Google Slap for Review and CPA Sites?

By Mark Ling
Google Slap for Review and CPA Sites?


Recently I've heard a number of people complain about having their adwords listings quality score drop from 7 (or even 10) down to 1. As a result they've gone from having to pay normal prices per click, e.g. 50c to prices like $20 per click if they want their ad to display.

Many have suggested that Google is slapping review sites and affiliate CPA sites.

What I'm going to do below is give you my thoughts on it based on what has happened inside my own adwords account. I'd appreciate comments from others.

After carefully combing through my adwords account I've found only a small percentage of my keywords have been 'slapped'.

There is a common theme to the slapping and it doesn't appear to have anything to do with review pages. I have several review pages on my different affiliate sites and the vast majority have remained unaffected.

The common theme that I've noticed has tended to be more to do with the on page optimization of the landing page. I've found that when I use Traffic Travis and run a page analysis on any keyword phrase that got slapped, I find that the page that it was directing traffic to received a B- or lower as the rating.

The other pages that didn't get slapped were search engine optimized for the keyword phrase that I was bidding on and received Traffic Travis 'page analysis' ratings of anywhere between a B and an A+.

I also need to point out that my affiliate sites all have at least 30 pages or more in content, so the overall site is a quality one. It is just the landing page itself which seems to be my particular problem. However for others of you, you may wish to make sure that your website itself is quality (ie don't just build a 5 page website and expect that to be enough).

I also make sure that I have 'no-index' on each of my ppc landinge pages. That way I can create relevant landing pages, without worrying about duplicate content as I've told Google not to index these ppc landing pages.

I won't call my writeup above a definitative answer just yet. I'll need to now go ahead and adjust some of my PPC landing pages and resubmit them to see if they rise in quality score or not.

Hopefully I'll have more results by next week.

It certainly doesn't appear that we need to 'cloak' links, or pretend that we aren't affiliates, which is what I've heard suggested around the place. Although that isn't a bad idea in any event as it makes it harder for people to track what you are doing.

So, what does everyone else think?


View all 75 comments (Currently displaying latest 50)

stefan rooyackers 15 years ago

One of my sites was been slapped completly. All keywords are down to score 1. This site had a great CTR en also conversions. So strange. Because Google must heve seen that many people buy, so it;s can't be bad??

I add more content (related) a week ago. But still no effects. Must I give up this site? Are the ways to recover?

tantan 15 years ago
I slapped by Google: QS 10/10 became 3/10 :(
But just one keyword not all of my keywords, whereas my other keywords have same theme with that slapped keyword.
Nitin Mistry 15 years ago
Hi Mark,

MY QS went from 9 to 3 for about 15 sites I have. I found that the keyword 'free' played a major - think - not 100% sure though. All in all it's not been too bad. I heard US legislation has or will be passed re. review sites - and that Google, MAS, Yahoo are all going towards slapping review sites hard. It's coming ... very soon!
Lawrence Stainbank 15 years ago

Thanks for focusing on this problem. I have just bought Commission Ritual and, as you know, the author believes, very strongly, that all affiliate links should be cloaked. Can this be done fairly easily - I'm using XsitePro.

affiliates mania 15 years ago
hey thanks for this info. i hope my page doesn't get slap by them :D
Mark Daws 15 years ago
Hi Mark,

Well I got well and truly slapped by Adwords after about two weeks of advertising (end of June) with a low landing page quality score of 1. Followed Affiloblueprint to the letter to recheck any mistakes and even wrote to google support to find out what was wrong. They said they have passed it onto their tech team. That was three weeks ago and still no news!

Even went through the excellent 7 deadly sins of landing page design by Tim Ash (one of the Website Optimizer Authorized Consultants) from the PPCBULLY Blog - see it here:

My site has since been sandboxed (July 11th) and my income has gone from $100 a week to $0!. The only thing i can think of with regards to the sand box is the redirects i use with xsitepro2. Does this affect the bounce rate and therefore the site's relevence in search? And would this also afftect the Adwords landing page quality score? Well i have changed it to the direct clickbank link and this has not worked either. Traffic Travis gives a page analysis of "B".

The only other thing i can think of is to try linking to the main site (not the single PPC page) and see what happens?

