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Adsense Crack-Down?

Heard that many accounts are being suspended

     
10:58 pm on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have heard it from several reliable sources that several Adsense accounts have been suspended today because their sites had "Poor Quality" content.

Anyone here care to share if you were one of the unfortunate today? And if so provide some more details?

heyday

11:07 pm on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I wasn't one of the unfortunate, but I also haven't heard anything about a crackdown.

Either way, any poor quality sites (according to Google) were treading on thin ice anyway.

11:31 pm on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Where did you heard about that crack down?
11:58 pm on Mar 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Might be morphed from this post on the Google Webmaster Central Blog [googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com]?

Some SEOs however, do not focus on the userís needs, but instead create pages solely for search engines... usually accomplished by... scraping content... Google is willing to take action against domains that try to rank more highly by just showing scraped or other autogenerated pages that don't add any value to users.
12:16 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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What took them so long?

Better late than never...

12:27 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Let's hope that we see a few of the major mfa's sink.
1:46 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have heard it from several reliable sources that several Adsense accounts have been suspended today...

Several accounts? I wouldn't exactly call that a "crackdown." A crackdown would certainly be welcome, though we'll probably have to settle for a shakeout as site-targeted CPC ads, CPA ads, smart pricing, etc. eventually starve out the bottom feeders.

3:16 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have heard it from several reliable sources that several Adsense accounts have been suspended today because their sites had "Poor Quality" content.

What constitute "Poor Quality"?
Is it only about the website with original, low quality content?
Does a site with good content, but poor visitors due to lack of inbound links and ranking deem to be "poor quality"?
What about MFAs?

10:26 am on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Does a site with good content, but poor visitors due to lack of inbound links and ranking deem to be "poor quality"?

No. One of the key features of Google's advertising model is that it aggregates small publishers and small advertisers, giving it a broader reach than would otherwise be possible.

Small publishers with good sites only need to worry if their account becomes expensive to administer (e.g. if they have a lot of support issues). If a publisher costs Google more than it earns for them, then Google would be justified in closing the account, even if there's nothing else wrong with the site, its visitors, and its owner.

4:14 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Either way, any poor quality sites (according to Google) were treading on thin ice anyway.
They've been treading on thin ice for years.

Chance are a few people got banned for breaking the TOS, and this morphed into a "crack-down".

I see plenty of sites that are MFA, and have been MFA for years, and AS does nothing, as long as they are relevant and/or not breaking the TOS.

I could see some publishers complaining to Google that they are getting poor results from some sites, but the publishers have the tools to block those sites from their campaigns.

This rumor goes around about every six months, that they are going after sites that they are targeting "poor quality" sites. As long as publishers don't complain about the traffic, Google will let it be.

If they were truly going after "poor quality" sites, the type-in domains that use a parking page to run AS (i.e. there is no site, just a single page of AS ads), would be the first against the wall, as they offer NO content.

5:21 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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>>>the type-in domains that use a parking page

Oh bother, you got that 100% wrong.

Of course they don't offer content. They are direct navigation. It's a form of search.

Someone is searching by typing in a domain name, let's say Example.com. The domain example.com is not for sale, but if it were it would sell for several hundred thousand dollars, well out of the reach of the average example seller.

But gee, if the example merchant can't buy the domain, which is a good one, they can ADVERTISE on it through adwords, and that's a lot cheaper than buying the domain while still monetizing the traffic that is streaming to it.

  • Regular search is when someone queries a search box.

  • Direct Navigation is when someone searches for what they want by querying their browsers address bar with a url.

It's misinformed to compare Direct Navigation to MFAs or talk about it in the same breath as low quality clicks. Direct Navigation produces the highest quality click, far superior than contextual.

7:29 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Of course they don't offer content. They are direct navigation. It's a form of search.

That's why I was saying that if this was just about poor content, they would be in trouble in theory - I was responding to a comment that the OP had made:

several Adsense accounts have been suspended today because their sites had "Poor Quality" content.

You are absolutely right - they offer only ads and not content. You're also right that those sites do produce good results, which leads me back to the point of there would only be a crack-down if advertisers were complaining (I said publishers, but I meant advertisers), and the advertisers have the tools to block sites they don't want to be on.

I don't think there is any crack-down though. I have a list of about 30 or 40 sites that are MFAs that compete in my niches, and they have what I would definitely call "poor quality content", including scraping my sites and others. Some of us have reported them to the AS folks as well as their hosting providers, to no avail. I shouldn't say that, occasionally they will take down content we've reported them on, but they keep on chugging with AdSense, time after time, with apparently no penalities (i.e. haven't changed AdSense IDs, so their accounts are still in good standing).

If Google was truly cracking down, we would hear about it in multiple legit venues, and not just an anonymous posting on an internet forum.

7:42 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The crackdown is real. Just today I received mail from Google indicating that our "business model is not a good fit" for the AdSense program. The business model in question is arbitrage. Ad serving and account access will be shut down within 24 hours. However, they will be paying us what we are owed through today.

