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Can You Recover from a $10.00 Quality Score?

Has anybody ever made a change that reversed their Google Slap?

12:04 pm on Mar 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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We own one PR6 web site that used to spend $1,200/day on Google Adwords for over 2 years. (Yep, a little over $1.1 million!)

Then last month - wham - went from .15/click to $10.00 per click across the board.

Needless to say, we had to quit giving Google our money. This might have been the cause for their stock decline. :)

We have some sites that have been hit, others not. It's fairly random. We know how to make decent landing pages, try lots of ads, and add a lot of negative keywords, etc.


Has anyone around here successfully reversed a $10.00 bid to reasonable levels by making changes to their site / keywords / ads?

4:40 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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yep, that was the first thing I tried.
5:20 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I guess the good news is that outside of arbitridge, thin aff sites, etc, I've seen people recover from high min bids.

However, if you've done that much; I'd recommend sending Google an email explaining what you've tried, that you're a legit business, and that the min bids seem a bit much for your efforts. Often explaining things like this to Google can help.

Usually these are the steps I take to when trying to redo quality score (it's off the top of my head, so hopefully I didn't miss anything major)

* check for TOS issues(other disapproved ads, display and destination URLs matching, etc)
* check the robots.txt file to make sure adsbot can spider the site
* check the landing page with images, flash, and scripts turned off to see what appears (i.e. the spider's view)
* check the campaign settings to ensure the proper targeting is occurring
* check all keywords are relevant, and trim some broader keywords or ones with 0 impressions in the last 90 days. turn all broadmatch keywords into phrase (or exact)
* see if there's a better way to organize the keywords (which is often making them more granular)
* writing the ad copy to ensure it reflects every keyword in the ad group
* check site load times, privacy policy, about us page, etc
* make sure the page is relevant to that exact ad copy/keyword combination
* tweak the page if necessary
* turn all keywords into exact match
* if none of that works, write/call google and talk to them

5:41 pm on Apr 3, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the input! Short of contacting Google, I believe I have hit every point here. This home builder has been around for years and other campaigns continue unchallenged (bizarre).
8:49 pm on Apr 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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[edited by: JonW at 8:51 pm (utc) on April 20, 2008]

12:28 am on Apr 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I have bids now approching $3 on the builders site, so I went ahead and bid $5 (the min) on several of the inactive terms and volia, the words became active and minimum dropped to .40!
5:18 pm on Apr 22, 2008 (gmt 0)

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No, PR rank does not play at all according to a written response from Adwords support.
8:58 pm on Apr 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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I've had a fair amount of experience with the qs and have had lots of different outcomes. Here's some of what I've learned:

-A $5 or $10 minimum is generally a "not relevant enough" landing page problem.

- A $1 poor rating is generally that your adgroup name, KWs, ad text, and sometimes landing page URL are not tightly focused enough.

- You can recover in a day or two if you fix these issues.

-You can often fix a poor QS by temporarily raising your min bid very high. I can't tell you how many times a KW bid at $0.50 is "poor" but then raise the min bid to $10 or $20 and within a couple of hours or a day it's "great" (Funny how that happens isn't it? I guess money influences "quality" for google ;-)

If you're going to do this make sure you set your max daily spend at $20 or $30 bucks or you'll blow a lot of money fast. Then over the next couple of days you can slowly lower your bids back to normal amounts. Another benefit of this is that such a high bid puts you in high position which increases your CTR, which no doubt influences your QS.

-I've had some domains just cursed with poor QS and unable to recover. But if I copy the campaign exactly and send it to another domain with exactly the same content, pages, ads, IP address, etc. The new campaign/site will usually have good or great QS. I've found no rhyme or reason to why google doesn't like some domain names but I've had it happen with a few sites. Moving to another domain has fixed it every time.

-Sometimes the QS is just wrong and a glitch with the system. One client's campaign had poor QS all around but there was no reason for it and no amount of tweaking could fix it. The site was very high quality, relevant landing page, tightly focused adgroups, etc.

I talked to two google reps who agreed that it was a very high quality site/campaign and they couldn't explain the poor QS. They escalated it to check if there was some problem that wasn't apparent to us. In clever google-speak they told me that there was not a problem with the QS and that "they wouldn't be surprised if things got better in a few days." Sure enough within 2-3 days the QS improved to "great". They didn't admit that there was a problem with their system but there obviously was.

-If you've made changes that you think will improve your QS but you don't want to wait around for the bot to revisit your site and confirm it, you can often get google to recheck your QS instantly by making a new ad or adgroup. This forces the bot to see the site and will generally speed up your recovery.

I hope some of this helps.

9:26 pm on Apr 25, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for your input, particularily this last post from brizad.

I never thought to actually "comply" with the $10 slap (thank you sir, may I have another? - Animal House reference)

I'll give it a try and let you guys know what happens!

6:24 pm on July 9, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Excellent thread - any recent updates?

This is highly relevant to this discussion over here:


6:50 pm on July 10, 2008 (gmt 0)

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IMHO PR is not at play here.

Have a couple PR2-3 sites that got slapped a few months after QS went active.
Great sites. Natural results are good.
Can not advertise ANYTHING on those sites. Nada. Since 10/18/2006.
Yet AdWords displays competitors with a typical PR0.

I also find it immensely ironic that Google hides behind Calif Auction laws for their AdWords business yet their auctions go something like this:

"75 cents going once, 75 cents going twice. Sold for 25 cents to the girl in the corner because our computer thinks she looks good."

Yeah, that's an auction alright.

John D. Rockefeller is rolling in his grave.

9:18 am on July 11, 2008 (gmt 0)

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No, you can't recover from it in my experience. If google doesn't like your site that's it. No amount of content or quality score 'fixes' will make any difference. Slaps seem to be very random, with little or no logic to them.
5:28 pm on July 17, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Yes, I have seen this, and I was able to overcome it. Not easy, will take time, but you can..

If you have $10 bids, copying pasting them to a new campaign, or sending them to a identical Landing page on a different domain will all be temporary fixes.

If you have a $10 KW with Poor QS, simply put, your ad copy and or your LP content is basically worthless. Put a)more b)unique text content on your LP. Make sure the adwords bot can read it. (no flash, JS, etc). Make sure users do not get redirected, that the KW level url is the exact url they land on your site. Then move the KW to a new campaign/ ad group. Or you can simply delete the url, and report the old url. Url change, location change, ad copy change all prompts the adwords bot to re-examine the QS of the KW...

And read some articles on Ad copy writing. look at how others have done it, and try to do it better.

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