from the search engines. Get on all the social media stuff out there...........etc. I'm pretty much zapped from Adwords and just had my best 4th Q ever and this year will be my best. If you think you've got a great site and people love it like you say, you shouldn't let Google dictate what you do.

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    There is no rational reason for me to invest a single additional minute in this project, nor in any internet marketing activities. I must surrender, after 3 years of decline, and accept that I am no longer going to make a living from internet activity, period.

    My family deserves a home to live in, and food to eat. There is no rational reason for me to continue seeking income from anything I'm doing online.
    Last edited by markwelch; January 22nd, 2011 at 01:02 PM.

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