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Competitor has 4 different bids on same keyword, crowding others out!

One single competitor has 4 different sites listed in the same keyword.

10:46 pm on Feb 21, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Quick summary then you can skip to my longer description below if you want.

A competitor has 3 (possibly 4) ads for the same keyword. He is using what appear to be different sites, but once you google just a little bit, you realize he owns all of the 4 sites. At the very least, this is crowding other sites out from being able to bid effectively. More importantly, his sites are incredibly scammy (more info below) so he is really giving our industry a bad name. I'd hate to advertise myself next to him anyway!

So, quick question: how do I contact Google? How do I contact them without my message getting lost in the void? Also, SHOULD I contact them or will I just look like a sour grapes competitor?


Detailed info:

So, as you can see from the dates on my profile, I used to run a company that did a lot of Adwords ads in the past. I left the company and the industry a few years ago.

This year I decided to come back, with a different company, but in the same niche. I of course thought of Adwords first, as I had basically built that 1st company entirely on the back of a successful adwords campaign.

What I discovered was the majority of the ads in our niche were for low cost/low quality... some of them scammy sites. I thought, "Gee, this niche really has gone to the dogs."

So I did some googling and sure enough, these were horrible sites, filled with RipOffReport posts and tons of Better Business Bureau complaints.

But it was in doing those RipoffReport and BBB searches that I made my discovery. Several of the RipOffReport complaints were "rebutted" by the same guy. Sure enough, the BBB listed him on multiple of these sites as the owner. Furthermore, when I went deeper into the sites in question (i.e., made an order) the order page took me to an SSL that had the same domain in common. Guess who owned the domain hosting the SSL? Our same guy. BBB also listed him as the owner of that domain/company.

So, this is bad for my new company and for my niche/industry in several ways.

1) I can't begin bidding for keywords because this guy is locking them up with multiple sites. They all look different, have slightly different pricing, but they are CLEARLY all "him" once you do the research.
2) All these sites are driving down the reputation of my niche. Forget about the low low cost... I can compete with that (though that is clearly part of his scam... why charge more when you can rope people in for less and then rip them off). The bigger problem is that he's polluted this entire niche. I'm not kidding you, one of his "sites" has BBB complaints into the hundreds.


How do I get in contact with Google in a meaningful way? Does anyone know of a complaint form or email address that I can direct a message to about a guy violating adwords policy? And I'm afraid that a standard "form" won't get any notice. I mean, I can provide screen shots, BBB reports, whois lookups, etc., etc. But a random form submission just feels like it will go out into the void.

And furthermore, how can I not look like another disgruntled competitor? I feel this is doing serious harm to this niche/industry/set of keywords. But if Google is happy taking his money, why would they listen to me?

Any and all advice is welcome.
7:29 pm on Feb 22, 2013 (gmt 0)

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They take Double Serving very seriously. If you're certain, submit. If you submit, they'll review it. Above all else, G wants to give consumers a good experience, and this policy is an important aspect of that.

At the bottom of the policy page here:
You can contact them.

Personally, I'd call support, but only if I were absolutely certain of ownership overlap, and only if the items and prices looked very similar, and only if I thought the situation was impacting my biz or my client's biz, and only if I were looked at their exact policy points, and were certain which clauses they were specifically violating. I'd lay the case out on paper first, as if I were reporting it to Google in writing - for two reasons, to send G this info once a ticket is opened, and to be precisely sure which clauses I'm accusing a competitor of violating.

Make sure you're right, make sure it's clear to you, make sure you can report a clear argument to G - before you take any action.
7:04 pm on Feb 23, 2013 (gmt 0)

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They'll do nothing.

I know some will claim I'm being negative or just spouting hyperbole, but I've seen it so many times I quit caring because Google doesn't care either.

Adwords bans legit advertisers and the scumbags will always find a way back in.

If this guy gets caught he'll just start 4 new companies and change them up a bit and get 4 new Adwords accounts. But in my previous experience, Google will do nothing so he won't even need to do that.
9:07 pm on Feb 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Definitely report that to Google. They will review it. You can contact google support as RhinoFish mentioned.
this is a link to a support form [support.google.com...]

also you can always contact google directly via phone or chat through the adwords ui.
8:54 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Let us know what you learn. This deserves to be brought to the light of day.
11:21 pm on Mar 7, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I too have had a shady competitor double serving by a factor of 6-7 for years. On some keywords has all 7 sites appearing out of the 11 spots available!

All the sites have fake registations from overseas but all are hosted on the same server with the same C block of IP's in the middle east yet presenting themselves as a US based company.

This sector is for a US only consumer software product and this guy also has TONS of complaints for all these sites.

The latest trick is to advertise a fake "customer reviews" site in the top three placements on adwords falsely reviewing ALL his other sites only from a different U.S. based shared server. Funny thing is there's no contact form or any other way for anyone to post a review or contact the site in any way so you would think that alone would be enough proof to google to warrant shutting it down as a "fake arbitrage" site along with the other double serving sites as well.

Please do keep us posted on your progress and I will do the same.

I too feel this type of advertiser hurts the credibility of our sector and is in clear violation of google adwords terms of service.
5:36 pm on Mar 8, 2013 (gmt 0)

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We have been double serving for the past year, with Google's permission. It's not technically double serving, as we only sell brand X widgets on one site, and brand Y widgets on the other site, so Google categorized it as different branding, and not double serving. The reality is that people are either going to buy brand x or brand y, so it was a good test.

After doing this for a year, we found that yes we got more customers, and more sales, however our advertising costs have gone up to mostly offset any advantage.

This year we are going back to a single adwords account, and are combining brand x and y on the same website.

The little additional profit we received from Double Serving was not worth the extra administrative overhead.

The person that is Triple or Quad serving, must have a high profit margin, and a low bounce rate, as paying twice as much across two accounts, gives you less than twice as many customers, with decreasing performance as you scale up.
8:57 pm on Mar 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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fake "customer reviews" site...

Not new at all, Google's wise to it, and so is the FTC.
Report them to G.
File a complaint with the FTC.
G penalty can be lifetime ban, FTC is far worse.
12:28 pm on May 26, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Seem to be a lot of fake reviews sites about in different fields, surprised that google are not filtering out this nonsense.

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