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  1. #1
    Verbosely Virtuous Mutt spacedog's Avatar
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    Google keywords inactive? Call Support: 866-246-6453
    That's 866-2-GOOGLE. It's a toll free call. I just spoke to a Google AdWords support representative. I recommend that everyone who has been affected by this "landing page update" train wreck call them with your concerns and details of your situation (unless of course you use MFA or other illegitimate and scamming sorts of advertising tactics).

    Keep in mind I don't spend enough on Google to have my own AdWords rep, so I went through the normal support channels to reach them. The AdWords support number is not published on their support pages but it's also not secret. Just google the phrase "google adwords phone number", for example. Also in a prior support email to me, the AdWords support rep sent me the above phone number without any problem, simply because I asked for it. In no way was I warned not to post it publicly. It's there for all current AdWords customers to use.

    With that out of the way, let's get to the details of my call. I spoke to a (non-manager) AdWords rep for a good 45 minutes.

    She seemed to all but confirm the suspicion that's been going on in the SEM community: that these AdWords changes are likely at least in part an attempt to crowd out affiliates from Google's paid ad market. She would not admit to that, but when I gave her an example of one of the main keywords of one of my campaigns that had been whacked (ALL of my campaigns have been whacked, mind you), we looked at the search results together. I had her look at a few of my competitors' landing pages which were still active.

    I told her my business model (affiliate marketing) and the way I use my landing pages, and she said something like, "Let me ask you this. When someone gets to your landing page, can they buy the product there?" I proceeded to explain the affiliate model to her and how we pre-sell with our landing pages and often get a higher conversion rate than the merchants themselves get.

    She repeatedly referred to Google's desire for searchers to have a "good user experience", and that that's what this landing page update is all about. She implied (didn't outright say it, but in so many words) that if the ad does not immediately link to a place where the searcher can browse and buy products, then the "user experience" is not good enough and quality score will thus be low. She used the catch phrase "unique content" several times as well, saying that landing pages by different advertisers must be different from each other.

    I pressed her on that point, but to her credit she kept with the company line and would not say that Google is crowding out affiliates. She repeatedly said that they are not targeting any types of groups specifically with this update. But the feeling I was getting is that they're trying to limit the number of clicks any searcher will have between the AdWords ad and a product purchase page. I asked her why some of my competitors that have not been whacked have similar landing pages that pre-sell and don't allow immediate purchase, and she asked how do I know that they might not be bidding the much higher rate for that keyword? I said, "Don't you *know* what they're bidding?" but she did not want to divulge any information and at that point refused to look at any other examples, stating that she can't speak for specific decisions that have been made.

    I asked her, "Why not disable ads instead of hyperinflating the cost per click?" She said the decision was made by people in the upper ranks and she could not answer that question. She said she'll "pass that on" for me as a suggestion to the decision makers.

    I asked if it makes a good user experience if a shyster advertiser plays along with this game and changes their bid to the $10.00 (or $5, $1, etc hyperinflated amount) and gets their MFA page back in active status, where searchers will have to suffer the frustration of clicking on it. She replied that if the advertiser does this, and the landing page is still poor, the rate might be raised even higher. I've not seen any examples of this secondary hyperinflation discussed in forum threads so far; anyone else?

    I asked her to have my campaigns re-evaluated. She said she will bring it to a "policy specialist" but that the likelihood that my changes will be reversed and my keywords reactivated is small. She said that Google has no plans to reverse their update or roll anything back, to her knowledge. She did not know if the policy specialist would look at my campaigns and ad groups individually; I asked her to specifically ask them to do that. She's going to get back to me by email "probably early next week".

    Other interesting tidbits: No, she said, Google is not making a grab for money with this update. She confirmed that there is an algorithm at work which is "backed up by human decisions". She could not answer my question of why all of my campaigns had been simultaneously whacked clearly without a human reviewing them individually. Again without admitting it directly, she implied (my apologies that I can't remember her wording) what many have suspected; that once you've been targeted, all of your ad URLs going to the same domain name are likely affected.

    She said she was happy to pass on to the decision makers the suggestions I made and the slew of gripes I had. I asked her to tell them that it's not too late to roll back the "update" and publicly address the widespread concern. She did not sound in any way confident that Google would budge on this.

    My advice is to CALL THEM. The Google rep I spoke to admitted there have been some very angry and frustrated advertisers calling their support center and that their support volume has spiked. Interestingly it was afternoon already when I called, when you'd expect a high volume of calls. Yet I got through very quickly. We need to increase the pressure on Google. This problem is not going away; after 4 days I'm still 99%+ down on number of AdWords clicks and I have seen only one forum post (on any of the forums I've read) that someone was able to get their keywords re-evaluated and subsequently reinstated.

