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|"Made for AdSense" sites|
In another thread, a member posted the URL (since removed) of what might be termed a classic "Made for AdSense" site. For the benefit of newcomers who haven't seen such sites, let me describe what this one is:
The overall topic is "widget ------ling." The site's home page consists of links to pages optimized for keyphrases such as "widget ------ling in Springfield," "widget ------ling in Shelbyville," "Christian widget ------ling," and so on. The site has several hundred pages in all.
If you go to the page on "widget ------ling in Elbonia," you'll find a block of standard text that has been modified via a script or search-and-replace program to read something like:
"This page is about widget ------ling in Elbonia. If you're interested in widget ------ling in Elbonia, you can read our information on widget ------ling in Elbonia or chat about widget ------ling in Elbonia to learn all about widget ------ling in Elbonia."
The left column consists of AdSense ads disguised as a navigation bar. (Colors have been modified to eliminate ad borders and make the the "Ads by Google" hard to see.)
Clearly, this site violates the Google TOS, which state that an AdSense publisher's pages can't be created "for the purpose of displaying ads" even if the content is on target. (One might also think that the borderless ads disguised as a navigation bar would violate the TOS, but they don't, because Google made the mistake of listening to publishers who insisted that control over ad colors was necessary for "site aesthetics.")
I'd like to think that, when Google discovers sites like this, it takes action. Such sites are bad for users, bad for advertisers, bad for Google Search, and bad for the credibility of Google's "content network" among current and future advertisers. The question is, what can Google to do to discourage the creation of such sites? Here are some ideas for discussion:
1) Require that publishers obtain Google's approval for each site or subdomain where the AdSense code is to be used. Better yet, use technical means to ensure that code isn't displayed on non-approved domains or subdomains.
2) "Sandbox" revenues of new accounts and new sites under existing accounts for a reasonable period--say, 60 to 90 days--or until the AdSense QC team has done a couple of spot-checks to make sure that the site is legitimate.
3) Perform regular spot checks of any account that has revenues above a certain figure.
4) Tighten up the color and layout requirements for AdSense ads: e.g., require that the ads have borders and don't allow them to be used in lieu of navigation bars.
5) Work more closely with the Google Search team, so that any site banned by Google Search is also banned by AdSense and vice versa.
These steps might not eliminate the problem of "Made for AdSense" sites that threaten the viability of contextual advertising and clutter Google's search results, but they'd be be a step in the right direction.
What I am saying is that most here would agree that we are in it for the money. I don't care if it is affiliates or whatever. The purpose of our sites are to get clicks and make money. Many people are commenting on ethics and what not. I am calling them on it. They hide behind their statment of having "useful" content that they consider ethical even though their purpose is the same and most spam sites. To make money. How many of them have I seen complain on WebmasterWorld that their CTR was down or their EPC is going to s**t. If your sole purpose is to provide useful content then what are you worried about.
Even if your site came before Adsense, you are still no doubt in it for the money. If not then why have it on your site. Don't give me the crap about well I thought I would give it a try. You did it to make money. To make clicks. That is all.
Who here can say that they make all of their content the best converting content for advertisers. Traffic from search engines. Do you target the best keywords for your content and advertisers to gain clicks and vistiors. I bet you do. How are you any different. Oh I see your "purpose" is to provide content right? Why? Just because it makes you feel good or to profit from it. Hmmmmm. Again why are you using adsense if all you need to do is feel good?
EFV gave a description when he started the thread. Most of us know *exactly* what he meant, because we've seen those pages in the SERPs and cursed at the webmasters that so pollute our information space.
Players in an ecosystem that attempt to make money by destroying value for others are called parasites. These sites do not add value, they destroy it and appropriate a sliver. Just like spammers do: use up Gigs of bandwidth, turn people off email, take up life-years of cumulative attention from millions of users- only to make a few hundred dollars.
The visitor is not better off: if the SEO'd page wasn't there, they most likely would still find what they were looking for. (Especially without SERP pollution)
Google may even be losing money in the short-term. If visitors didn't click on adsense-only sites, they would have gone somewhere else, and a good percentage of them would have clicked on an ad. If more advertisers use Adsense because they start getting better results... Google stands to win.
Also, the more lucrative Adsense is for legit publishers, the more they are likely to keep creating useful content, even in marginal niches. How much of the traffic are these keyword-sites taking? Supposing it's 10%, imagine getting a 10% raise. Naturally, Google also benefits. (further to the biological analogy, less money for parasites means more for the symbiotic relationships)
All in all, made for Adsense sites are cannibalizing Google, setting up a vicious feedback loop. They would have to be out of their minds to not try and crack down on it.
