| This 218 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 218 ( 1 2 3 4  6 7 8 ) > > || |
|"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.
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?
|...there is no reason Google has to police those sites! ... |
|The reason is: That is not how the program is being sold to advertisers. |
Exactly! It's not how it's being sold to adsense publishers either. Right now I am glad to have adsense on my site as it has a pretty good reputation. If people keep finding adsense on these low quality sites that simply trick the searcher in web surfers will start associating adsense with garbage.
|A customer on a flight must love airline food otherwise they wouldn't eat it. ;-) |
Great analogy! Or maybe it's more like finding you are on the wrong plane and desperately trying to get off.
|It is presumptuous to dictate the look and feel of someone else's website |
Not if the site is dragging down the reputation of google ads and if google has claimed the sites will be good quality to the people paying for the ads.
|I have an email from G saying that my pure SPAM site is ok with them. |
Hmm, that makes me really hope that some spam free alternatives to adsense will be deveoped by some other companies soon.
|another reason is because I do not want to see my brand associated with some very questionable spam sites. |
I feel the same way as an adsense publisher. I don't want any spammy ads bringing my sites down. The success I've had with my sites depend on my good reputation. Many of my visitors come by word or mouth (email, message boards, small site links) Thanks goodness I can block a spammy ad the minute I see it. I've cleared out a lot of them and rarely have to block one now.I don't understand why google doesn't let advertisers block adsense sites just like we with adsense can block ads. I think that would go a long way in solving the problem.
|What is considered useful? |
I know what I don't consider useful. Scraper sites at the top of google serps that get in the way of my finding the information I'm looking for. These sites do not help me find what I want, they just waste my time. Recently I was trying to find home improvement info and the garbage at the top of the google serps were a nightmare. Most included adsense ads.
|Even if you take a stand which way or another, this dosen't clear up any gray area. |
It's not the gray area I'm concerned about. It's the absolute cr*p. It annoys surfers and brings down the reputation of adsense.
Good post annej.
I actually have nothing else to say:)
What's to win? Or lose, for that matter. The purpose of discussion is to illuminate, not eliminate, differences, and to learn from viewpoints and perspectives that might be different from ones own.
My site was born in '96. Legacy sites rise in the SERPs to become authority sites when visitors "vote" their content useful with inbound links. The site's been selected in the ODP and other Editor's Picks (PC Mag, Yahoo Internet Life, and others) as an authority site. It's also used and linked by hundreds of .edu sites in their education programs. It's been quoted and pictured in several of the Dummies series books. In fact, it's likely that you or your sitebuilder referenced my site in order to build your own. The content is "evergreen", unchanging, but rotated so that content showcased, rather than static. Placement/ranking has been steady (first or second page) over the past five years. Millions of page views, before AdSense ever came along. The site exists irrespective of advertising or AdSense. The purpose of my site is to educate and inform. AdSense is gravy.
AdSense, thankfully, wasn't created with just one type of site in a very strict mold. It's an umbrella program that fits many different types of sites, profit and non-profit.
I have no trouble understanding the concept of "made for AdSense sites" -- they pollute the SERPs in nearly every search. They come and go as Google finds ways of detecting and eliminating them.
But if I, from the same economic system and similar philosophy and geography (Google couldn't have been "born" anywhere but in California), took some time to grasp the Google vision of the world, I have no doubt that it's even more complicated for those who come from other systems, or are new to global capitalism. Google is lenient, and believes in the good in users, partners, publishers, until proven wrong. Once proven wrong, their actions are draconian, but them's that has the gold gets to make those rules. I've always played by them, or even stricter ethics of my own, so I have no need to fear the statements that allow Google to police the SERPs or AdSense publishers. You go, Google.
Really? Or did you just say that to win and satisfy your ego?
Are you accusing someone of lying here?
|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? |
I'd like to address my own situation here.
No, I didn't need to alter anything for Adsense. I had learned how to do search engine optimization of my sites a while before I even heard of Adsense, and long before I signed up with the bookstore. I wanted to optimize my site (not too much, I was warned against that) so that people would visit it. After all, what was the point of creating a site if no one knew it existed? And I wanted people to know it existed—not for the money (because I wasn't making any at the time and it wasn't on my mind to make money) but because it's human nature to want to share something after you've invested so much effort into its creation. And I definitely wanted people to be able to find my site on the search engines.
