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Google Quality Hammer
Meat Curtian

 3:11 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi All,
Looks like this week I've been hit by the Google Quality hammer once again. What is odd this time is the keywords that have been deemed 'low quality' were performing exceptionally well the prior 3 or 4 days before the hammer came down. The keywords were ranked position 1 and 2 for the prior 4 to 5 weeks before the hammer came down. The keywords are very, very relevant to our landing page.

Anyone else experience the Google hammer this week? What is so disappointing is our site is very much like the sites that are now coming up on these keywords. There is no concrete evidence of these sites having better ‘quality’.

Any thoughts? Is it important for Google Quality to continually update the content on our landing page?

Thanks in advance….




 3:27 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Are you in both the content network and the search network?

Are your ad groups small, tightly focused, with ads directly relating to the keywords and the theme of the ad group?

I'd look at keyword relevance to ad, first.

Meat Curtian

 3:45 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Are you in both the content network and the search network? Yes, although our content bids are very low....

Are your ad groups small, tightly focused, with ads directly relating to the keywords and the theme of the ad group? Yes

I'd look at keyword relevance to ad, first. We have 3 maybe 4 keywords in the ad group, the landing page is extremely relevant to the keyword group, the ad is full of the keywords. So I believe that the keywords are very relevant to the ad. Plus at first we get a 10/10 keyword scoring, then at sometime in the future, the keywords get shot down to 1/10.

We redo the ad, with a different URL, same keywords, and the group runs very well for about 6 weeks, then the hammer comes down. We added new content, and more relevant information, but long term the hammer comes down. Our competitors have similar content, yet they seem to run longer than we do. I will say some of our ad groups continue to run, while others seem to get hammered by the Google Quality Scoring. Once the Quality hammer comes down, the URL associated with the ad group is flag as ‘poor’ and all the keywords in the group have a 1/10 score. At that point it seems that we cannot get past the ‘poor’ ranking with that URL.


 4:05 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I've had the exact same experience several times now. No rhyme or reason to the 1/10 score.

Competitors with far less relevant pages still have their ads running.

And the keyword/ad/landing page combinations are producing excellent ROI, so clearly our users think we're high quality.

I've been hearing this from a lot of people. And when anybody tries to get an answer as to why this has happened and what can be done to fix it, we get canned responses.

I think Google is starting to become of victim of their own algorithm. And they are forgetting that we are customers also (paying customers) and our experience should matter as well.


 4:42 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

You should separate your content and your paid search campaign into different campaigns.

How much impression volume are you getting on these keywords and what is your CTR?

If you have a high Max CPC and are still getting low quality, address the campaign issue. If it's getting low impressions - build out new keywords. and if its a low CTR, time to re visit the copy.


Meat Curtian

 4:42 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm an affiliate marketer, so that may be it. In Ireland, Google ie essentially told me to get lost. I was working direct with a client, they wanted me to use Google to promote their products, yet Google in Ireland told me 'we don’t want to work with affiliates' and shut down my account.

Funny how Google seems to be anti-affiliate, yet they purchased Performics…

Meat Curtian

 4:47 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I had CTR of 9% on about 8,000 clicks, 70,000 impressions, average position of 3.5, this on quality scoring of about 7/10. Then on Wednesday, it all fell off the edge when the quality score went to 1/10.


 9:29 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

For me basically the same since today. One of my campaigns running for over 4 months without any signs of problems. Today about 90% of the (relevant) keywords went to 1/10.

This is the first time -in four years that I have been using Adwords fulltime- that I see such a huge drop in quality score for almost all keywords beloning to a specific campaign.

I guess there was/is a quality score update going on.

[edited by: Dlocks at 9:30 pm (utc) on June 12, 2009]


 10:05 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Funny how Google seems to be anti-affiliate, yet they purchased Performics

This animus toward affiliates makes one wonder why they call it "Adwords".

Affiliates are the advertisers most interested in selling what searchers are looking for.


Despite much value-added content, I was hit on some sites that couldn't be more relevant and on target.

Now I look at what shows on those keywords and the sites are far poorer in quality -- many just dynamic insertion "guesses" at the searcher's intent. Also, the "get it free" and "win it, don't buy it" types of ads that are deceptive at best.


Honest, straightforward sites run by affiliates are what made the Internet a profitable commodity for all. Sure there are plenty of good sites on the Internet that simply provide information, but someone has to pay the bills too.

Admittedly, one cannot survive as a "thin affiliate" anymore, but what was so wrong with simply selling exactly what the searcher was looking for? Affiliates function to pick up the advertising expenses for the merchant. Who wasn't happy with that arrangement?


