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Has Google shafted you yet?

Who me? Angry? You betcha!

There I was happily running AdWords ads for over 200 keywords for four books, paying between $.05 and $.26 per keyword.

Then one day I signed in to one account only to find they'd turned my keywords inactive in four out of five ad groups. Google's explanation? I needed to either increase the "quality" or raise my bid to their recommended amounts--which were mostly $5 or $10 per click!

"Quality" in the past with Google meant click-through rate, which makes no sense here. They were demanding a move from $.05 to $10 per click for keywords that had 17 percent CTRs. One even had a 50 percent CTR (but very small volume).

Turns out that Google means something else by "quality." They mean the amount of free content on the site you are linking to--which is how they judge organic rankings. Exactly the same.

Well--call me crazy--but aren't AdWords supposed to be ads? I mean, if I want to read about birdcages, I'll look in the organic offerings, but if I wanted to buy a birdcage--right now--I'd look at the AdWords ads. And if I clicked on one of those ads, I would be most unhappy going to pages with lots of free content to wade through when all I really wanted was to pay some money and buy a birdcage.

Traditional DM landing page

The page my disabled keywords went to was a traditional direct response landing page, www.RaiseYourPrices.com, a very long page with lots of copy (and, by the way, a free chapter to read) that ended with an order form.

This was, Google told me in response to my very unhappy e-mail, "very poor quality."

So ... I switched all my keywords to go to my Mequoda-style free content website (see article above), the goal of which is only to get free e-zine signups. And I reduced all my bids to the flat minimum. And now they're up and running again, although their value to me is greatly reduced.

But ... here's the frightening thing: This was just one of my accounts. I have other accounts still going to sales landing pages about which Google has said nothing. Is it just a matter of time before Google demands "extortion money" or changes on those, too?

Has it happened to you?

If so, please tell us about it. If not, I'd recommend some disaster planning for what you'll do when or if it does. I'm designing a fallback page for another website, just in case. And I've signed up with MSN.com and am working harder with Yahoo! At least those two search providers understand what an ad is.
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Author:Jensen, Marlene
Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Aug 17, 2006
Words:446
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