IMO, this means they've finally taken a hard stand against AdSense arbitrage in particular. They couldn't eradicate it with quality score on the AdWords side without killing a ridiculous number of non-arbitrage advertisers as well, so they decided to just kill the AdSense accounts instead.

10:36 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It's misinformed to compare Direct Navigation to MFAs or talk about it in the same breath as low quality clicks. Direct Navigation produces the highest quality click, far superior than contextual.

In terms of their function to the owner, advertiser, and ad broker (Google), there is a difference. But to the avg Joe/Jane looking to research a topic, they look the same and might likley be just as useless.

And thats the problem with the parked domain MFA vs. regular garden variety MFA argument IMO, they are different in terms of function but all too similar in terms of appearance to many users.

11:56 pm on Mar 21, 2007 (gmt 0)

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IMO, this means they've finally taken a hard stand against AdSense arbitrage in particular.

If that's the case, is anybody surprised? Buying traffic is buying traffic. Yes, it's amusing that at one point, one of Google's case studys was an arbitrage site (thinly veiled, but most of us recognized it as soon as we saw), but I think this is something that a lot of us have been wanting.

I never have liked having my sites used by similar sites as entry points, by them using Adwords that would show up as AdSense on my site, so that people would follow the link to the arbitrage site (which was usually an MFA).

Nothing against you personally Tiger98, and I'm sure you run solid sites with good content, but there are too many people abusing this.

Using Adwords to create some awareness of a new site is good, IMO, but I've always thought it was abused by too many (who used it for AdSense traffic and not to create awareness of a new site).

1:13 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The business model in question is arbitrage.

Was that the MFA-page-full-of-ads-only type of arbitrage or the pay-for-visitors-to-a-good-content-page type of arbitrage or something else? There's a big difference.

FarmBoy

1:16 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There's a certain site that had very little text on a variety of topics, poorly written, and was plastered with AdSense ads. I had been watching this site for a couple of years and wondered if/when Google would ever do something about it. Every now and then, I would see their AdWords ads show up on my site, so I put them in my competitive filter.

I just checked and they're gone.

Interesting.

FarmBoy

1:54 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Ads from the arbitrageur with thousands of domains all on one IP address are still showing. There isn't going to be a significant reduction in arbitrage until some of the major players like this one are suspended.
5:49 am on Mar 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Just checked a couple of my sites and AdSense-based arbitrageurs appear to be gone. However a number of sites are still playing the game with other search feeds.
10:45 am on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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MB:
It's misinformed to compare Direct Navigation to MFAs or talk about it in the same breath as low quality clicks. Direct Navigation produces the highest quality click, far superior than contextual

A page with nothing but ads is not an MFA?
How is that different than expired domain corps eating scavengers?
What about mistyped domain squatters?

In the pursue of "conversion" the internet is getting filled with garbage, publishers are becoming conversion machines not content producers, MFA, made for affiliate, we'll watch them come and go, but superior?

1:47 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hobbs, would you feel better if, instead of Google downloading on-domain-topic ads when someone types WidgetManufacturers.tld into their browser that, instead, my server download paid listings from my website "Widget Manufacturer Directory"? Same outcome but it would somehow vindicate your view?

MB explained it perfectly. Direct navigation is a choice, I supect more often than not made by people who find the SERPs confusing or less than optimal in their mission to find X. So they go direct.

The CTR on direct navigation domains can make the CTRs on the contextual network look feeble. Advertisers keep coming back, which suggests that direct navigation CTRs are connected with conversion rates that make advertisers money.

People type in CitynameHotels.tld. Listings, often rather clearly worded and typically imbedding deals related to hotels in that city, appear. Just like in the SERPs, except sometimes better and, with the improvements being made in landers I'll say better and better.

It's not 1999 anymore.

2:40 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi Webwork,

Those superior business models are multiplying in my competitive filter like bunnies.

What twists my knots it the labeling a page full of nothing but ads "superior", they might have the highest industry CTR and best conversion ever, and still remain an inferior nothing but ads spammy MFA pages.

I cannot possibly have any personal preferences on how a user should typically find their target, its their business, but I suspect a page full of nothing but ads is what that visitor is looking for.

And yes, Google is in this business, but I don't like everything that Google does either.

Maybe I'd feel a little better about them if they were not aggressively appearing as ads on my pages, maybe I can just ignore them if they were not making the finding of broken links on my site so hard, I lose a little bit of trust every time I send my visitors to an ad fest of broken links or 'superior' expired domains.

3:17 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I suspect the gist of the controversy lies somewhere in how the concept of "misleading" or "deception" is applied.

Ads that appear in little boxes on the contextual network that make it appear that they will lead to a final destination or "the answer" - but actually lead to arbitrage sites - are problematic in my experience. I no more care for arbitrage links on my domain landers than you care for them on your website. Arbitragers craft their adlinks to make it appear that upon the click-away the visitor-clicker will arrive at a final destination. Instead, all the visitor-clicker arrives at is another transit point. Frankly I don't think that's good for either the domain parking industyr OR the contextual advertising industry. Still, the visitor may eventually find their way to a site that fulfills their search intent.