Meat Curtian

 10:51 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi Israel,
Great input. I've been fighting the quality scoring for some time now. I also have been using the same URL for years. I'm all for quality, but the running theme from many of us that have been hit with poor quality is the fact that many lesser quality sites are still running with the same keywords. It makes no sense.

One item of note, prior to my latest hit, which was Thursday, the first few days of the week had about 30% more traffic on selected keywords, keywords that I’ve dominated over the past few years. I suspect this is more profit motive than quality motive. Many on this forum agree. Google just wants to get bigger…

Oh well, I’ve done this before (reworked my campaigns), and I’m sure I’ll do it again….



 12:22 pm on Jun 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

And today another domain/campaign that has been running with success since 2007 got 1/10 for all keywords. In Adwords Editor I can see the Quality score for all keywords was 7 min and 10 max. (same as with my other campaign I mentioned in my previous post).

Did Google change the the algorithem they use for deciding if a website has a good or bad quality score? If so, they should have a look at it again because it is not working very well.

I have two Adwords accounts. So I will move this campaign to my other account and make some changes to see if that will solve the problem.

[edited by: Dlocks at 12:29 pm (utc) on June 13, 2009]


 2:55 pm on Jun 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

My affiliate site got slapped down from 7 – 10 on most keywords to 1/10 on everything overnight, sometime toward the end of March.

I have just republished the site under a new domain name and added some new unique content to the new site. I also copied the campaign to another AdWords account and I modified the ad text so I really took four actions. The only thing that didn't change at all was the keywords and their respective ad groups.

Almost all keywords are now showing 10/10… at least for today. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.


 3:00 pm on Jun 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I forgot to mention that I also improved the navigational structure of the new site as well. It's really a much better user experience overall.


 7:23 pm on Jun 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Absolutely ridculous!

- Selling 'widgets'
- Bidding on keyword 'widgets'
- Sending them to 'widgets.com'
... my landing page is now a 1/10 after years of being 10/10

Maybe the goverment is right to look into anti-trust. Perhaps Google does have too much power.


 8:11 pm on Jun 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

I suspect that a human is making these decisions that suddenly make a site w/ a 10/10 QS a 1/10 site. It seems affiliate sites are being targeted and I don't see how the algorithm would know that they are affiliate sites.

If it is a human, it is completely arbitrary. As many here have pointed out, sites with lesser content are getting good placement.

I just wish they would let the performance of our campaigns determine quality. If we have a low quality campaign we'll be out of business and won't be advertising.


 4:11 pm on Jun 14, 2009 (gmt 0)

I had the exact same problem. I had very very relevant keywords, ads and landing page. Was scoring 9/10, 10/10 and getting good traffic from adwords for 3 months, suddenly it dropped to 3/10, 4/10 for no apparent reason and traffic (hence) dropped.

Looking deeper I discovered my main keyword, which was important to the whole website was deemed no longer relevant. It couldn’t have been any more relevant, it was in the URL, the title and on various pages.

I still believe today that a low quality score can sometimes have nothing to relivancy, but with Google making deliberately changes based on other factors.

What I think is relevant is that this happened the same day I started to get affiliate traffic.

Meat Curtian

 2:12 pm on Jun 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

So I guess we have to ask our collective self’s, when the quality score goes from 8/10 down to 1/10, is this the result of a new Google Quality algorithm, or is this human interaction? How can they justify a drop so dramatic? If the keywords are generating traffic, and decent CTR, why drop the quality score of the keywords? Isn’t that the proof that the keywords are relevant, and beneficial to the customer?

Or is this an attack of the affiliate market aspect of the industry we are in? The keywords that were recently hammered, the sites that took my place are affiliate sites as well.

Of well, I’m adding new content, new sites, and reworking campaigns and ads.

One last comment, I tried working this through my Google rep a few years ago, I got nowhere. Has anyone tried working the Quality issues though their rep?


 2:23 pm on Jun 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Google has been pretty upfront the past year about using AdWords for affiliate sites; they say right out that many affiliates don't fit the business model.

Driving aff sales with AdWords is not easy, and I myself wouldn't attempt it with a site that didn't have a whole lot of unique content that could stand on its own (or mostly on its own) without the aff offer.

Just as they don't want a thousand sites in the index offering up the exact same duplicate content, they don't want two dozen ads for exactly the same affiliate offer at the same price going to essentially the same squeeze page.

Meat Curtian

 2:30 pm on Jun 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

But they think enough of affiliate marketing to purchase Performics? If the affiliate marketing doesn’t fit the Google AdWords model, why would they purchase an affiliate marketing company?


 2:46 pm on Jun 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

I can't answer that, and it's not really your concern. Don't even waste time asking; you should be worrying about YOUR business.

Just because AdWords doesn't consider you a good match for their business doesn't mean there's necessarily anything *wrong* with your business, and you can always use other venues (yahoo, msn, facebook, etc) to bring in traffic.

