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.
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. example.com/recommends/ab) 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?