I love Google. I really do. They’re true Internet pioneers.
But lately, I’m becoming a bit disillusioned with Google. They’re becoming more difficult to work with, more heavy-handed in their application of rules, less responsive to customer feedback.
Case in point:
Recently Google banned my ads promoting a long-form sales letter on this blog that has a lead capture form at the bottom even though I have a full nav bar, legal disclaimers, and more than 250 articles on my site!
What really irritated me is that they had never sent me any prior warnings — and yet sent me an email that implied they had repeatedly warned me and I was unresponsive. Uh, no. The “final warning” was the first one I had received.
Here is the email they sent me.
Final Warning: Your Google AdWords account has multiple violations
We are writing to let you know that your Google AdWords account is at risk of being suspended due to multiple violations related to our Advertising Policies, including the Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines. Below is a list of example display URLs of the sites in violation of these policies. Please check the existing ads in your account to ensure that they comply with these policies. Please be aware that this is your final warning, and any additional violations of our Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines will lead to immediate account suspension.
As part of our commitment to making the AdWords experience safe and effective for our users and our advertisers, we routinely review the landing pages that our advertisers promote through our search and content networks. If we find that an advertiser has submitted poor quality landing pages that do not comply with our Advertising Policies, including the Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines, we reserve the right to take account-level action.
Landing pages advertised via AdWords must have relevant, original content, and must be transparent about the nature of the business being promoted. Further, advertisers are prohibited from promoting certain types of sites, which include, but are not limited to:
* Data collection sites that imply delivery of free items, etc., in order to collect private information
* Arbitrage sites without relevant and original content that are designed for the purpose of showing ads
* Affiliate sites without relevant and original content that are designed to drive traffic to another site with a different domain
* “Get-rich quick” sites that make unrealistic promises
* Sites that are deceptive
* Sites that distribute malware or spyware
* Extremely misleading/unverifiable or inaccurate claims
Please note that this action is related to sites that have recently been advertised through your account. In a review of your account history, we found that your account had submitted multiple sites that merited poor landing page quality evaluations. Advertisers that have a history of promoting poor quality landing pages are subject to account-level disabling.
So: Based on Google’s advertising guidelines, I can only assume that my landing pages have been classified as “data collection sites.” Therefore, I can’t advertise on Google.
But here’s the deal.
If I can’t capture some kind of information by offering something for free or selling something outright, then how in the world am I supposed to justify the advertising expense?
It seems Google is trying to permanently cement their position as “The One Who Rules the Internet” by favoring advertisers who run branding ads and “slapping” anybody who uses direct response techniques.
Is this a result of Google knowing too much… of their ability to see how well our sales pages are performing?
I can tell you one thing: They didn’t ban my ads and my site because I wasn’t generating leads. They banned it because I was generating leads.
My theory is that Google wants to make their advertisers totally dependent on them for traffic by prohibiting data collection. That way an advertiser will have to keep paying Google over and over and over again — and will never have an asset (e.g. an email list) they can use to create profits.
With that in mind, check out the discussion that has literally erupted over on Armand Morin’s blog. On Friday, September 3, he wrote an article called Major Google Issue… Affects Us All.
Apparently, Google is now banning advertisers who use what they call “bridge pages.”
Example: Armand’s ad directs people to SecretPPC.com. He then has his shopping cart hosted on GeneratorSoftware.com. Because the cart is not hosted on the same domain as the sales page, Google is defining SecretPPC.com as a “bridge page” between Google and the shopping cart — and banning the ad.
As I’m sure you’d agree, this logic is ridiculous. Lots of online sellers host their carts on a separate domain to avoid paying for multiple SSL certificates.
Furthermore, does this mean every product seller who uses Clickbank to process payments can no longer advertise on Google? What about PayPal?
More importantly, what about Google Checkout???
If Google is indeed banning “bridge pages,” then the implications will reverberate around the Internet for months, maybe years.
I can only speculate what Google’s motive is for all these heavy-handed rules.
But whatever it is, I believe Google’s brazenness will eventually backfire. They’re going to force advertisers to flee to a better medium. And when that happens, maybe Google will finally wake up to how unfriendly they’re becoming to the very businesses that support them.
-Ryan M. Healy
P.S. For even more insight into Google’s new Adwords rules, check out this post (and follow the links for detailed info on Google’s Quality Score guidelines): Google’s Final Slap