Anyway have given up with adwords for now until i can find out what is going on....

james 15 years ago
Thanks for info. I just released a ppc review landing page. Sounds like from your experience I should be fine, getting a B in traffic travis and set for no google spider. Thanks will look for your update next week.
Shirin 15 years ago
I like this
Adrian 15 years ago
Nope - Getting a 3/10 QS on a page with "A" rating. Site is over 400 pages. Just my experience. Don't see any pattern to it.
Michael 15 years ago
Yes, I am rather a newbie at all of this, but I think I am somehow becoming a victim of this. I have a totally review-oriented blog, and I am seeing that I am showing up lower and lower in google rankings. I definitely need to take to heart all of this advice and come up with a strategy. Thanks,everybody!
Intenet Marketing IQ 15 years ago
There is this mistaken belief that if you are spending a lot of money with Adwords Google will let you be. Google isn't stupid. They have all the data they need to specifically target the profitable niches. They let you do the buy, let you do the work, then when they want to pull more money direct from the advertisers they do this kind of thing to eliminate you as competition.
Michael Pandos 15 years ago
If Google wants to continue with their mega profitable adwords business they need to freely release the guidelines of their new "SLAP" campaign. I'm sure affiliate marketers aren't the only people in the world that have had their sites slapped.
Rika Schwenkenbecher 15 years ago
hi mark
like peter mcgrath already mentioned... what about the 5/10 page sites that one would create as per the Autopilot Riches webinar that you recorded with Alen Sultanic and Adam Short?
Srinath 15 years ago
I can tell you the funny experience I have been having with Google. I have a landing page which is comprehensive enough, gives all the information about the affiliate program and have even created multiple pages explaining each and every aspect about various elements of the program. My website is about 3 months old and I have an SEO rating of 93%.
Google finds the pages are ok when I create a campagin and I take google's advice on the keywords.
Quality score is all 7/10 and above. Landing page no problem, quality score no problem, landing page access speed no problem, relevency of content no problem. Then, 5-6 hours later all keywords have a quality score of 1/10.
I go back revisit landing page, add more content, make some more changes, still the same story.
Now, I am going to stop google and go with Y!, Bidvertiser, Adbrite!
Irony is, there are PPC ads that are running great with hardly any content. I saw one landing page which does not have even 1 page of information - just asking people sign up if they want to make money on line!!!
We have seen the big brother attitude being the pitfall of many of struggling companies of today! History repeats itself!
julie duport 15 years ago
Hi Mark,
Could you please provide information on cloaking (and redirects)? Or is it in the system somewhere, and I haven't found it yet?
What strategies do you suggest we aim for now? It is it really necessary to build a 50 page site to promote an affiliate products??
PPC campaigns can be marginal, and take time to set up and monitor all the stats. With Google getting heavier, would it be more productive to change focus toward organic seo, article marketing, social media marketing?
Thank you for all the great information you provide.

Joan Stalker 15 years ago
Thanks for your take on this, Mark. I haven't felt much of an impact so far but I have been making sure that my pages score at least A for SEO in Traffic Travis. I'm also linking my landing pages to my quality site that is full of quality content.

Someone asked about the 5-10 page sites mentioned in the webinar. My understanding was that these sites relied completely on SEO and affiliates marketing their products.

Thanks for keeping us posted on these new developments, Mark.
Howard 15 years ago
Thanks for the info Mark!

Do you think you could explain to us the correct way of cloaking our links and performing a php redirect? I have some link cloaking tools on my hardrive but I don't know if they are legit.

You also said to add no follow to your landing page, won't this eliminate your chances of climbing in the search engines?

