23 December 2009

Adwords Unacceptable practices

Practices Leading To Adwords Account Life Bans.

Recently I wrote about Google Adwords users getting banned by Google. This is an important signal from Google; it is affirming a business model built around the "user experience".

Google wants users to have a good user experience and that means it will control the quality of the Ads that it displays on it's advertising network.

There is little doubt that Google has suffered from becoming associated with poor quality sites that sometimes put visitors at risk.

It's latest act, driving undesirable Adwords users over the cliff, like a flock of diseased stock, is Google asserting that it is sticking to it's core commitment.

They are not going to state exactly their method but they will disable Adwords User Accounts ( for life) by identifying;

"unacceptable business practices and policy violations for poor-quality landing pages ,,,"

They say that these include but are not limited to :

  • Data collection sites that offer free items, etc., in order to collect private information
  • Arbitrage sites without relevant and original content that are designed for the purpose of showing ads
  • Affiliate sites without relevant and original content that are designed to drive traffic to another site with a different domain
  • "Get-rich quick" sites
  • Malware sites that install software on a visitor's computer
  • Poor comparison shopping or travel sites whose primary purpose is to send users to other shopping/travel comparison sites, rather than to provide useful content or additional search functionality.

Let's take an overview of these unacceptable practices;

Data Collection Sites
Google here is concerned with sites that exist simply to collect information from users - usually solely to support later marketing efforts. You may have seen sites that are basically offer you a free e-book or something to try to get your email or other ID information. They usually offer no other information of any value because that's all they are trying to do. They use this information solely for marketing purposes. Google says - "BAD" and they're out.

Arbitrage sites:
Ever been to a site where the top half of the page is simply Adsense advertising? Yes? Well the chances are that these are arbitrage sites. They use Adwords to buy cheap click traffic and aim to get you to click on their Ads at a higher click price paid to them. They pocket the difference between what they buy a click for on Adwords and what they are paid for a click by Adsense. Google says "NO LIKEY!" and they are banished.

Affiliate Sites without relevant and informative content.

People who use the Internet are looking for things but they are not always looking to be sold to. They want sites that have some interest such as opinion and information. Affiliate sites with no relevant and informative content add nothing but another click and web page between the person and their goal. They add nothing on the way of any value. Affiliates can play a reasonable role in the ecology of the Internet but on Google's patch they must add value of some sort.

Get rich quick sites
Check out on line adverts on sites which cover running an Internet hobby business and you will find Adverts for get rich quick schemes. These schemes almost never get you rich quick. The best will give you an income, even a reasonable one, if you work hard at them. The poorest may cost you money for no result. Thankfully advert servers such as Google are getting better at squeezing out those who make false promises about getting rich quickly.

Malware Sites

There is no defending people who would stoop to intentionally delivering malware or spyware to peoples sites. Google has been actively trying to remove such sites from the search results and it is rightly making sure that such sites can't exposed themselves to visitors by using Adwords. Few will mourn their passing.

Poor Comparison Shopping or travel sites
While some sites offer useful search and comparison features there are some sites which offer little real value for the user. They add nothing to the user experience. Google expects that such sites will add useful content or additional search functionality. Trying to use Adwords to promote "thin" sites will result in the Adwords account being banned.

Remember that Google applies it's rules algorithmically. In basic terms it writes a program that applies rules that test if a site fits one ( or more ) of these types. This type of programmed identification may not always be 100% accurate so if you are an Adwords user, or thinking of becoming one, then make sure you do not advertise any site that might risk being categorised as one of these types.

There are plenty of ways to make money from the Internet which give visitors value - if you do that then you will have earned your Internet income.
Google Adwords: About Disabled Accounts

10 December 2009

Dont be in the slow lane on page load speed

The one sure way to find yourself left behind in the constant race for visibility on the Internet is to fail to react to the signals that Google gives out about the weight it gives to different factors when returning search results. One of the factors that looks likely to be added into Googles weighting on search results in 2010 seems likely to be page load speed.

You may perhaps find it surprising but page load speed is not yet among the many factors that Google reportedly takes into account when determining where a website comes in the search results. I say this is surprising because any webmaster worth their salt thinks about how users behave on websites - and it doesn't take a genius to work out that users will click away from a page that takes too long to load.

If most Websmasters try to make sure that their pages load quickly anyway then what's the big deal?

Although most webmasters do attend to page load time they often then forget all about this as they add more and more widgets and images and javascript and counters to their pages. Before you know it that lovely fresh site that you designed becomes bogged down with bloated code, poorly structured HTML, code that could and should be minified and adverts that load slowly.

Although the increased page load times may seem minor to you, and perhaps at first even to your users, these increased times might make the difference between appearing on the first page of the search results or the second page once Google factors page load speed in. So this is serious because on the Internet your search results position is your one guaranteed free way of getting visitors to your site.

So, given that Google are talking about including page load speed in their search results weightings, probably in 2010, what can you do?

The first thing is to head over to Google and do a search for page speed. Ok - you are all lazy so here is the link to Google Page Speed.

There you can download and install an addon to Google that works with Firebug ( you'll need to have that addon with Firefox as well)

Once you have it installed you just load up the site and page that you want to test , run Firebug and then run PageSpeed. It will analyse the page and tell you specifically where there are things that can be done to improve your page load time.

There are a long list of things that you may have to do and I can't deal with them all in this post. I will make further posts in the coming weeks and cover some of the strategies you can use to improve the loading time of your website pages.

05 December 2009

Banned from Adsense and Adwords - Don't be!

Banning of Adsense and Adwords accounts happens all the time and it's worth taking the time to carefully read the terms of service and policies for both programs. If you are at all serious about delivering good content, advertising it and monetising that content then your Adsense and Adwords accounts will be valuable to you. There are other companies you can go with. Indeed it is sensible not to put all your eggs in one basket. But for most serious webmasters AdSense and Adwords are core programs.

There has been a recent spate of Adwords users getting banned who have had previous warnings or who have in some way infringed the program policies. The bans are lifetime bans so you should take this seriously.

It's not clear what has triggered this particular wave of bans - there may be some users who have in the past engaged in arbitrage practices with AdSense. Most of the banned people simply got a letter saying they had broken the program policies and that they were banned for life.

So here's a tip - if you haven't recently checked that your site, it's content and your ads all comply with the AdSense and AdWords program policies then do it now. Don't wait until you get a goodbye e-mail from Google.