    Google appears to have thrown down the gauntlet to the affiliate marketing sector. If it's the paid side of their search now, just how long until they try to impose the same "good user experience" on their natural search results?

  2. #2
    15 years and counting
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    Good Information Spacedog. If you're an Affiliate Marketer, I'm afraid they will tag your sites as "Affiliate" if you ask them to review your sites.

  3. #3
    Internet Cowboy
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    All I get when I call Google is some little girl who is clueless in the world of marketing who says what she is told to say. I have an account rep at Google and she is not much better.

    They uptalk, bringing the inflection in their voices up at the end of the sentence. Reminds me the chick in Frank Zappa's "Valley Girl".

    Site scrapers and made for Adsense sites atop every Google query. Now that is a fine customer experience.


  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador MoneyBusiness's Avatar
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    I wish Google were one of those companies that had a small business experience, but they're not. THey are so incredibly large, and profitable, that they pretty much set the rules, and can be as cold and clueless as they want to be - with no major recourse. This includes how much info is passed down through the ranks. I imagine they've received hundreds of thousands of calls over the last few days - and every single one from the small spender, to the whales are getting the same template answers.

    As far as your question regarding: the increase of CPC prices, instead of just disabling keywords - I've read a couple of times over at WMW of people who decided to try and raise their bids to the new minimums. There results were the same - it stayed (or quickly went) inactive.
    Follow my dog, Maya, and I, as we fumble around the affiliate marketing world: www.MarketingMaya.com
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  5. #5
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    I cannot believe I just read that post. I hate Google now more than ever. Who are thy to say what we can or cant advertise? That is not in their terms of service ANYWHERE!! I want more than my ad's reversed now. This is absolutely obsurd. Who cares if the customer can't buy something on my page? What if I am not selling anything? What if I was a non-profit organization? I honestly doubt that the new algorithem is backed by human review also...

    I am not going to call them. I dont have the patients for their garbage, and I doubt it will do any good anyway. The only thing that would be usefull would be to tape record the conversation and use it in court against them for not providing equal advertising for everyone, not seting forth clear policies, and hyperinflating the PPC advertising market for personal gains.

    We need to do something about this. Anyone have any ideas?

  6. #6
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    This whole thing frustrates me.

    I went to set up a couple campaigns last night for terms that I target a few times a year.

    In the past the most I paid per click on these terms was 22-32 cents per click. Last night the min. was $10.00 per click.

    I googled the term and there are only a few companies targeting these words. I won't be one of them anymore at that price!
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  7. #7
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    I googled the term and there are only a few companies targeting these words. I won't be one of them anymore at that price!
    They are probably paying what you used to pay too.

  8. #8
    Web Ho - Design B!tch ~Michelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh
    They are probably paying what you used to pay too.
    Yep, and it ticks me off because they are all companies with very deep pockets.
    ~Michelle
    "All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy."
    "Work to become, not to acquire." -- Confucius

  9. #9
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    After talking to them more than 6 months ago, and not using the keywords suggested by my Google Rep and his wording, I saw my own keywords jumped to $10ea but worse, the website I used to redirect this traffic was deranked. I'm pretty sure this website generating quite a bit of traffic by itself was tagged as "Affiliate". I lost all my organic Google Traffic for not accepting their recommendations. I've been unable to get this site back in Google and if I use AdWords every keyword I can imagine is almost immediatly set at $10, even with new landing pages.

  10. #10
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    Seriously...When google started with this quality score sh*t I knew what was coming...I told a rep that my 10k/month spending was being going to MSN for this bullstuff.

    And what pisses me off is that if you want to do this quality score mess, tell me what I need to do to get a high quality score..If you want high quality scores for high quality user experience, tell me dammit!

    For real, I'm giving google a spoon, and with it, they can eat my a**!!!

  11. #11
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    well...hopefully yahoo and msn and get their act together...maybe they can be the "affiliate friendly" PPCSE...

  12. #12
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    Very interesting conversation. I know Google has been working hard to improve the quality of their free search results and it's to be expected that they'll do the same in paid search. I don't think they're directly targeting affiliates but many of these low-value-add sites just happen to be affiliate sites. Sometimes I click on paid ads only to find garbage so I can see where they're coming from.

    It is a little unfair that webmasters with limited programming resources won't be able to purchase cheap traffic. But hopefully this can motivate publishers to create more unique and valuable written content.

