How To Avoid A Google Slap: 6 Tried and Tested Techniques

By Affilorama Group
How To Avoid A Google Slap: 6 Tried and Tested Techniques


A slap is not usually a pleasant thing and particular when it hits your PPC campaign in the form of a “Google Slap”. It's a phrase that is often misunderstood to refer to any perceived punishment from the major search engine including a drop in the rankings or being de-indexed, but it only has to do with your AdWords campaign.

A Google Slap is when your ad and associated landing pages are determined to be of such poor quality (known as the Google Quality Score) that Google will endeavor to remove your ad from the paid listings by lowering its position and raising the bid price so your campaign is no longer economical.

There are stories (both real and urban legend) of websites that have never recovered from a Google Slap. In fact, common practice seems to be abandon the domain that has been slapped and start again.

So by now you know enough to know that you want do everything you can to avoid the Slap. But how? Here's 6 tried and tested techniques to keep you from getting slapped by the long arm of the Google AdWords team.

1 – Have a multiple page website – Linking your ad to a single page site just won't cut it anymore. It doesn't matter how relevant that one page is, if it's not part of a larger, more established site then Google doesn't see your site as being helpful to the visitor. Ideally, your site should contain at least 10-15 pages of unique quality content, plus a Privacy Policy and About Us/Contact Us pages.

2 – Link to other pages on your site – When a visitor clicks through to your landing page you don't want them distracted to click through to other pages on your site. You want them to focus on your sales message. This means you might want to remove that menu sidebar for your landing pages. At the same time it's important you do have links to other parts of your site somewhere on your page, perhaps at the bottom of the page.

3 – Avoid additional advertising – Apart from your main sales message, you might be tempted to get revenue from your paid traffic in other ways, such as by using AdSense. The danger here is that it increases the risk that your page will be viewed as irrelevant.

4 – Don't bounce visitors directly to an affiliate link - Links directly from your landing page to an external affiliate site are not viewed by Google as a quality user experience. Convert your affiliate links into redirects, sending them first to a page on your site (e.g. that automatically sends them to your ClickBank hoplink. Check out this lesson on how to build redirects.

5 – Keyword-optimize the landing page – The content on the landing page should be tightly focused on the keyword you are bidding on. This is a good reason for having separate landing pages for different ad groups. You want to make sure that when the user clicks on your ad and arrives at your site their immediate thought is 'Yes! I've found what I've been looking for.'

6 – Don't skimp on landing page content – Avoid the temptation to send visitors through to your affiliate link as soon as possible. Keep in mind that a valuable landing page, packed with relevant and unique content of benefit to the user is a great investment in keeping your PPC costs down.

Engaging pages not only have a substantial amount of text (e.g. 500 words) but can also include images and embedded videos to keep the visitor on the page longer. Don't forget your SEO when including images or video on the page. Google can't “view” these elements so it's a good idea to include your keyword in the image name, the alt text and captions to describe the element's contents.

Sure it's not the end of the world if you do get slapped but it's the end of your campaign and you can either wait it out (could be months), setup your campaign on a new domain or move to another advertiser like Yahoo! or MSN. The smart thing is to try and avoid it in the first place.

So what techniques do you use to avoid the sting of a Google Slap? Have you ever been slapped (by Google that is) and how did you recover?

Wayne O'Sullivan 14 years ago
"There are stories (both real and urban legend) of websites that have never recovered from a Google Slap. In fact, common practice seems to be abandon the domain that has been slapped and start again"

