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My 4 Month Campaign went to $10 bids overnight

 4:48 am on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well this was sure a shocker but last evening it all started to happen. I noticed a few long running KWs that normally run around .20 each get downgraded to poor. By Midnight ALL of my keywords in this campaign were set to $10 minimum bids. Most Keywords were great prior to last night so I have no idea what happened.

I contacted Google today and a very polite rep via chat said it would be escalated to the engineers and they would get back to me promptly. That was over 16 hours ago and I have heard nothing.

I am at a complete loss as to what happened. At the very least I hope Google informs me of the reason why they decided I should no longer be a part of this niche since I paid them 20k over the summer in it.

Something else that is somewhat disturbing is all of my competitors appear untouched.

Has anyone else experienced anything like this recently?



 5:23 am on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just a suggestion - maybe your host is (or was, at midnight) not accessible to Google's bot and so the landing pages are coming back as invalid?

Try changing the destination URL for one of the ads and see what happens to the QS. Change it from example.com/keyword.html to example.com/keyword.html? or similar - so that there is no actual change to the page returned, just forcing Google to recheck it.


 12:04 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I received a long generic response, here is part of it:

Please know that advertising quality is important to us and our users, and we take several factors into account when calculating each keyword's Quality Score. Quality Scores are based on data specific to your account, including your keyword's click through rate (CTR), relevance of ad text, historical keyword performance, and the quality of your ad's landing page.

MY CTR was great, relevance of ad text was right on topic, historical keyword performance was outstanding, and the quality of my landing page converted over 200% ROI.

I have made no changes to anything recently so it looks like I was hit with a manual review and a penalty for performing too well vs. the big players. The funny thing is I have competitor sites running the same affiliate programs with sight designs a 3rd grader could make and they are still untouched.

Yay for free market capitalism or the illusion thereof.


 5:52 pm on Aug 31, 2007 (gmt 0)

I made a new ad and changed the URL to another of my domains last night. Woke up this morning and all the keywords were activated again. So I decided to restart a couple of my long running ads pointing to the relevant domain. Within 15 mins everything revereted back to poor. So it looks like it is either:

a. my domain was flagged and is now carrying a heavy penalty.


b. the old ads are putting a heavy penalty on my keywords.


 2:52 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Many people have found that the key is to always change the destination URL...


 3:38 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's probably (a)…

Do you sell your own stuff or of others?


 10:22 am on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'd agree, its a) a penalty I experienced the same thing same day as you and don't really know why, probably applied manually. Whatever the reasons the account reps are of little use and will probably just point you to the useless canned help page on improving quality and be quite happy to let you waste days of time on a fruitless endeavour. When any new keyword for any url on your domain instantly goes to $5 or $10 thats a penalty and all the quality in the world won't remove it.

Google's customer relations in these kind of matters is the worst of the worst, right down at the bottom of the pile, they don't tell you anything helpful that you can work with and the silent, sneaky shut down of your ads is as unprofessional as it gets. I don't mind the reasoning behind quality score, I do mind the way they silently apply it and leave you guessing.

You could hang in and wade through all the barriers or you could vote with your wallet and use a better ppc. My 20k a month now goes to MSN and very grateful they are to.


 1:20 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Got whacked too. 15 month old campaign. went from great .03 yesterday to poor $1.00 today. No changes had been made in the campaign in several months. I am bummed.


 1:29 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

What you got was the "Google Slap." It happened to me too. I suspect it's my landing pages. I have been using affiliate links in all my ads instead of my own landing pages on my own site. While Google's policies do permit this, they don't like it.

[edited by: Webdetective at 1:31 pm (utc) on Sep. 1, 2007]


 1:31 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Several of the keywords that got whacked, return the same landing page on the first page of the organic results. One word is the top listing on page 1 of the organic results. Hard to figure.


 4:17 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree that googles communication is downright awful in matters such as these. Can you imagine in a traditional business terminating a long time paying customer with no explanation except a generic email?

I was doing very well in the 2 niches they nailed me in. I had my avg cost per click low and my CTR was healthy. I know this due to the level of competition and my average ad rankings & CPC.

As mentioned previously all of my affiliate competitors appear untouched and that is the thing that really ruffles my feathers. Was I penalized for performing too well in these 2 niches? I spent months of refining my ads and KWs to get them streamlined. That is the most frustrating part of it all.