Also I have been told that once a site has been slapped you should get rid of the domain immediately
Graeme Pearce 15 years ago
My adwords that took a pounding all went to the same landing page, It just linked out to my money pages. My NZ$0.34 adwords that were making me US$160 a week went dead. I have had no luck putting life back into them. I'm using a landing page now that is a A+ with Traffic Travis ( Love this tool). But my ads are not getting pass the reviewer to get going. On the plus side I'm not spending any more money with Google, went over to Yahoo. Which is a lot less traffic, also my organic google search has now started to grow. My keywords and ads are ones that google do not like but buyers do. No its not Porn. The site has daily updated content and about 15 pages. Just got a bad page score. Its a blog site doing reviews. My other Blog review site adwords did not get hit. those keywords went to a review page targeted to those keywords. I think the keywords and ad and the landing page all must match and have no opt in forms on it, from what I read on google.
Brian Pruitt 15 years ago
While Google is so busy slapping us they need to worry about the new deal that Yahoo and Microsoft inked recently lol.. Looks like Yahoo and Bing are trying to slap Google.
Jeff Ellis 15 years ago
Most of what you need to know about Google's expectations for yours site is available in their Webmaster Guidelines *broken link removed*

I was Google slapped recently and went from top 5 ranking on first page to non-existent. I couldn't find my site at all! I submitted for 'reconsideration' several times and finally discovered that my problem was that my affiliate links and links that my clients pay me per click needed to have a 'no follow' in the link code. This tells the robots to ignore the link when determine search ranking. Google wants these links ignored because it is paid advertising and not organic. Do not use a 'no follow' on links that go to sources of quality relevant information that are not paid for, Google likes those links.

Information on the 'no follow' code can be found in the Webmaster Guidelines.

Jeff Ellis
Don Tolimieri 15 years ago
I published my AffiloBlueprint site a few days ago. All of my pages have an A+ Traffic Travis score, yet my Google QS was 1/10 and my landing page was rated "Poor". I just changed all of my affiliate links to "no follow", and I changed all of my PPC pages to no-index. I will wait and see if this helps.

Thank you everyone, for your advice!
Don Tolimieri
Adrian 15 years ago
The bottom line is that the US Government got their nose into something else - and ruined it. Everytime they touch something it destroys any progress and income potential - no surprise.
Vance 15 years ago
Hi Mark,

I appreciate your keeping on top of things. I do not use ppc and don't even have a CPA site but I think that Google is trying to weed out low quality sites. If a review page and one or two more pages should be considered a good well ranking site than internet users would really be in trouble. It is value that we need to provide and then Google won't be viewed as an evil monster.
I may be naive but this us against Google mentality that seems to prevail in some circles does no good to anyone except perhaps Yahoo and MSN. Let's learn from the slap and build sites of higher quality.
Simon Slade 15 years ago
Thanks for the update.
Jon Pastorizo 15 years ago
Maybe soon we don't have to focus on Google and maybe we can forget the famous Google Slap. Yahoo and MSN has joined forces. =)
Nick Fauchelle 15 years ago
Very interesting read, a lot of focus on review sites in the media at the moment.
Lawrence Stainbank 15 years ago

If affiliate sites with little or no 'non-sales copy' are the target of Google, how come Amazon or still on line ?
There is an increasing number of 'experts' suggesting that the way forward is to have sites that are 100% quality content and the way to monetise them is to have an opt-in box. Selling should then be done from mailing your list, completely bi-passing Google.

Randy Carney 15 years ago
Thanks, Mark or anyone who can answer this.

How do you put in a "no index" instuection on your web page?

Also, Chris said, "It's kind of a pain, but if you can outsource it or use DKI, it will cut down on alot of the work. I would think in this situation, DKI would be the best way to go to really maximize relevancy. " So, Chris or anyone who can answer: What is DKI.

Thanks again. That info will help as we are trying to make adjustments to our sites.
Brian Pruitt 15 years ago
Lawrence is an Authority site. Its one big kick A$$ review site if you break it down but they've been online since forever so sites like that get alot of love from Google. They also have thousands and thousands if not hundreds of thousands of pages online.
Ross 15 years ago
I was not affected at first but my campaign has been completely ruined today. Every single keyword is at 1/10 now due to landing page being rated poor. Before, they were all at 7 or above. I have only started at this and this is my only campaign. I was still at the stage of working out which keywords were working so now Google have all my money and I have nothing and no means to make it back with PPC. I cannot think of any good reason why they have done this. Some of the keywords point to my main site and not a landing page and they have even been slapped as well. I have recently added re-directs, is it possible they are to blame?
Lawrence Stainbank 15 years ago
Avidpoet - I know you're right but you can't blame me for being bitter and twisted.