The deception in domain parking is implied - not crafted. You may imply that because a domain is registered therefore the existence of a website naturally follows. It being 2007, and domain parking having existed for years and being rather a ubiquitous phenomena, I would think that such a implied conclusion or belief - implied in the minds of that direct navigator - would scarcely exist, perhaps only in the minds of few utter web neophytes.

As far as clutter, would my industry directory website be more clutter, if it filled the SERPs, versus a parked domain that acts as a directory for the same industry?

The essential issue is one of deception and there are layers of onion skin to be peeled, each revealing elements of "less than elemental honesty" in advertising. MFAs and domain parking are both advertising models but domain parking's "deception" is far more implied than designed. The "deception" of MFA or PPC arbitrage ads or sites - whatever they might consist of - is more designed than implied. Visitor expectation and experience are tied up in there somewhere, often starting with an ad that - by design - suggests an informational website exists. Ads are information but that's not always what the ad suggested.

Perhaps if the arbitrage ads were required to simply state "Find more ads about widgets here" that might clear things up a bit and improve the user experience as a click would promptly fulfill the users expectation of seeing only ads. ;)

4:49 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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It's misinformed to compare Direct Navigation to MFAs or talk about it in the same breath as low quality clicks. Direct Navigation produces the highest quality click, far superior than contextual.

This doesn't mean that there aren't good arguments against parked domains showing AdSense. For one it encourages people to register domains for no other reason than to show AdSense thus polluting the web with garbage. There are other excellent, detailed arguments against them here on WW.
5:52 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hobbs, MFA domains that are advertising on your site are not direct navigation, that's arbitrage. So you're discussing something different than what I or webwork are referring to. I think we probably are in agreement more than you realize.

For one it encourages people to register domains for no other reason than to show AdSense thus polluting the web with garbage.

1. If someone types cityhotelcheap.tld into their browser and there is no website on the other end, a hotel in that city missed an opportunity for a sale.

2. If someone is clever enough to register that domain then that person typing the domain name into the browser will either hit a site for a hotel, or a page of ads (like a directory or targeted SERPs) for hotels in that city. They will have found what they were searching for. That is what direct navigation is: Search.

3. Just as someone typing into a search box will find a listing of serps and ads, someone typing a domain name into the browser address field may find the same, and (gasp) even an actual hotel website.

4. Bottom line: A consumer found what they were looking for. Where is the pollution?

Even more importantly, where is the fraud? The same peanut gallery that lumps direct navigation with click fraud consistently can never, and I mean never, coherently illustrate where the fraud occurs. It blows my mind to hear otherwise reasonable people say something is so and not only fail to illustrate why it is so, but regress to an idiotic non-response such as "If you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you." And here's my favorite non-response: "I have been in this business X years, I should know."

Right.

6:12 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Hi MB,
Direct navigation, arbitrage, expired domains, that's the intention of the domain owner which Webwork beautifully illustrated, in the end a plain no content full of ads single page that serves no purpose other than generating its owner money, good for them, but you said if it appears on my pages it has crossed the "Direct navigation" line and trespassed into the MFA territory? Isn't that just marketing too?

I just feel the whole business model detestable, even if they convert and are cashing on the new to the internet visitors mentality loop hole or search engines shortcomings.

I am honestly trying to find where we are in agreement, when you are coming from the pragmatic and financial conversion angle and I am losing it with expired domain links and ad filter space.

[edited by: Hobbs at 6:14 pm (utc) on Mar. 27, 2007]

6:20 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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1. If someone types cityhotelcheap.tld into their browser and there is no website on the other end, a hotel in that city missed an opportunity for a sale.

What a terrible argument. You are saying that if someone doesn't reach a website by typing a domain directly into their browser that they simply give up? I don't think so.

One of the biggest problems is that these domain owners are promoting these parked domains, funneling traffic to them in order to get the clicks. You are free to disagree but I certainly disagree with your assessment that it isn't the same as click fraud.

6:26 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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click fraud is maybe too much a term, they're sure ugly and annoying, but not crooks!
6:29 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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There are things that may technically be legal that still aren't right. Some of us are lucky enough to have figured out what's going on so we could opt out of the "partner" network. Google not being up front about who's in that network is a big part of why I consider it fraud. Just a little message to the effect of, "Oh yeah, if you check that box your ads will show up on millions of parked domains." would help a lot in my opinion.

[edited by: Atomic at 6:32 pm (utc) on Mar. 27, 2007]

6:37 pm on Mar 27, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I must be insane defending those uglies but here goes nothing.

Atomic, as an advertiser, you're in it for the conversion: sale, booking, signup, hit or whatever you're in it for, what's click faudish about visitors clicking on those ugly and terrible parked domain pages and doing whatever you paid for them to do on your pages?

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