    Google appears to have thrown down the gauntlet to the affiliate marketing sector. If it's the paid side of their search now, just how long until they try to impose the same "good user experience" on their natural search results?
    Google's been doing this for years. Now they're just starting to impose their quality guidelines on AdWords publishers.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  13. #13
    Lite On The Do, Heavy On The Nuts Donuts's Avatar
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    Imagining that a robot can properly judge whether a customer will enjoy a buying or pre-buying event is a really arogant proposition. I'd venture to say that most succesful affiliates know more about building for customer satisfaction that Google does... it's what we do for a living.

    I remain unscathed so far myself, but have seen enough examples to know something's gone nuts with their criteria, whatever it is. Asking us adwords spenders, their customers, to guess what we're supposed to fix or address, is really weird.

    You give them money to run ads, they say we're going to charge you 10x as much as everyone else... you ask why... they refer you to their terms and let you know indirectly that they consider you to suck in the quality department for a number of untold reasons...

    Meanwhile, adsense is filled with ip fakers in indonesia click frauding their way to fat adsense checks and nothing gets done... except a cheesy class action settlement where most of us are afraid to apply for a refund because it's so nebulously defined where we have to state how much click fraud we had (it's their servers, we don't even have logs of it to examine) and we all figure if we apply for a refund, G knows who you are and will gig you...

    Ad partners who announce "we're changing something" on you (c'mon, be specific) leave a lot to be desired in terms of stability and reliability.

  14. #14
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    I believe in a quality landing page...But I don't trust this alogrithm...Suppose google is loking for a high PR for a high quality score ranking?

    You could have the greatest orginial content in the world, and that still wouldn't matter.

    Do I have to do hardcore SEO for decent prices????

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    I'm curious, for those of you who were affected by this what sort of sites do you run? Is Google doing this for review and price comparison sites? Or are they just targeting static datafeed sites? Or how about coupon and deals sites?

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  16. #16
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    Donuts - Imagining that a robot can properly judge whether a customer will enjoy a buying or pre-buying event is a really arogant proposition. I'd venture to say that most succesful affiliates know more about building for customer satisfaction that Google does... it's what we do for a living.
    Exactly!

  17. #17
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    Suppose I was renting an apartment and the apartment management company just decided to raise my rent 2000% just because they didnt like the quality of my furniture or the quality of the clothes I wear? Wouldn't they get into some sort of legal trouble?

  18. #18
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    this sh*t is a reason to never get complacent if u got a good things going...

    a guy i knew made 200k profit a year doing AM...google made changes way back when and profit dried up...

    we are all slave to this ishhhh...stack yo chips and be wise...greed can squeeze the life out of a lot of good people...but that's the game...

  19. #19
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    I just revised a paused campaign that I have and noticed some of my bids remained unchanged. One keyword imparticular that was previously marked at $1 activation (even though Ive gotten it cheaper) I decided to delete and re add it to see what the result was.

    $10 a click now. Same keyword that 2 seconds ago was at $1 (which is still too high by the way)

    What the $%&#ing he11 is going on?!?!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Josh
    Suppose I was renting an apartment and the apartment management company just decided to raise my rent 2000% just because they didnt like the quality of my furniture or the quality of the clothes I wear? Wouldn't they get into some sort of legal trouble?
    nice try, but that isn't a parallel with what google is doing

    the apartment just cares whether or not it gets it'd rent...google is completely different...

  21. #21
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    here is my worry...when will the affiliate marketer not be needed?

    i think it is coming....

  22. #22
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    Alright then, Suppose I wanted to advertise in a newspaper for a certian sized ad. They couldnt just raise my cost 2000% just because they thought the ad wasn't good enough, or the webpage I advertised wasnt good enogh while the next guy gets it for cheaper.

  23. #23
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    melty - here is my worry...when will the affiliate marketer not be needed?
    i think it is coming....
    Don't worry!
    They are not the first to target Affiliates Sites. Overture did it before. We'll survive. I'm not so optimitic for them. Their SERPs sucks more and more. Their Paid listings sucks. Are they looking at their OWN QUALITY?
    I closed an incredible number of sales these last ten years. I don't wonder if my sites meet Google quality standard or not. If I have to switch to a cash-back or comparison site to please them. I don't care. My visitors are buying from me. That's what is important. They will find me, with or without Google.

  24. #24
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    I agree with Snib about G now targetting adwords with 'quality score' and I seriously doubt that they will revert back to their original way of doing things with adwords. They've never gone back in their SERPs algo changes - merely turned up the dial or turned it down again regardless of what the overall web community says. So from past experience I don't think they are going to change this either.

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  25. #25
    ABW Ambassador simcat's Avatar
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    I see lots of adwords ads for
    -free laptop-
    -free plasma screen tv-
    -free screensaver-

    Im sure anybody who clicks on those ads will have a "good user experience"

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