It appears that a recent change (or increase in enforcement) of the Google guidelines for Pay Per Click landing page quality score has seen an unknown number of Adwords customers either sternly warned, or banned outright, often with little or no explanation, and allegedly without recourse.
Starting at the end of last month, Adwords users began reporting a series of emails from Google, either warning them or banning them, due to “multiple submissions of poor quality landing pages” in their pay per click Adwords campaigns.
Google Guidelines On Quality
Google has, of course, always had quality score requirements for its Adwords. A bad quality score could always negatively affect your account. It just seems to be applying them with considerably more strictness of late.
It appears that they’ve not yet made any public announcements about the issue, although some users have reported that they’ve successfully had their bans rescinded.
Quality score was first introduced by Adwords in 2005, to help determine the value of keywords, and to try and ensure that users find what they’re looking for when they click on an ad. Soon after, they began to calculate a landing page quality score as well, to make sure that the pages the ad pointed to were relevant to the advertisement.
In the absence of an official comment, let’s review some of their landing page and site quality guidelines.
* Users should be able to easily find what your ad promises.
* Link to the page on your site that provides the most useful information about the product or service in your ad. For instance, direct users to the page where they can buy the advertised product, rather than to a page with a description of several products.
In other words, you need to make sure that the landing page, and the advertisement, have identical subjects. If your ad is for Widgets, then the page that it points to should not only be about Widgets, (and contain prominent Widget related keywords), but it should be the very page from which a user can buy Widgets as well.
* Feature unique content that can’t be found on another site. This guideline is particularly applicable to resellers whose site is identical or highly similar to another reseller’s or the parent company’s site, and to affiliates.
The guidelines go on to explain that this applies especially to resellers and affiliates who use bridge sites, (which act as an intermediary site that redirects to the seller), and mirror pages, that replicate the look and feel of a parent site. (Effectively, Adwords seems to disapprove of either of these kind of sites, and recommend that they not be used if possible.)
* Provide substantial information. If your ad does link to a page consisting mostly of ads or general search results (such as a directory or catalog page), provide additional, unique content.
Sites that consist entirely or mostly of advertising are not recommended.
The guidelines say that, in order to build trust with users, your site should be explicit in three primary areas: the nature of your business; how your site interacts with a visitor’s computer; and how you intend to use a visitor’s personal information, if you request it.
They offer the following suggestions regarding transparency:
* Openly share information about your business. Clearly define what your business is or does.
* Honor the deals and offers you promote in your ad.
* Deliver products and services as promised.
* Only charge users for the products and services that they order and successfully receive.
* Distinguish sponsored links from the rest of your site content.
Site / Visitor Interaction
* Avoid altering users’ browser behavior or settings (such as back button functionality or browser window size) without first getting their permission.
* If your site automatically installs software, be upfront about the installation and allow for easy removal.
Visitors Personal Information
* Unless necessary for the product or service that you’re offering, don’t request personal information.
* Give options to limit the use of a user’s personal information, such as the ability to opt out of receiving newsletters.
* Allow users to access your site’s content without requiring them to register, or, provide a preview of what users will get by registering.
* Provide a short and easy path for users to purchase or receive the product or offer in your ad. *Avoid excessive use of pop-ups, pop-unders, and other obtrusive elements throughout your site.
* Make sure that your landing page loads quickly.
If you bear these guidelines in mind, you should be able to ensure that your Adwords landing pages are acceptable to Google.
In short, remember to keep your landing page relevant to the ad, display your terms and details prominently, and make it easy for the potential client to get what they want and are looking for.
If you keep user utility and usability in mind, you shouldn’t go too far wrong.