But if your business model *requires* AdWords, then you're going to have to put up a site that they'll want in the program.

If you are getting stymied at every turn by quality score, you may need to get some professional eyeballs looking at your site to find things you may have missed - we're all very fond of our own sites, so much so that we're hardly objective. Get someone who isn't afraid of telling you the truth to tell you the truth about your site. Not someone who is struggling with QS just as you are. And prepare yourself for the possibility that you may not like what you hear.

There *are* plenty of people using AdWords for affiliate sites (I do myself - and no, I'm not taking clients) but you have to work within the system to get the system to work for you.

Meat Curtian

 3:09 pm on Jun 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hey netmeg,
I've appreciated your input over the years...and this thread is no different.

I do agree with most of your reply, but I think you are missing the point. "but you have to work within the system to get the system to work for you” That’s the problem; we do not understand the system. When keyword quality scoring goes from great traffic, great CTR, great quality (9/10) to poor quality with no apparent reasons, and the sites that replace you are no different from your site, then that is a problem. And a blanket statement, 'Google doest like affiliate sites" is not a definable answer, but a blanket statement that does explains all the issues that we face.

And finally, we do use MSN, Yahoo, Facebook, direct advertising, etc. to drive traffic.


 3:20 pm on Jun 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

The apparent reason is that Google got around to re-evaluating your quality score.

sites that replace you are no different from your site

This is what you need to be looking at. You have a problem if it's true. You have a different problem if it's not true. First figure out which, and then you can work on the solution to the problem.

If you want someone to tell you exactly, you're not going to get it in a forum (specially not this one)

I agree it's not a perfect system (AdWords) but it's the one we have, and you can spend time trying to fundamentally change it (good luck with that) or you can work on figuring out what it is that Google wants. It's NOT as difficult as you think!

Meat Curtian

 9:14 pm on Jun 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

"It's NOT as difficult as you think!"

Oh yes, but working your way though the Google QS is testing my patience. Yes, I know I have no choice, but it's tough, as I do believe my business model is fine, and profitable, it's just too bad Google does share my views.

So with that said, do you see Google revisiting a site and changing the quality of keywords once they've thrown you the 1/10 ranking? How long before they revisit a site?

Bottom-line, do I take the time to continue to add unique content, so that at some point in the future, the Google bots might redeem my landing page, and bump the QS up to a more manageable 8/10?

As side note, what’s your take on RSS added content?


 7:28 pm on Jun 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

Just to chip in.

I've not been using adwords since the old Google Slap of '08.
After weeks of tweaking the site(s) to no avail, it seemed nothing would breathe life into a site once it had the mark of QS doom (1/10).

I came to the conclusion that a human review of the site was the cause.

Anybody since had any luck rehabilitating the Quality Score of a slapped site?

It seems a bit harsh that the domain should forever be sent to a leper colony!


 4:16 am on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

It seems a bit harsh that the domain should forever be sent to a leper colony!

The key here could be that they don't really QS the site for content quality only, but for the whole site idea. Why the site exists and how is AdWords utilized for it? If the site does not fulfill the criteria (whatever that is), it gets "punished" with the prediction that the concept will always remain the same and therefore no new content could change the situation (QS).


 2:23 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Some business models just aren't going to work with AdWords. And it would appear that the line between what is acceptable and what isn't is moving again.

Meat Curtian

 2:54 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

"Some business models just aren't going to work with AdWords"

Big brother? Free markets? Let the market decide what business models work and which ones don’t?

Apparently not at Google....


 4:30 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yea it is a free market, and Google is free to decide what kind of business they want, just as I'm free to decide whom I want to advertise to, and which ads I do or don't want to appear on my site. Google is not the government, contrary to a lot of popular opinion, and you're not *entitled* to their advertising services. Google is also not the only game out there. They may be the biggest game, but not the only one.

Meat Curtian

 5:19 pm on Jun 24, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hey net,
I'm not arguing with you, I realize it's Google world, but I spend too much time dealing with their quality scoring, changes I think do not add a whole lot for my customers. No doubt the original, unique, and informative content is nice, but how much it really adds for our customer is debatable.

My customers search for widgets; I give them information on widgets. It’s really that simple. Some of this information is from my clients, the widget manufacture. Putting the history of widgets on a landing page is not helping our customers buy widgets.

But with that said, I do think that they are weeding out poor search results, and sites, so maybe long term this will help all of us.



 6:57 am on Jun 26, 2009 (gmt 0)

Yup, they have moved the standards.. Feeling a slight pinch as some Great KW slipped to 7/10 with USD 1-3 bids making them useless. Difficult to keep up with adwords if this happens regularly. Last time I was affected was a long time back. Since I was OK for so many months, I got a little complacent..

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