So a word to the wise: if you're one those polluters creating junk sites for the sole purpose of showing Adsense -and no, it's not grey, and you know exactly who you are- know that you're up against Google and the money could stop flowing any second. The only way you'll stay in business is if you can add unique value.
|Also, the more lucrative Adsense is for legit publishers, the more they are likely to keep creating useful content, even in marginal niches. |
The question is "what is useful?" I have seen "Directories" vilified on here to no end. I get compliments and comments about how useful my Directory is almost every day. I have yet to receive an email stating that the site is crap. To me that means the content is useful.
Besides, my 400 odd Directory pages produce spot-on ads virtually every time. My 1600 odd article pages generate a significant number of mistargeted ads.
Which is more useful to the visitor (and the advertiser for that matter)?
Hmm... a few people posted while I was composing my last reply.
Arubicus, you are making a logical mistake. Just because something makes me money doesn't mean it's the ONLY reason I do it. I might even choose not to do it at all if there was no money involved, and that still wouldn't prove that money was the only reason.
Also, contrary to what you claim, an optimized site is not necessarily equivalent to made-for-adsense sites. Most of us see a plain difference between a site as described in the first post of this thread, and others that could reach similarly high CTRs. Consider say, a product comparison site... search for what you want, either via Google or the site itself, and get a list of products that are appropriate- all aff links, with Adsense at the bottom.
The second approach is also optimized, but definitely ethical. Anyone using this would legimately worry if their CTR was down in the single digits. This is however in no way equivalent to the sites we were discussing...
"EFV gave a description when he started the thread. Most of us know *exactly* what he meant, because we've seen those pages in the SERPs and cursed at the webmasters that so pollute our information space." - danieljean
For one. Who in gods name says that that is YOUR or MINE or OUR information space? It is the SEARCH ENGINES space not ours.
Like I said. It isn't spammers fault. It is Google's fault. They are the one's who made this vague "made for adsense" rule. They are the one who isn't enforcing or even defining the rule. Don't get mad at the spammers get mad at google for ruining it for you. Oh oh. Don't do that. You might make them mad so lets turn the tables and complain about the spammers.
Listen, I know what you consider a spam site. I uderstand what you are all saying. PLease understand what I am saying. We are all in it for the clicks! Since we are all in it for the clicks, using the same argument against spammers you make yourself noting more than a hypocrite. Yes you heard correctly.
"Players in an ecosystem that attempt to make money by destroying value for others are called parasites."
Welcome to the human race. Have you ever destroyed value at any level to get what you want? I bet you have. Even your own values you went against them at one time or another. You are no different. We are all parasites living off of search engine results. Survival of the fittest if you will.
"So a word to the wise: if you're one those polluters creating junk sites for the sole purpose of showing Adsense -and no, it's not grey, and you know exactly who you are- know that you're up against Google and the money could stop flowing any second. The only way you'll stay in business is if you can add unique value. - danieljean
I wonder how many people actually find your site useful and how many find it as junk. I wonder what is going on in their mind when they click on one of your adsense ads.
The only way you'll stay in business is if you are ables to convert that value.
|Perhaps you are in the wrong community? |
I was not referring to the WW community.
BTW, without getting too much into a philosophical discussion the phrase "open minded majority" is at its core contradicting itself. Fact is eventually Google will take further action or will have to live with network reputation loss. The purpose of my participation in this discussions is to express my concern about how this could affect the publishers.
The ball is in Google's court, but as small of a piece of this whole thing as I am, I would like to express my POV.
/and yes some of those sites are black and not grey.
Again here is the logic. We humans don't do things based on logic. We do things based on feelings and beliefs. Many of which are even illogical to others. Beliefs can defy logic in many instances.
"Arubicus, you are making a logical mistake. Just because something makes me money doesn't mean it's the ONLY reason I do it. I might even choose not to do it at all if there was no money involved, and that still wouldn't prove that money was the only reason." - danieljean
Yes there are other reasons for your website. BUT WHY INCLUDE ADSENSE IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO MAKE MONEY? Answer that question. Yes you could do it without it. But what was the motivation to include adsense? Drum roll please...To make money.
After signing up we all decide what the hell lets tweak it and reposition the ads to increase CTR/EPC. Then lets raise our SE rankings by optimizing here and here and get more targeted traffic. An extra $***.** a day has been made from the same content you started with. Is this ethical? What is the difference between what I said above and the spam sites you are talking about. Are you the athority of what is ethical and not? Re-read some of my previous posts.
"equivalent to made-for-adsense sites"
Then tell me what is a made-for-adsense site. EXACTLY by google's standards not by your own without reading into their rule. I want you to read it to me.