Wow I didnt know it was that bad that we have to abandon our domain... Could we have some more info on what exactly happens to our domains if we are slapped?
James Pruitt 14 years ago
great post. Not Doing PPC yet but will definetely keep this in mind for when I do.
Rich Hessler Solar 14 years ago
I have never been google slapped (or even heard of it). Sounds like google has quite a bit of power - especially with its ability to choose who will succeed and who will fail.
colston hughes 14 years ago
Bo Stanley Larsen 14 years ago
I used a significant tool by Peter Drew to get memberships of some high ranking sites, in order to improve my own site ranking. That is a socalled third party software, that google doesn't allow. I used it in a stupid way and was recognized, and google told me that they stopped the adsense ads to my 50 sites. ( As you don't get paid much for a non-special-goaled site, economically it was of not much significance) but not being able to show adsense ads to sites that are designed for adsense ads, among other stuff, isn't funny. It ruins your layout.
I'm not sure that you can use it in a clever way, and not get caught. I do not know. But I know the risk and the feeling you get when google wont deliver your adsense ads. Power, yes.
James Chambers 14 years ago
Boy I am just getting into PPC and already you are scaring the daylights out of me. I am working with a site that has about 30,000 indexed pages in the real estate market and if the domain has to be trashed it would cost a fortune. Currently we have a contractor handling our pPc and I am trying to learn enough to take it over. The current contractor does not do much in the way of SEO or landing page quality, the only relevance the do at all is for example when the keyword is lets say "Chicago real estate" they are sending the visitor to a page that is simply a query for "Chicago homes" so it is relevant, but nothing else... ... but I am now more concerned that I might get in trouble trying to qualify the landing pages and lose the whole site. Any thoughts before I take my tail between my legs and run away..
Jason Dodd 14 years ago
I think while all of this can sound scary, the key thing to keep in mind is that Google are not looking to punish legitimate advertisers but as you can see in this previous post to do ( Google need to balance the interests of 3 parties - the advertiser, the user and Google.

Google will discourage advertisers who are not providing a relevant or quality experience for their users by raising their bid prices i.e. slap them.

But if you are a legitimate advertiser and not trying to spam the ad results then you won't have anything to worry about. It's also worth looking at using the Google Site Optimizer to check how your site stacks up.

@wosull A slap is related more to the keyword(s) you are bidding on and not so much your actual site however some AdWords users have found that a really bad QS for their keywords has been linked to their site and it has been too much of an effort to recover their QS - it has been easier for them just to start a new site.
ryan 14 years ago
I never slapped by google.
rinazafira 14 years ago
this article is great, it helps me to know about google rank for my website
shuvo 14 years ago
your are right.Avoiding additional advertising is really important to avoid a google slap
bankain 14 years ago
awesome..helpfull info..although i never get slapped
adam nagikutas 14 years ago
I never slapped by google.
Lilly(LPGen2)j 14 years ago
Being Google Slapped is a nasty thing for many website creators as well as a huge pain in the butt. This is a great website that explains a lot of information for those who dont know much about it.As Google's checking on websites get more and more everyday its great to get some good information to help avoid it at any cost.
Stew Shaw 14 years ago
Hi. I've already submitted a comment on your 12/24 post on this topic. Between writing that one and now this, I found and read a thread in the Google AdWords help forum containing hundreds of posts from very angry affiliate marketers and direct advertisers alike who, like me, had been forever banned without warning. Only one guy got a specific explanation from AdWords, and it related to a "business opportunity" offer ad he ran for only a few minutes then closed himself. For having 6 bad clicks, out of 151,000 clicks on legit campaigns they had been handsomely paid for, he's been shown the door for all time.

I think the time's fast coming when PPC and affiliate promotion is a bad combination. Or just PPC and promoting anything. The Slap is dead; it's now the Ban. Be warned.
Kat 14 years ago
Ya, Google actually confiscated my account. They wouldn't tell me a specific reason, but that the landing pages were not of quality for the user experience. I figure it's 'cause I linked directly to a merchant landing page, rather than go through a website of my own. Too bad, I was getting quite a few sales with those landing pages. So much for poor user experience, if people are buying! Sheesh!
Ritu Raj Mishra 14 years ago
HI, Very nice article. Actually i also got slapped by Google, when they lowered my QS from 8 to 2 and then stopped my ads permanently. This was because i was just promoting my product using a sales landing page. But after i had figured out the problem and did the same as stated in steps 2 and 4, like i have added a link to articles page which itself had 4 more links to unique articles, also i did PHP redirect like, my quality score improved and the campaign restarted...
Kat 13 years ago
I have been permanently banned from using Google AdWords which is too bad, 'cause I was getting quite a few sales through their PPC. They never give you a reason as to what you need to do exactly to avoid their scolding. This is annoying. They just throw generic info. at you and expect you to figure it out. Well, in checking with Internet Marketing gurus, it's perhaps 'cause I was linking directly to merchant sales pages, rather than going through my own landing pages. Funny thing is though I had been going about it the way I was for months without any slaps.
Instinctis 13 years ago
From my not so vast experience, the fastes way of checking the indexed pages and backlinks for an website is by this free tool at which also returns a seo analisys report downloadable as pdf.