Yahoo & MSN are looking more appealing to me by the day. And they are slated to get a much larger portion of my ad dollar vs. Google. But at the same time I would really hate to miss out on all of that Google traffic.

[edited by: Rockgar at 4:23 pm (utc) on Sep. 1, 2007]


 4:29 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

It seems a new QS update is on.. Did they announce it somewhere..


 6:14 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

"Many people have found that the key is to always change the destination URL..."

As in change the destination URL after one is "Google Slapped" or just periodically as in every other week to prevent a whack?

And are we talking the domain as a whole or just the URL within a domain?

[edited by: Rockgar at 6:17 pm (utc) on Sep. 1, 2007]


 6:52 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

Domain as a whole for me, any keyword 'widgetxxyadayada' instant $5 bids.

My site was not an aff site either, nothing untoward as well, finance vertical in fact. I'm tired though of wading through people in their support centre who don't know what they are talking about and who keep sending me that improve quality canned email when we know quite well that I could spend the next three weeks playing with my pages and it wouldn't make the slightest difference, its a unremovable penalty that won't go without manual removal, I keep telling them and it just goes in one ear and out the other.

There are better ppcs and Im using them now instead, their loss.


 7:08 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've had exactly the same thing:

1. Every single keyword across the campaign is rated as "Poor"
2. All bids are put up to insane prices
3. The canned reply from google saying that the site "was reviewed as being poor quality".

Although the word "reviewed" implies a manual review, there's been a lot of talk about this over the last day or two - it's clearly a landing page algorithm change.

What's interesting is that they determined that my entire *site* was of "poor quality". I'd imagine they did this by realising there's no privacy policy, contact page, relevant links, and content is probably on the skimpy side.

Still, lesson learnt. If you've been hit by this, I'd recommend following the guidelines for a "high quality site" - that's what I'm doing, and going to hope for the best

Could the adwords advisor please confirm that there has been an update for *entire site* quality scoring? And what are the odds of making the improvements and then getting a manual review to remove the poor quality status?


 11:43 pm on Sep 1, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just tried an experiment. I changed all my destination URLs and display URLs to a landing page on own website for the ads for one Ad group, and it worked. The Ad group was soon restored back to it's original bids within just a few hours.


 12:57 am on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

webdetective, I dont understand what you did. Could you explain further?


 1:27 am on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

In one of my Ad groups, all I did was switch my existing display URL and destination URLs from an affiliate link, to a page on my own site. A short time later, my bids returned back to normal.

It appears Google had a problem with my affiliate links.

Now all I need to do is come up with some more landing pages for my other Ad groups.


 1:49 am on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Thank you for the clarification.


 8:27 am on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well that shows they've listed the entire domain as "poor quality"...

Thanks for posting.


 4:59 pm on Sep 2, 2007 (gmt 0)

Are these all affiliates where this is happening?

Meat Curtian

 5:26 pm on Sep 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

With respects to John Forgerty, it's déjà Vu all over again....

Check the September 2006 posts for same Google trickery.....

Google wants your money; they don’t care about "user experience" or "ad quality"

It's all BS....


"... and a little trap-door behind them...."


 10:05 pm on Sep 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's not just affiliates. We have never been able to get an ad to run for our new site. Except for two keywords that come in at $1 and $5, everything else for every page (we have tried a few dozen) comes in at $10.

Looking at the landing pages of the supposedly high quality sites makes the whole thing even more maddening as a couple of them don't even have the phrase or even the words on their landing page.

So far all I have gotten is the generic "read the landing page guidelines" response.


 6:52 am on Sep 5, 2007 (gmt 0)


There has been a QS update. They seem to have done it quitely so that the screaming is less.

BTW, my E Comm site bids have gone down to 1 cent to 5 cents (max) , so this is good for me.

Most inactive keywords have suddenly become active with 'GREAT' QS.

And this is done with NO change to Landing page. They seem to have changed the 'weights' in the algo.

So big G keeps tweaking, and experimenting.

Very unstable way to work, but no alternative, so grin and bear it.


