It’s when Google suddenly raises the minimum bid of keywords in your campaign to levels far beyond what you can afford.
You’ll suddenly be asked to pay $5 or more for a keyword that once only cost you $0.40. The reason for the slap is simple – Google wants to ensure the quality of the sites that are advertising. By randomly raising the bids, they are punishing those ads that have quality scores that are too low.
Another thing Google may do is reduce your page ranking (PR), which will automatically mean you have to pay more to have your ads featured through AdWords.
A few things that Google consistently appears to look for include original and significant content on landing pages (the page a person goes to when they click on your ad), transparent business dealings and upfront information about how you conduct business, and easy methods for searching your website from the landing page.
Avoiding the Google Slap
To avoid the slap, you’ll need to keep a close eye on your quality scores. These numbers – taken out of 10 on each ad and keyword – will be put together with a number of pieces of data. There are separate quality score algorithms for search and content network ads, but we’ll look at search since that is where the most people get hit.
First, here is a breakdown of the quality score algorithm:
- The longterm CTR of a keyword and matched ad in Google – 60%
- Overall CTR of ads and keywords throughout
the history of your account – 5%
- CTR of Display URL over time – 5%
- Landing Page – 5%
- Keyword and Matched Ad relevance – 10%
- Account performance in geographic region – 5%
- Other factors – 5%
In short, the vast majority of the scoring is based on how many people click on your ad when it appears in Google. This means that, if you post an ad and reach the number 1 position with your bid, but only 1 in 2,000 people actually click on the ad, your minimum bid will start going up.
If other factors are also poor, like the average CTR of your entire AdWords campaign or the quality of your landing page, Google map slap your ad group or keyword with a massive bump in minimum bidding, effectively pricing you out of placement.
Ideally, you’ll never need to worry about a Google Slap. By ensuring your landing page has relevant, quality content, your ads are specific, with longtail search terms that will generate high CTRs and that your ads are regularly rotated and split tested to boost performance, your quality scores should stay above 5 – the magic number to keep bidding down.
What to Do if You’re Slapped
If you do happen to get Google slapped, however, the first thing you need to do is adjust how you’re planning your ads.
For example, without preamble, Google effectively negated a long time affiliate marketing strategy a couple of years ago when they slapped anyone that had an ad with a mismatched display URL and target
URL. Marketers were pointing their affiliate ads directly at the product pages for Amazon products and Clickbank products. Not everyone was priced out, but thousands of people woke up to found their campaigns effectively frozen.
What Google wants to ensure is that ads follow through on the promise of their copy. Start by running your ad through the performance analyser that AdWords provides, adjusting your landing page and removing any general, low performing keywords form your campaign. And if you continue to have problems with Google’s quality scoring, don’t forget that you can always use Bing or a site specific network like Facebook. There are always other options.
Google AdWords can be incredibly costly if you’re not careful. So, play close attention to how you use it, what you pay and where you get your advice.