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Will Google AdWords Quality Score Guidelines Set Trash Affiliate Earnings?

There’s been quite a bit of debate about how pay-per-click market leader Google AdWords’ Landing Page and Site Quality Guidelines is going to hit PPC affiliates.

Here’re some of the more hotly debated items from the the AdWords blog post “Websites that may merit low landing page  quality score“:

 Types of websites that will be penalized with low landing page quality scores:

  • Data collection sites that offer free gifts, subscription services etc., in order to collect private information
  • Arbitrage sites that are designed for the sole purpose of showing ads
  • Malware sites that knowingly or unknowingly install software on a visitor’s computer

If we receive user complaints about ads for the types of websites listed above, the advertisers of those websites may not be allowed to continue running AdWords ads for those websites.

“Data collection sites” will hit affiliates who use PPC to drive traffic to zip/email submit type offers or to an opt-in page for a free report.

And who’s going to file a “user complaint”? The visitor? Unlikely. More likely, a competitor who’s already trawling the adwords results appearing in the SERPs. [Just wait till a "report poor quality page" button unceremoniously appears on your Google toolbar...]

But that’s not all…

The following types of websites are likely to merit low landing page quality scores and may be difficult to advertise affordably. In addition, it’s important for advertisers of these types of websites to adhere to our landing page quality guidelines regarding unique content.

  • eBook sites that show frequent ads or install malware
  • ‘Get rich quick’ sites
  • Comparison shopping sites
  • Travel aggregators
  • Affiliates that don’t comply with our affiliate guidelines

Do note the use of “are likely” in term terms above.

It’s not a guaranteed slap, merely “likely”.

In case you missed the affiliate guidelines:

Affiliate Policy
We allow affiliates to use AdWords advertising. Please note that we’ll only display one ad for affiliates and parent companies sharing the same Display URL per search query. We also monitor and don’t allow the following:

  • Redirect URLs: Ads that contain Display URLs that automatically redirect to the parent company.
  • Bridge Pages: Ads for webpages that act as an intermediary, whose sole purpose is to link or redirect traffic to the parent company.
  • Framing: Ads for webpages that replicate the look and feel of a parent site.

So domain redirects, iframes are “likely” to go out the window in time too.

Does this have anything to do with Google’s CPA ads?

The jury is still out, though Geordie observes:

Kiss the “work from home and make millions in your lawn-chair” sites good-bye. Feed-scraping travel and comparison engines are in for it too by the look of it (bizrate.com anyone?). When you read their affiliate guidelines, it’s clear that they’re targeting those affiliates using poor direct-linking strategies etc… not affiliates in general…

And an AdWords insider mentioned also on the hitlist:

extra long sales-letter style ebook pages due to their not approving of the ‘business model’ employed by these advertisers. Looks like judgment day is nigh for those sites too.

Now before anyone screams or writes a “Death of AdWords” report and gives it away or sells it for $7, realize that this directly affects the landing page.

I’m assuming if you’re planning to be in Internet Marketing for the long-haul, you’d have had a solid business plan in place and focused on creating a credible site, rather than a single HTML page hosted on a $2.99 .com domain…

It’s an interesting evolution to see Google’s developers working towards developing more human-like algorithmns.

Although the content scoring metrics might seem crude now (and probably a few genuine content sites might end up as collateral damage), smart marketers will focus on building a solid content site and using PPC to drive traffic and convert them to an offer on the “backend”, that’s the difference between a ‘speed dating/speed seduction’ type deal, rather than the old ‘wine-and-dine’ to build a long lasting (business) relationship.

If you’ve been focusing on building a long term business, neither this nor any future development should derail any plans you might’ve had. If you didn’t, you’d be scrambling to do some quick fixes till the next announcement…

Taking a longer term view, content creators and copywriters could see their cachet increase significantly as more site owners beef up their content.

“Death of AdWords?” Hardly.

This latest development will merely be a blip in affiliate earnings, if at all.

22 comments on Will Google AdWords Quality Score Guidelines Set Trash Affiliate Earnings?

  1. DerekBeau
    September 20, 2007 at 8:39 pm (4791 days ago)

    Good analysis of the changes Andrew. I’m actually excited about them, I would love for Google to knock out some of the low quality competition. The problem is that they rarely get everything right with this. I still see duplicate URLs (by purposely making typos), redirects, and iFrames all over the place.

  2. Rick
    September 21, 2007 at 2:04 am (4790 days ago)

    I think google talks a good game but they will only knock off the bottom feeders – the big money earners will get overlooked .. for awhile.. until they have every penny on this planet.. =)


  3. John Regan
    September 21, 2007 at 3:55 pm (4790 days ago)

    A well written post and a nice call to action – I must check my landing pages this weekend!

    However this really shouldnt come as a shock to us, especially those with SEO experience. Google launched a massive crusade against ‘thin affiliates’ (those sites that simply linked through to a Merchant with little or no unique content of their own). Working in travel I saw the effects of this, many super affiliates of ours crashed and burned, they had failed to add quality content.

    Yes the odd one got through the net, but in the main Googles’ cull worked and I if they employ that kind of tactic on landing pages I suspect there will be some tears to come.

  4. Stephan Miller
    September 26, 2007 at 7:40 pm (4785 days ago)

    Everyone has a “sky is falling” mentality is this business it seems. But for some of us, even if the sky were really falling, we still have to move forward.
    I have had no problems with using Adwords to promote affiliate programs though.

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