So, when I added the Adsense code to my site, I didn't have to change one thing. I just plopped in the code at the bottom of the page, and moved on. Boom boom boom. That was it.
Frankly, I'm not sure what the deal is with some of your arguments. You seem determined to not believe some of us when we tell you that catering to Adsense is not our top priority.
Granted, the money is nice and I'm guessing that most of us want it to keep on coming. But speaking for myself (and many others, I'll warrant), I would not create a site with just for Adsense, and I wouldn't dramatically alter a site just for Adsense. I could see myself making subtle tweaks or changes down the road (kind of in the spirit of "why not?") but I could just as easily see myself getting caught up in some other project and leaving the code on my pages as they are now.
If I ever were to decide to create a site where generating income is a higher priority (which I have not done yet), then I would still try to keep a certain standard and not cheat the visitor with empty keyword-rich phrases. Because I know how much those sites irritate me, and I certainly would not want to be guilty of creating one myself.
With a template, a database, some open source content and a little know how you can build a very large shiny site with 1000’s of pages of useful content, that looks, feels, tastes and smells like an authority - all in an afternoon and all for adsense.
And Your worried about site scraping c**p.
I am glad to see such credentials. I myself have a long list just as you. It makes no difference. I still would like to know why you put adsense on your site.
arubicus, do you think that it's possible—just possible—that Lars and the rest of us put Adsense on our sites because we might as well? The site exists, we were going to make it anyway, so why not get money for it? To quote myself again, "Why not?"
Let's put it another way—perhaps you'll understand this perspective: let's say you adopted a pet. You feed and care for this pet and take it to the vet when it needs it. You love this pet and when you got it you knew that you would be totally responsible for it and you were okay with that.
Let's say that one day you discover that there is a program out there that will help you pay for the expenses of feeding and caring for this pet. Let's say that you can get this money through very little inconvenience to you, and with no social stigma. Would you say no? Why?
And if you were to accept this financial help in the upkeep of your pet, would you now believe that you only kept the pet because of the money? Would you now believe that if the money stopped, you'd throw the pet out? Would you like it if other people accused you of that?
Completely off from what I was saying. You signed up for adsense not for the may as well. To make money. Your pet example is the same. You use the program so that you don't have to take it out of your own pocket thus making money or increasing revenue decreasing expenses. You use adsense to pay for your upkeep, time and energy. Just the same as any other business.
"because we might as well?"
Yep you may as well what? Answer this question please.
arubicus, I believe I already answered that question. Actually, I think I've answered it several times.
I also "might as well" take money for breathing (if, indeed, someone were handing out money for something like that ;)). I am going to breathe anyway, no matter what. And if I discover that someone wants to pay me for it? I might as well take it, as long as I think they're getting something out of the deal. Because I might as well take some money (that someone else wants to give me for something I'm going to do anyway) as not. So, why would I not take it? Many of us could use a little extra money, and it seems to be a no-brainer to take it for someting that we have already done.
I don't know how many other ways I can answer it, and frankly, I wonder what it is that you are finding so unclear, since you seem to continually ask the same question, over and over again. And when we answer you in a way that you find displeasing, you appear to dismiss our answers, imply that perhaps we are being dishonest in our answers, etc. etc.
I confess, I am quite lost as to what the deal is here.
|I still would like to know why you put adsense on your site. |
Extention of information via hypertext is the web's raison d'être. I link quality subject-related resources, including the contextual links offered through AdSense. The AdSense contextual advertisers provide constantly updated linkage to quality sources of related information, extending my own content, and improving the visitor experience. Conveniently, AdSense pays me for web page real estate rental. Win/win.
|without getting too much into a philosophical discussion the phrase "open minded majority" is at its core contradicting itself. |
Too late. Naturally I disagree, I believe that 'close minded' people are NOT in the majority, but in any case my statement is not 'contradicting itself at its core' as the phrase, which you chose to truncate, was 'more open minded majority'. You deleted the word 'more'. I was comparing the majority to your particular form of absolutism on this issue.
|/and yes some of those sites are black and not grey. |
Absolutism again. Now, if your were to show me examples, I might well agree with you that they were extremely bad, but not everyone will share the same view - we don't all share the same values, or the same moral, ethnic or religious background. I have close friends who would see any site promoting money lending as 100% Evil, whether produced for Adsense or not. Your 'black' is somebody's 'light grey' and vice versa - community values tend to be less easy to define when the community is the entire world.