Loan - This is what I am doing also. Expressing my POV. You are right. It is google's problem. Yes we are affected but in the end google will be the one to pay the price for it in the light of strong competition. We will just move on to the next.
Wonder what will it be like if we have pages and pages of scrapper sites on search results where the first page of the results are just scrapped from the second page, which used to be the first page that scraps the result from the current third, and so forth or a mixture of all of them.
Very soon all the search results will be looping around in circles. Wonder who benefits from it?
And google, yahoo and the other search engines will do absolutely nothing about it?
[edited by: kwngian at 2:53 am (utc) on Aug. 2, 2004]
|Again why are you using adsense if all you need to do is feel good? |
Who said anything about not wanting to earn money? The question isn't whether AdSense publishers should or shouldn't want to make money; it's whether an "anything goes" mentality is good for AdSense and publishers, or whether it will limit AdSense's growth and ultimately kill the golden goose.
In any event, what you or I feel is irrelevant. Google's program policies clearly state:
"No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant."
If you disagree with that policy, you shouldn't be arguing with us; you should be stating your case to Google.
|It is google's problem. Yes we are affected but in the end google will be the one to pay the price for it in the light of strong competition. |
I guess a lot of us also see this as our problem because of how it could adversely affect us.
Also, no one can give you Google's interpretation of the rules other that Google. What you see here is other publishers' interpretation of the rules and purpose of the program as has been presented by Google.
And yes, the reason why we all have adsense on our sites is for the money.
"No Google ad may be placed on pages published specifically for the purpose of showing ads, whether or not the page content is relevant." - EPV
I am saying we all break this rule. This is a publishers purpose unless they SELL subscriptions to generate their revenue. If you publish for reasons other than money in which you have no need for adsense or any other kind of advertising revenue. If and when you put adsense on your site you change into and advertising medium. Which the purpose of puting the freaking adsense ads on in the first place is to specifically for the purpose of showing ads and to generate clicks.
Do you understand. Whether it is spammers or us we all break this rule.
|I guess a lot of us also see this as our problem because of how it could adversely affect us. |
Yes, very soon there will be no CPC network like Adsense all thanks to these sites that generates 'accidental' clicks.
|Whether it is spammers or us we all break this rule. |
Only in the land of "no common sense". There is a reason for vague rules.
|Whether it is spammers or us we all break this rule. |
I haven't seen any signs of a massive purge, so it would appear that Google has a different interpretation.
Yes. We should know what those rules are for our own sake rather that sit here all the time wondering what is it they actually want and don't want in an adsense network. I do suspect that we will see more out of google. I believe that it should be in google's best interest that they maintain their own QUALITY as well and not completely look at the almighty click themselves.
The vague rules is a double edge sword. Yes they may in some way protect google by giving them more room to add and drop unwanted sites at their will, it opens the door to the sort that this disscussion is about. Too tight of rules can discourage webmasters just the same. It is up to Google no doubt. No law or rule or anything will prevent people from trying to take advantage of the system or ride that fine line of what is considered ethical or not.
"Yes, very soon there will be no CPC network like Adsense all thanks to these sites that generates 'accidental' clicks." - kwngian
Ahh yes a doomsayer. Nope it is google that allows these sites to continue using the program. We have this great CPC network like Adsense due to Google's technology and also those many many many good publishers that DO generate sites, pages, and content that "help" their advertisers convert by sending quality traffic. (Stop by EPV site for a good example)
|Even if your site came before Adsense, you are still no doubt in it for the money. If not then why have it on your site. Don't give me the crap about well I thought I would give it a try. You did it to make money. To make clicks. That is all. |
I'm sorry, but you're way off. I don't know if you realize it, but think that you are expressing a very narrow world view.
I started my first "big" ("big" being a relative term) site back in early 2001. I could afford the web hosting and I just wanted to do it. I guess I've always wanted to ramble and share my creative works and my "how to" articles all my life. It's a hobby.
One of my friends was constantly ragging on me because I did these sites for free. I ignored him for the most part (I enjoyed doing the site, that was payment enough!). Eventually, however, I joined an affiliate program where I sold books. There seemed no reason not to. I mentioned my favorite books all the time on this site, constantly was recommending books, so it didn't seem to be such a weird idea to join the affiliate program of my favorite online bookstore. I didn't expect much, perhaps $20 a month, just to pay for hosting fees, and for a long time that was all I got. And I was happy.
I then made an even larger site in 2002, on a specialized subject of which I am quite competent. Another "how to" site. I did this because I felt quite passionate about the subject at hand. I recommended books on this site (I was going to recommend them anyway) so I used the affiliate links for this site as well.