However I think my second point is of some interest and a number of gurus, including John Reese, are advocating this approach.

Thomas Hansen 15 years ago
I am in the same situation as Ross, just launched my first campaign and after 4 days I get all my keywords slapped from 7 to 1. I have not yet added any redirects.

My landing pages and main site is build according to how Mark has build his

Any usefull informations are welcome!

Screw Google 15 years ago
Who gives a sh*t what Google wants anymore? It's gotten to a point where if I lose $100,000 by not dealing with them and their stupid mysterious quality score and slaps, then I lose $100,000.

Some people want to go into the ditches and fight it out with Google for the extra money. I just accept Google for the bitch she is and deny her my money.

Google isn't the center of the universe. There are a ton of other quality traffic sources. Diversify your marketing traffic sources and find your coconut tree on the beach.

Absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Robert 15 years ago
I have been in this business a long time, and I 100% agree with Edward:

"There's a huge quantity of products for which a 'content site' is absolutely meaningless."

Google needs to understand they are simply a data collection company, not marketers. Marketing is an art, and selling/conversions are not based on some keyword density score, 500+ page bs site, whether are not I am an affiliate of the product I'm selling, etc. In fact, a lot of the crap affiliates try to build to get around their "guidelines" just end up creating more garbage online that we all have to wade through.

As a google customer, I want an ad for my search that directs me to a page that will sell me the product. It's that simple. Quit wasting my time. When's the last time you turned on the TV and thought, "I'm not buying Pepsi... they didn't offer enough quality information on the carbonated sugar water industry so I could make an educated decision."

jamie 15 years ago
I am in agreeance with Edward and Robert. I have about 3 years in the sem traffic to affiliate game and there are some niches which do not warrant a 50 page content site. I good landing page which gives the user a balanced choice or just some great sales copy should be all you need. After all, if it doesn't convert for you, you aren't going to keep spending the cash for the clicks.
Randy Carney 15 years ago
Thanks, Mark or anyone who can answer this.

Still lookint for the answer to a couple of things:

How do you put in a "no index" instuection on your web page?

Also, Chris said, "It's kind of a pain, but if you can outsource it or use DKI, it will cut down on alot of the work. I would think in this situation, DKI would be the best way to go to really maximize relevancy. " So, Chris or anyone who can answer: What is DKI.

Thanks again. That info will help as we are trying to make adjustments to our sites.

Michael 15 years ago
Thanks for the great posts guys. Recently, I've also had the google slap on my adwords account.

It's starting to really frustrate me... the monopoly that google controls. Bah~
Josh Jacobs 15 years ago
Is there a resolution to this yet, or are people still trying to figure out exactly what happened? It seems it would have a super-huge effect on people using the blueprint.
Mark Ling 15 years ago
To Dewey and others. So far in my testing, and I still have more to do, I have found that by following my existing system of having 20-30 pages of unique content as a minimum on my website, doing the seo and linkbuilding first, then adding in the ppc landing pages later (using no-index) on these pages, and making sure that they receive an A- or better in T.Travis; has lead to none of these pages receiving a low quality score. That includes whether they are a squeeze page, OR a review page.

I don't think that at the moment it has any effect on the blueprint other than that people have to follow it more strictly than before (ie those having the most troubles are ones who have been cutting corners by putting up 5 page websites, or using too much duplicate content, and then going straight to ppc before adding more content, or building links).

Also remember it has to pass a human review too, so make your website 'look' credible too (e.g., don't use comic sans ms or weird fonts that people aren't used to seeing).

I am doing more testing but didn't want to jump to conclusions till I see more hard evidence, at the moment I have not had many listings get slapped at all and keep adding new ones without them getting slapped, no matter what kind of landing page I have (squeeze, review or otherwise).
Mark Ling 15 years ago
With regards to putting a no-index on your webpage, if it is a wordpress website, simply install the robots meta plugin (or the ultimate seo pack) and then with every post/page that you add, it'll give you the option of making it 'no-index'.
Mark Ling 15 years ago
It seems I can't post the code as it is in html, read this post for the code:
John T 15 years ago
I think Google is shooting themselves in the foot when they "slap" people that will pay for their ad placements. This occurred to me on a few campaigns. I then went back and forth with a support specialist who said the site was nothing more than a doorway to affiliates. It still had content on it. Regardless, they told me to redo the site as a review site or some other format with comparison products. I spent over $350,000 on this campaign with them over 14 months. That's why they are shooting themselves in the foot. Imagine the lost revenue, they may think they are sacrificing these advertisers for quality, but I think they will end up losing market share. I'll take that $350,000 ad spend somewhere's else.

