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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Landing Page Quality Update: Christmas Comes Early for Doc

My friend Doc (not his real name) ran into a bit of a snag two weeks ago. His high-performing, money-making, perfectly above-board AdWords campaign ran up against a Landing Page and Website Quality sweep. All his Quality Scores got whacked down to 1. The campaign went into hibernation.

Advertisers in his niche have two potential reactions:

1. Ramp up the crying and complaining, rant superstitiously about Google Slaps and evildoing, and vow never to do business with Google again.

2. Don't panic. Determine the source of the problem. Contact Google reps (who may not be able to share very much, but if you are a conscientious business, may sympathize) to ask for a manual review.

I recommended the latter to Doc. Many advertisers aren't aware that they can get reasonably good service even as an "ordinary" advertiser, simply by contacting the Google AdWords 800 number and punching in the Client ID#. You may even find you get a de facto "dedicated" rep if you follow this course of action. Even if your spend is relatively small. Avoid calling anyone names in the process.

In Doc's case, we isolated three potential sources of the violation.

1. His new landing page tilted too far over to the "email squeeze page" side of things. I recommended he put back some global navigation and the business information at the bottom of the page, as he had been using with past offers.

2. Related to that, visually the squeezing was a bit too aggressive for my tastes. I recommended putting the email signup box farther down the page, use anchor link for users who want to get down there faster, and just making things look a bit friendlier.

3. The real killer seems to have been a site hack. Someone had hacked his website and placed sneaky code pointing to a link farm dealing in Seychelles timeshares, weight loss potions, etc. Uh oh! The Adsbot might have seen that.

All in all, restoring his website to respectability merited a second look by Google. And that's exactly what happened. They promise nothing and never provide turnaround times for "updating" landing page quality scores, as these updates tend to be infrequent compared with the real-time calculation of keyword quality scores for each auction.

In this case, following the procedural advice I provided and dealing respectfully with the process, Google's turnaround to updating his quality scores (they returned to normal) was 7 days. Particularly impressive around holiday time.

Happy holidays everyone! May you control the things you can, and not stress over the things you cannot.

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