I agree, though, the ball is in Google's court - not ours.
I also agree that some of the 'Adsense Only' sites are bad for business for the rest of us, although the 'relevancy' adjustment to revenue addresses this in part.
The decisions made by Google will hopefully be based on sound financial principals. If they choose to take a long term financial view, they will seek to reduce the worst of the nasty-spammy made for Adsense sites.
Lets hope that the pressures of the IPO and its aftermath allow them to take a long term view.
Nobody is saying that decisions, positions or actions need to be approved by 100% of the people. That would lead to inertia. Wait, maybe this is what you are saying? nm then.
You have a good outlook on the whole thing. It kind of reminds me of when I was in my early teens and for a little while I thought "You know this communism doesn’t sound so bad after all…. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all?......"
|Lets hope that the pressures of the IPO and its aftermath allow them to take a long term view. |
agreed. I don't think there will be that much pressure on them actually. If the stock tanks, I would expect them to take it private again.
I know the mods are considering closing this thread. I encourage them to keep it open, or else kill this as a topic.
This subject comes up in a new thread every day or two. I for one would rather have one thread to ignore than new threads all the time to ignore.
If this one gets killed, a certain poster who opens these threads frequently will just open a new one.
The ball is in Google's court. They make the rules. They have to enforce them. They have made a decision to make the TOS very vague as a CYA measure.
They won't explain that tactics X, Y, and Z in specific terms are against the TOS. But that is fine because it's their ball park and they can play the game any way they like and kick anyone they want off the field.
But they also have to be prepared for the downside of this strategy: when the rules aren't clearly laid out they will be interpreted in thousands of different ways. Some, like me, prefer to play it safe. I make a considerable amount from AdSense and I don't want to lose it.
Others prefer to push it to the limit, maximize revenues at all costs while accepting the inherent risk of getting booted. While I personally won't go that route, I can certainly understand it.
Many publishers posting here think "scraped sites" and other "gray area" tactics are beneath contempt. Others think these tactics are perfectly valid under the TOS. The fact is both camps are correct and it will stay tht way as long as the "system" stays as it is.
In a nutshell, the options for Google are clear IMO:
1 - Keep the TOS vague and deal with those who cross the invisible line however and whenever they have to, relying on the publishers' collective fear of getting booted to keep us on the conservative side (unfortunately for many publishers this tactic doesn't work).
IMO this option is unwise for the long term because formidable competition is indeed coming, most likely on several fronts, and Google will need a high level of publisher loyalty when that time comes.
2 - Spell out in explicit terms what is acceptable and what is not. Give clear examples. Let all publishers know where the line is and make it clear that we had better not cross it. Sure, there will be unforseen situations that arise that are not in Google's best interest, yet are not against the TOS. Easy solution: amend the TOS!
Google makes changes to the TOS, FAQs, etc. all the time. There is no reason why they can't use this as a way to evolve the rules when needed.
I sincerely hope for the long-term success of AdSense for the selfish reason that it makes me a lot of money. I also sincerely believe that this current way of presenting the TOS will be seen by many (including Google) as a mistake in the not so distant future.
|With a template, a database, some open source content and a little know how you can build a very large shiny site with 1000’s of pages of useful content, that looks, feels, tastes and smells like an authority - all in an afternoon and all for adsense. |
And Your worried about site scraping c**p.
I wouldn't call it worried, more irritated and disappointed that Google is allowing it.
I am worried about the use of supposedly 'open source content'. What do you mean by that? Some of what site builders consider 'open source' includes articles and other materials I and other content site builders have spent hours and even weeks researching and writing.
|You have a good outlook on the whole thing. It kind of reminds me of when I was in my early teens and for a little while I thought "You know this communism doesn’t sound so bad after all…. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all?......" |
Painting me as an idealist is about as untrue as you could get, but it makes a change from being called a twisted cynic.
I am not having a go at you LU, but from where I stand it is your view that looks idealistic. The Blind men and the Elephant [cs.princeton.edu] fable applies to all of us, its just that some of us realise it and others don't.
