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Google Adwords, Landing Pages, and Policy Violations

Image Google Adwords, Landing Pages, and Policy Violations

By Vanessa Salvia

Google has a hand in just about every business decision that business owners make these days. This even includes Google's opinion on whether a landing page is of high quality.

A landing page is a webpage that the customers will be taken to (or where they will "land") when they click your online pay-per-click (PPC) ad. The web address for this page is also called a "destination URL" or "click-through URL".

This is important to users of PPC advertisements because landing page quality is one of several factors that determine a keyword's Quality Score. In order to manage the vast number of searches and keywords that people are paying to use on Google, the site naturally has to implement some sort of quality control, to determine how relevant your advertisement text is to the keyword that the user is searching for. Quality Score is determined by a keyword's click-through rate, the relevancy of your ads, keywords, and landing page to the person seeing the ad, as well as landing page quality. A higher Quality Score means that your ad will appear in a higher position and at a lower cost-per-click.

The problem with this system up until recently is that it was difficult to distinguish the reason for a low Quality Score. A low score could be caused by Google thinking that the landing page was poor, or that the site as a whole somehow violated Google's policies. But what the violation might actually have been was often unclear. Luckily, Google introduced changes to help people identify policy violations from mere poor quality.

If a page or site violates one or more of Google's policies, your ad will be marked as "Site suspended." Since the ads associated with the keyword are not being displayed for a suspended site, a Quality Score is no longer calculated or shown.Google will usually email you including a link with more information about the specific policy that was violated, with tips to fix the issue.

If you are advertising using PPC and you see this message, investigate site and landing page policies. These policies are helpful to understand, as it gives fairly clear expectations about what Google wants to see on a high quality site. For instance, Google bans sites and landing pages that display a 404 error message when you try to go to the site (meaning they aren't functioning properly), or those with unclear billing practices, and those websites that "mirror" another website by copying the same or similar content onto another domain.

The lesson

If you previously got a low Quality Score or had ads that did not appear, you should now know if it is because your site is violating policy, or is simply low quality. If quality is the problem, you now have the opportunity to improve whatever you can. Typically, low quality of this nature is going to be caused by little content, or content that is not relevant to the keyword your ad is bidding on. In Google's own words, your site should offer value for users. Otherwise, what is there to make a user go to your site over any other site? Is there any other content you can offer to provide more information, in the form of features or reviews?

Take a critical look at your site and make sure that it is clear to the user how you will use the information they provide, and that information about how to contact you and what the user will be getting (for instance, if they click on a download or sign up button) is absolutely clear. Make sure it is easy to navigate your site, and that users can quickly and easily get important and relevant information with just a few clicks.

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