Last month Jason wrote a blog post of some techniques to avoid the dreaded Google Slap which were very well received so when I received an email from Dush Ramachandran, VP of Sales, Marketing & Business Development at Clickbank the other day I thought it would well wroth passing onto Affilorama members. So with Dush's permission I have republished the email below. This has been passed to Dush directly from a contact at Google so it contains some pretty good advice and is well worth reading.
Here it is...
Many of you have experienced difficulties with your websites’ quality ratings being downgraded by Google, or your AdWords account being shut down or suspended recently, in what has come to be known as the Google Slap. We have been approached by a number of vendors and affiliates asking for further information on what may have caused this and what can be done to have their sites’ quality ratings restored or their AdWords accounts re-activated. To this end, I have had a number of conversations with Google and have managed to gather some information.
I am providing below the information provided by Google, in the hope that this will be helpful to you. We are continuing our conversations with Google and I will pass on any fresh information that we learn through these conversations.
1. Duplicate Mini-sites
The issue is often that affiliates create sites for the purpose of circumventing Google’s affiliate link policy. This policy states: "We'll only display one ad per search query for advertisers sharing the same top-level domain in the display URL. This means that if you're an affiliate advertiser, your ad may not show for a query because another affiliate or the website that runs the affiliate program also has ads using the same (or a similar) domain in the display URL." (http://adwords.google.com/support/aw/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=14844)
When one site is essentially the same site as another, while the product is fine, promoting it with different domains is against the rules. It violates the requirement that a site's content be unique.
2. Use of trademarked terms in the Ad text:
AdWords ads will not show if they're using a trademarked term (e.g. Photoshop) in the ad text and the landing page does not provide a reasonable amount of information about this product. Please make sure that the landing page provide enough information about the trade-marked term, so that it is not a ruse to attract visitors to the page but offers valuable information.
3. Squeeze Pages to obtain visitor names and email addresses:
Landing pages that act as squeeze pages to obtain visitors’ names and email addresses are often rated poorly on landing page quality. This is usually because the landing page is a data harvesting site that only contains a form. A site of this nature could most likely be advertised successfully if the user was taken to the page that describes the product and lets them buy it. Asking the users to provide a name and email before they can learn more about the product is not considered a good user experience and will be discouraged. If users are being asked for their name and email, then there should be some value that is provided to the user.
4. Thin reviews:
Review sites that contain short one paragraph reviews of products are considered thin reviews by Google and are not rated highly. If the review is a short abstract, and a link is provided to a more detailed version of the same review, then that review is considered by Google to be more valuable to the user and is therefore rated more highly. Google values reviews where the basis for arriving at the recommendation or the rating of the product is disclosed in the review, as it delivers a better user experience.
In general Google suggests the following practices to ensure a high rating on their search results:
- Avoid hidden text or hidden links.
- Don't use cloaking or sneaky redirects.
- Don't load pages with irrelevant keywords.
- Avoid "doorway" pages created just for search engines, or other "cookie cutter" approaches such as affiliate programs with little or no original content.
- If your site participates in an affiliate program, make sure that your site adds value.
- Provide unique and relevant content that gives users a reason to visit your site first.
When in doubt consult Google’s webmaster guidelines for more general information.
I hope this information was useful to you. Please let us know if you have any specific suggestions or additions to this information.