 7:27 am on Sep 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

It sounds like you've got google slapped. Type goggle slapping into google to find out what it is. It very commonly happens when google believes that the site your directing traffic to isn't lexically related to the ad. there are other reasons but usually thats the main reason.


 4:16 am on Sep 14, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have made no changes to anything recently so it looks like I was hit with a manual review and a penalty for performing too well vs. the big players.

I've been assured twice by two different Google employees that there is no manual review involved.. ever.. period..

Think about the amount of manpower it would take to check and re-check millions of web sites across the world..

I found this out by calling them and asking them to manually remove the Googleslap on a site I had thoroughly redesigned.. He said just wait for the bot and you might snap out of it.. Some people do, I didn't.. I just put the new site on a new domain and it is doing fine..

Using affiliate links.. While Google's policies do permit this, they don't like it.

actually the opposite is true.. They want affiliates to to do direct to merchant linking using their display URL. You linking to your own domain results in duplicate content (which they hate). However, the algorithm is quite easily gamed and linking to your own site will most likely result in more traffic and much lower bids if you can hit the algorithm right..

I imagine that even merchants running affiliate programs get nailed by QS.. Tradera.com (eBay Sweden) has a really awful QS for example..

At the very least I hope Google informs me of the reason why they decided I should no longer be a part of this niche since I paid them 20k over the summer in it.

They don't care how much money you've spent.. yes, you spent $20,000, but Target and shopping.com would have spent $50,000 and you took basically took their clicks away from them..


 8:31 pm on Sep 28, 2007 (gmt 0)

actually the opposite is true.. They want affiliates to to do direct to merchant linking using their display URL.

It's impossible to figure out what Google likes or dislikes. I was told elsewhere that the landing page is usually always the reason for a Google slap. The landing page's site offers no useful or original content, which normally always means affiliate pages.

I keep reading that the whole problem is "quality score," but what exactly determines a good quality score? I am still new to Adwords, and inexperienced, so my campaign was performing poorly. Most of my keywords were getting no hits. Maybe that's it.

One big problem with using direct affiliate link is too much competition from other affiliates using the same display URL. The only way around that is to get into a bidding war over individual keywords.

[edited by: Webdetective at 8:35 pm (utc) on Sep. 28, 2007]

Gumball Monkey

 11:20 pm on Oct 9, 2007 (gmt 0)

Had the same recently, I run sport related news and community sites - I had CPC go from 0.02GBP a click to 5.00GBP a click. Other sites in my portfolio run at 0.02GBP a click for the same keywords, like 'nameofsport forum' or 'nameofsport news'.

I spoke to reps and just got the go around, one rep even left a live chat midway through. It is totally unprofessional, and even trying to advertise my site URL on an ad still leaves me with 5.00GBP a click - how much more relevant can I be!

What is even more strange is that my sites are highly ranked in the Google index, well received, carry the bare minimum of Adsense ads (no arbitrage/affiliate etc) and all sites share the same architecture as far as page layout goes, pagerank of 4+.

Thank god for MSN I say, I just wish YSM would lower their min bid further, and stop cherry picking keywords for higher bids. I suppose the only downside of the URL mentioned above is that its only about a year old - but that's still an age by internet standards.

Brent Crouch

 1:41 am on Oct 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

Count me in. About the same time in September I had one of my long time campaigns shut off with $5 minimum bids. I was sure it had to be a mistake. I had tweaked one ad and was getting a 20% CTR on the search results.

I wrote and got the same canned response as everyone else.


 3:31 am on Oct 10, 2007 (gmt 0)

I got a reply back from Adwords regarding my affiliate link:

Thank you for your patience in this matter. After consulting our specialist team, we've confirmed that the landing page quality of
'http*********' is very poor. This designation is given to sites that don't include useful content, products, and/or services for internet users, and are often difficult to advertise efficiently and effectively.

Based on user feedback, we've found that low quality sites lead to a poor user experience, and unhappy users are less likely to click on AdWords ads. Also, advertisers with quality sites see higher advertising costs when they are forced to compete with ads for poor quality sites. AdWords provides the best results when both users and advertisers have a positive advertising experience.

With that said, the increase in bids you are seeing is not a problem specific to ClickBank, but it is more related to Quality Score and landing page quality issues.

This 42 message thread spans 2 pages: 42 ( [1] 2 > >
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