Sure, the money is nice, but in my case, it's really not that much. Just enough to buy more books (it's an addiction ;-) ) and to pay for the sites' expenses.
I was encouraged by other webmasteres to try Adsense, so I've done that. Because the money is nice. But I don't expect to make that much. But it's nice, sure. However, the sites way pre-dated the ads and the content on the sites is all about me expressing my opinions, sharing ideas, helping people out, and so forth. The ads are to help me do that without losing money.
That's it. I do not do this because I want to rake in the big bucks. I don't see that happening. I have no idea what keywords are big sellers, and even if I knew, it wouldn't change anything. I can only create sites about stuff I care about. Otherwise, it'll be a cheat—to me, and to my site visitors.
I believe that there are many others out there like me. The ads help pay for effort and expenses that go into the creation of the sites, and they are great—kind of like "found money" that we don't rely on, but sure enjoy.
[edited by: yosemite at 3:36 am (utc) on Aug. 2, 2004]
|I am saying we all break this rule. |
Speak for yourself.
AdSense is paying for the time I spent developing a site beginning back in 1996. Thanks to the monetization of niche content, I'm able to keep the site online, despite costs. Purely content, evergreen, to use EFV's term, created before AdSense or any such scheme existed. ROI.
You're painting an awfully broad stroke with that brush. If the charges had merit, I suspect Google would be right there behind you with an even bigger broom.
|...friends was constantly ragging on me because I did these sites for free. |
:) This used to happen to me all the time.... The question was always... "so how much do you charge?"
Humbling yourself. Why did you use and affiliate program and not link to the books without it. Why did you give in? Why did you go to adsense. What purpose are these vehicles you chose other than to make money. I din't say big money. I just said money.
"The ads help pay for effort and expenses that go into the creation of the sites, and they are great—kind of like "found money" that we don't rely on, but sure enjoy."
The money is a return on value. The effort and expenses. Just like any other business. To stay alive. Yes you can do without but the purpose of those ads on your site is to MAKE MONEY!
"AdSense is paying for the time I spent developing a site beginning back in 1996. Thanks to the monetization of niche content, I'm able to keep the site online, despite costs. Purely content, evergreen, to use EFV's term, created before AdSense or any such scheme existed. ROI." - lars
That is a load of crap. See my some of my previous posts. We all break that general rule. You offer the ads on your site do you not. The purpose you put those ads on are to display those ads and to generate clicks. You moved them, changed colors, optimized, chose content, or wording based on what will generate you more money. In other words converting your site into on that is made for adsense!
You believe that google is paying you for all of your previous years of hard work. That is statement is yours to believe. It is false in my opinion but none the less yours. You are the one paying yourself for all of the hard work you have done. Yes google writes the check but your content is what is making it happen:)
You put those ads on to stay afloat and survive. To generate a revenue. That is the purpose you moved your site into that is the purpose of putting those ads on there and those clicks you get.
Think of a huge publiser. Their sole purpose is to generate advertising revenue. Should those sites be excluded by google vague definition? Probably not in my opinion but still they are designed for the purpose of showing ads.
[edited by: arubicus at 3:58 am (utc) on Aug. 2, 2004]
If I want the services of a massage therapist, I don't go to a massage parlour. They both charge money for a massage, though!
arubicus- I haven't got Adsense on my site yet... since people are finding me and contacting me for services, I'm assuming it's filling its role: I am in an extremely small niche, so chances are people only find me if they're looking.
Since some people here had their sites up before Adsense existed, it makes little sense for you to accuse them of anything, don't you think? The purpose of the ad is to make money, but the purpose of the site was not - and that is what we were discussing.
Very well. Any spam sites set up before this then they are immune to the rule?
What about large publishers who replace their current advertising schemes they had set up before with adsense ads. Wasn't their site made for the purpose of showing ads?
Is the rule limitied to only those who start their publishing service AFTER adsense came about?
|Humbling yourself. Why did you use and affiliate program and not link to the books without it. |
I was lazy, I guess. I knew about the bookstore affiliate program but I did not bestir myself to use it. There were no pressing financial concerns motivating me to sign up with an affiliate, or anything. I had enough money to maintain the site. It was like a light went off over my head one day and I thought, "I'll give this a try!" That was basically it.
"Give in"? You act as if I sullied myself, or something. I just decided to give it a try. It was a big job, to translate all those book links (that I'd had up for a couple of years) into the affiliate links, but I guess I finally had the energy to do it. And I figured, why not? I like trying new things once in a while, and other sites, similar to mine, had done it too. And maybe I'd make a little money as well. So, why not?