"'open source content'. What do you mean by that? "
Any site published under the GNU Free Documentation License. or similar.
|Spell out in explicit terms what is acceptable and what is not. Give clear examples. Let all publishers know where the line is and make it clear that we had better not cross it. Sure, there will be unforeseen situations that arise that are not in Google's best interest, yet are not against the TOS. Easy solution: amend the TOS! |
In the same way that Google's spelled out what constitutes PR and results ranking, and provides examples of over-optimization? < /devil's advocate :-P >
I'd think Google is much more likely to continue their established pattern of vagueness with the AdSense TOS than they are to suddenly amend it with specifics. Google has stated over and over that they act differently than most organizations. In areas where complete automation is not possible, they prefer to take each situation on a case-by-case basis. Vagueness serves this approach well. Google may eventually come out with an AdSense "guidelines" document similar in nature to their Webmaster Guidelines, but that's probably some time further down the road.
I believe that the base "problem" can be attributed to Google's corporate communication style, which is poorly understood outside the company itself. Individuals communicate clearly. I've been repeatedly amazed at the communication skills of various Google contacts. However, with most group or corporate communications attempting to elucidate corporate policy, these stellar communication skills are not evident. Google's collective pronouncements are often mysterious, vague, or even, at times, naive. Approved, and well understood inside the Google community, where discussion has flourished, the degree of internal consideration is not evident in the majority of policy statements. Further questions are often met with slower responses, or even silence. Preemptive communication -- i.e. communication to head off a potential problem -- is extremely rare. Evidence the double notifications in the Payment History tab in June. Many organizations would choose to make a global announcement. Google chose to handle the situation case-by-case with individual publishers. Further examples are easily found in the GMail beta launch.
This communication style may, or may not, prove popular with shareholders and/or the SEC. In any case, I think it'll take much more than the wishes of a few AdSense publishers to change the tide. Smart observers will create laboratory sites of their own, or bookmark a representative number of sites they believe to be "riding the edge" of the AdSense TOS, and observe them carefully over several months to see which sites survive and which lose AdSense ads. If AdSense and ranking appear unaffected, then it's probably time to adjust and/or redefine that personal guesstimate of "the edge". There's always going to be a very subjective choice of placement for each publisher, relative to that edge.
I wonder if anybody has come up with a GameBoy version. Oh wait, maybe that's us! ;-)
Very good post Lars
I don't spend time building webpages so I can make money. I spend time making money so I can build webpages. ;-)
Look at what I started.
|I'd think Google is much more likely to continue their established pattern of vagueness with the AdSense TOS than they are to suddenly amend it with specifics. Google has stated over and over that they act differently than most organizations. |
I'm afraid you're absolutely correct. And this policy did indeed serve them well as a private company with a huge advantage in search engine market share and little true competition in the contectual advertising sector.
But both of these factors will certainly change in a big way and in the not so so distant future. Unless Google is willing to alter their way of doing business in order to compete they'll end up just another apple in the basket when they used to be the pie.
|this policy did indeed serve them well as a private company with a huge advantage in search engine market share and little true competition in the contectual advertising sector. |
Why should they spell out their algorithms (and the rationales behind those algorithms) any more clearly after they've gone public? Such proprietary information is Google's "secret sauce," whether it's used to rank search results or to deliver maximum value and peace of mind to advertisers.
I think a bigger problem that Google faces is how to win acceptance in the mainstream advertising marketplace (which dwarfs the current PPC market, as I mentioned in an earlier post). As long as advertisers have no control over where their ads appear and the AdSense network has minimal quality standards, Google will be a disadvantage against competitors like Overture's Content Match (which, admittedly, doesn't offer access to the special-interest sites that are Google's strength) or future niche competitors in high-profit sectors like travel.
|Why should they spell out their algorithms (and the rationales behind those algorithms) any more clearly after they've gone public? |
It makes perfect sense to keep their "secret sauce" for ranking web pages a secret because there are so many ways for webmasters to manipulate the results ans simply throw away a domain when caught.
It makes no sense whatsoever keeping their rules for what is acceptable with AdSense pages a secret however. Clear, distinct do's and don'ts can only help everyone. There is no real downside that I can see.
Clearly defined rules would help webmasters by:
1 - Giving them a sense of security in that as long as they abide by those rules they have no need to fear being kicked out of the program. This would help build long-term publisher loyalty.
As it is now, many publishers have a "get a much as I can while I can" mentality because they half-way expect the dreaded email to arrive any day.
2 - Encouraging them to concentrate on building high quality, useful pages (since not doing so would lead to an automatic expulsion from the program).
Clearly defined rules would help Google by:
1 - Allowing them to concentrate the bulk of their customer service resources to real customer service issues instead of responding to tons of "Is this site in compliance?" emails.