Another thought is that they slapped all the sites that did pass quality, but they pass it on to the advertiser as not passing because they actually want someone to pay more for the ad placement, then what you were paying. Thus, on the backend it is an auction format for the ppc and because you ranked high in quality and got a low ppc they want to remove you for someone that will pay more for that placement.

After I got the slap, I went and looked at some of the sites advertising with similar/same keywords, to my standards, those sites are junk and most were created in china/korea and were really infringing on trademarks. If I were a user, I would abandon that page.

My 2 cents.
chandan saud 15 years ago
I have recently hear that google punish those blog that sell ads. So is it true?

Nice blog, I have stumbled your blog through stumbleupon, I own one blog related to work at home, my id on SU id chandansaud , plz add me on your friend list and if you like then please give me one thumps up. Thank you.

Chandan Saud
Yonatan 15 years ago

I got slapped tonight. My campaign went down from a 10 to a 1. Landing page quality has been shattered. I have more than a 1000 words on this page, and the site has over 60 indexed pages, navigation above the fold, contact page, privacy policy and so on.

I have no idea why this happened.

Mark Ling 15 years ago
Hi Yonatan,

It is hard for me to tell without seeing your website. You say you had 60 indexed pages, were they full of unique content? I've had websites slapped before that contained duplicate content (ie content from article sites etc), so it has to be unique. Was your landing page unique content? Or have you used this content elsewhere on your website or anywhere else? If it is used anywhere else you should have it no-index no-follow.

Are you affiliating to trustworthy products? If not that could be a problem too. e.g. satellite tv on pc sites have been known to get slapped badly often, regardless of the quality and uniqueness of content.

Was the on page optimization of your ppc landing pages done correctly for each keyword phrase that you were bidding on? Or did you just use the same landing page for all your keywords? (try to get an A in traffic travis page analysis feature.

Randy Carney 15 years ago

Thanks for the info about how to put in "no index" on our sites. I haven't tried it yet, but thanks for the link.

As for my earlier question about "DKI", I seem to have come across material that says that means "Dynamic Keyword Insertion," which is a phrase I do understand. That also seems to fit the context of the link where it was first brought up.

Thanks again for the replies.
Karl Menzies 15 years ago
HI All,
We built a site about 3 months ago - the site has no PPC pages just SEO optimised (A ratings total 18 pages) and link building with AMA and social bookmarking - the sites started to get pages ranked in top 10 last week and then within a week of being there the majority of our pages have been Google Slapped - raking dropped to over top 100

Can anyone explain why Google has done this?
I have noticed our Contact page had a error on it - I had previously turned it off as the contact form was getting spammed.

Does Google sandbox websites so no matter what we do the sites pages we will always have a low PR from manual review by Google?

Can anyone off a solution to get the website pages back up the rankings?
- add no follows on te affliate links?
- adding more pages?
- different product promo images?
- fixing the contact page?

The recommendation from Steven Clayton on
is to use a email sign up and not have any affliate links on your website.

This is completley different to the Affiliorama Training Methods so what do people think of this?

Your comments are all welcome!
Claire Jarrett 15 years ago
Still battling a Google slap, keywords keep dropping to 1, minimum bids extremely high. This is not an affiliate site either which I don't understand - it's a job application site! However it is only 5 pages so will definitely take a look at this. I must admit I am enjoying the challenge, and fixing it for my sites allows me to pass on my knowledge to clients for their sites.
Thomas Clark 15 years ago
Just got slapped today for the first time...How long do they expect you to pay $10 per click for every little thing...smh...
Troy Todd 15 years ago
Hi Claire,
Some blackhat CPA marketers use Job ad sites to gain income via blackhat methods when people submit to the job ad. Google is looking at CPA very closely right now.


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