Why did you go to adsense.
Another "why not?" moment.
|What purpose are these vehicles you chose other than to make money. I din't say big money. I just said money. |
They exist to allow me to express myself and to help other people. Like I'd been doing, at my own expense, for a couple of years before I signed up for the affiliate program.
|The money is a return on value. The effort and expenses. Just like any other business. To stay alive. Yes you can do without but the purpose of those ads on your site is to MAKE MONEY! |
Uh, yeah. I think that the checks we get in the mail give us this hint that we are going to get money. ;)
But the sites are going to exist whether or not they make money. If Adsense and the bookstore affilate program folded tomorrow, the sites would still remain. Because I did them as a labor of love and because I enjoy sharing the information that is on them.
The reason I got involved with Adsense and the bookstore was kind of like, "Why not?" and "The money would be nice, what have I got to lose?" I had done all the work anyway, and did the work without any expectation of compensation. But since there was a way to make money that wasn't too gaudy or tacky and wasn't going to turn off my visitors (this is an issue with me), then, once again, why not? Why see a site make $0 when it can make $XXX just because you added a few snippets of code to each page? Why not?
Obviously I do not take this issue to heart as much as you do, and I do not feel as passionate as you do about it. The spirit and content of sites have always been #1 for me, not the money. The sites are some of my proudest accomplishments. I didn't do them for the money, the money is a wonderful afterthought and I really like it. But they existed way before money was a consideration, and would so again, if it came to that.
I've read each of your posts carefully, arubicus. Your statements in this thread regarding site owner motivation are unsupported by evidence, anecdotal or otherwise, from the AdSense program team. Repetition doesn't magically transform opinion into fact or reality. I've been on the Internet since Arpanet. I do not *need* AdSense to survive. I do appreciate it, however. Makes it much more likely that I'll invest in some of the quality content that differentiates my site from the "made for AdSense" sites. I'm absolutely unworried about vague phrasing in the TOS.
yosemite - Great post BTW. Glad you dug a little deeper
lars - What statement are you looking for fact on?
|Think of a huge publiser. Their sole purpose is to generate advertising revenue. Should those sites be excluded by google vague definition? Probably not in my opinion but still they are designed for the purpose of showing ads. |
No, they're designed to profit by serving an audience. That's what "publishing" (in the traditional, non-AdSense meaning of the word) is all about. Revenues can come from advertising sales, subscriptions, newsstand sales or downloads, syndication, sales of archived articles, sales of "the day you were born" front-page reprints, or whatever the publisher finds workable. By fulfilling its mission of providing readers with news, entertainment, or information, the publisher is able to monetize its content.
Enough about publishing. Let's get back to AdSense:
For those of you who have trouble grasping what's meant by "pages that are published specifically for the purpose of showing ads," I suggest trying this simple test: Cover the ads on the page with a scrap of paper and see what's left. Would the page entertain, inform, or serve a business function without ads? If the AdSense network shut its doors tomorrow, would the page in question have a reason to exist?
I din't say you needed adsense. I was saying that your purpose is to make money. To show ads and to get clicks. I bet you have tweaked some of those pages. I bet you looked into which words/wording would generate the best ads. I bet you try to raise your rankings and get more traffic to the more lucrative pages. Yep I have no doubt that you have broken the "made for adsense" rule. That was my point.
Ahhhhhh I have been wainting for you EPV.
One thing and I will drop the publisher bit and not respond to any responses to it.
"No, they're designed to profit by serving an audience." - EPV
Yep and how do they do that EPV. Design for ads. Wheter it be their own products, subscriptions, advertisers, downloads or whatever.
"By fulfilling its mission of providing readers with news, entertainment, or information, the publisher is able to monetize its content." - EPV
No this is the vehicle. Their intent is to make money.
"Would the page entertain, inform, or serve a business function without ads? If the AdSense network shut its doors tomorrow, would the page in question have a reason to exist?" - EPV
Agreed. Well I have always agreed to the subject of this discussion:) If other information is on it then in a way isn't this in some way to inform users? Not saying I agree with my question, it would be an argument by those site webmasters.
|I bet you have tweaked some of those pages. I bet you looked into which words/wording would generate the best ads. I bet you try to raise your rankings and get more traffic to the more lucrative pages. Yep I have no doubt that you have broken the "made for adsense" rule. That was my point. |
You'd be mistaken.
Really? Or did you just say that to win and satisfy your ego?
When you write and article or content do you specific terms or generalize? What about your navigation? Your title of your pages? Your descriptions? Your links?
| This 218 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 218 ( 1 2 3  5 6 7 8 ) > > |