2 - Eliminate the vast majority of emails from webmasters "reporting" a site that falls in a gray area (usually in the hopes of getting it booted).
If the rules were laid out and well-known, the only sites reported would be those that were clearly in violation of the rules. Google's workload in handling these inquiries would diminish by a factor of a hundred or more in all probability.
And, as stated earlier, when loopholes are found, a simple addendum to the TOS would close them immediately.
The notion that somehow Google needs to favor advertisers over publishers isn't a valid one IMO. They can be fair and equitable to both.
The bottom line is this: AdSense is a very lucrative program for publishers, and I believe very few of them who make any serious money from it would place their accounts in jeaopardy if:
1 - They could sleep at night without the constant fear of getting kicked out.
2 - They knew where the line was and that crossing the line meant immediate, permanent expulsion.
The very concept of "no made for AdSense sites allowed" is not only unrealistic, it is contradictory to Google's own best interest. Google should be encouraging the creation of "made for AdSense sites" as long as those sites provide useful content in accordance with Google's clearly laid out rules.
Annej wrote - "I don't understand why google doesn't let advertisers block adsense sites just like we with adsense can block ads. I think that would go a long way in solving the problem."
Couldn't agree more I think it makes perfect sense surely that would allow policing by both sides, site author and advertiser. Author wont get adverts (for long) from spammy sites whilst still allowing the author to prevent unwanted advertisers on their site.
I see two problems with eliminating ambiguities in the AdSense rules:
1) Rules change. By setting specific boundaries, Google would be encouraging opportunistic publishers to play closer to the fence, and some of those publishers would get whacked every time the fence was moved.
2) Rules don't exist in isolation. Google's quality-control algorithms are probably like its search algorithms: Going over the line in one area may not be enough to get a publisher whacked, but going over the line in several areas--or going over the line in one area while playing suspiciously close to the line in several other areas--may lead to a manual review and a penalty. Revenues and conversion rates may also come into play, making it even harder for a simple list of rules (no matter how specific) to keep "grey hat" publishers out of trouble.
Also, publishing detailed rules won't reduce the flood of "Can I do this?" e-mails, because most such e-mails come from publishers who haven't bothered to read the program policies. (Just look at the number of posts on Webmaster World from publishers who haven't read the AdSense program policies or FAQ, and who ask questions before looking for existing threads on those topics in this forum.)
Fact is, most AdSense publishers don't worry too much about the rules, because they don't have to. If you stick to being a Webmaster and use AdSense the way it was intended (to help you "earn money while making your site more useful for visitors"), there's no need to obsess about the rules.
If there are no clear cut rules then why is this discussion even taking place? You are making our point EPV.
You have nothing to go on. No clear cut rule to back you against what you feel are spammers or sites that you feel are unethical. All you can do is do the BEST you can do and hope to GOD that your ethics and beliefs are the same as GOOGLES.
As you said "there's no need to obsess about the rules" which gives you no reason to obsess about whether other webmasters are breaking them.
AMEN discussion is now closed.
[edited by: arubicus at 10:57 pm (utc) on Aug. 2, 2004]
We know where i stand on this issue.
However, I sometimes fear that Google puts out that "Don't make websites just for adsense" rule as a Public Relations factor for the benefit of their advertisers - and never seriously thought about enforcing it. They are too greedy to enforce it SERIOUSLY.
(They might enforce it to a lame degree)
I know for a fact that they put out a lot of recommendations and "policy" issues that they have no hope in hell of enforcing because they are incompetent when it comes to policing the web. One only has to concede the fact they lost the war to spam websites to see this. (they got their you know what kicked in the spam war).
They put out these policy issues and turn them into urban legends, promoting fear amongst webmasters - with no hope in following up on them. Fear is their greatest weapon. And once a spammer realizes this - he free's his conscious to create all kinds of junk sites.
However, I disagree with their passive policy, their fear promotion. And I see and feel the webmaster community losing respect for the AdSense because of the very type of websites we are discussing in this thread.
YOu have to agree, no matter what side of the fence you are on, that the advertisers respect for AdSense is slipping. That's a fact jack.
Aurbicus or however it's spelled, take a break. Breathe. Relax man! Your keyboard is going to overheat.!
| This 218 message thread spans 8 pages: < < 218 ( 1 2 3 4  6 7 8 ) > > |