Here is the letter I wrote to Google Adwords team September 17th, 2006. I mentioned a few days ago I would post this. It is lengthy (4 pages in Word), so grab a cup of tea and enjoy reading it. All the example domains/site names have been removed for privacy reasons. I would love some feedback on this post and to know if you are a victim to a google lie too.
I found recently a concern with another Adword user. On the search term Camera Prices
[removed url for privacy]
I found a site that is abusing the "long term" goal of Adwords and maybe be classified as a MFA site. Just give me a few minutes of your time and I will show you why. In case you don't see the same advertiser today, I have screenshots to show you what I saw today. Here is the Ad URL:
[removed url for privacy]
[removed site name for privacy] landing page for the Google search CAMERA PRICES, if you click on [site name - removed] ad, it takes you to a search result within their site, which, the first 7 pieces of content you see are the same exact ads on the Google search, previous page. Except, his ad (as of today is ranked 5th) is not shown on ad landing page.
Ok, that might be accepatable - I suppose. But browsing on down to see if the site has camera prices, I find just three cameras with prices. I do see a link near the bottom to show more cameras, but, I also see 7 more Adsense ads at the very bottom. So this site owner has 12 Adsense ads, the same ads on the Google search. How is this useful for me as a user?
Even more, if you click on one of the main categories at the top of the page, "electronics" you get the landing page of:
[removed url for privacy]
You will see 19 Adsense ads for 5 products and 8 subcategories. At this point I am thinking, why so many Adsense results? Ok, maybe this site is more useful when I find a product. So let's say:
[removed url for privacy]
Ok, on the left side I see "Read Reviews". I like reading reviews, and sometimes writing them. Ok, no reviews listed but there are 8 Adsense ads listed. Hmmm, so far this site isn't striking of cord for usefulness?
If I want to leave a review or ask a product specific question how can I? There is a User Policy on this site that seems like (when you read the entire policy) you can create a user account but no where is there a place to signup or login? If I wasn't an advertiser myself and just a regular searcher I would say this site is not useful but just keeps giving me Adsense ads, which I could get doing searches on Google. And, this site is confusing, is it a site that sells electronics or a shopping comparison site? Even if a shopping comparison, why so many Adsense ads listed everywhere? I did some research and there seems to be a term for these kinds of sites, MFA (Made for Adsense) site.
What I find hard to believe is that this Adwords user has not been docked by the "landing page quality" algo change. Why hasn't it? After more researching, this site is an Adsense Premium publisher, meaning the site receives 20mil (or 50mil, I forget the requirements at the moment) page views a month. Wow, how is this site generating that many page views a month? For popular search terms you can't find the site listed in organic search results on Google, nor Yahoo or MSN for that matter.
Well, if you do more searches on Google, you will see that this advertiser is advertising what seems to be every possible common search terms related to shopping. Wow, ok, now I see how the site can receives so many page views. The site advertises every common search term along with product related keywords - which this site is a Shopping.com affiliate, and Shopping.com has over 1million products. Ok, you do the math on how many ads [removed for privacy] is doing. No to forget the site represents 5 countries, so 5x of Adwords ads. Better yet, don't take my word on it, just have someone aut
horized to check [removed for privacy] Adword accounts.
So now that begs me to ask, is Google giving a special circumstance to this site because it is an Adsense Premium publisher? Why is this site considered to be useful when it seems more confusing to me (as a normal user). Do you personally find this site useful for the search terms Camera Prices? Surely you don't have many choices on the current landing pages for those keywords. Even beyond those keywords and once landing on the pages, the real content is slim on many pages. Strip away the Adsense ads and you have a Shopping.com site.
Again, begging to ask, why is this site still advertising some million plus keywords? Please please tell me, it is not for Google to make more money. Please tell me it isn't so. Please tell me that Google is not favoring SEM ([removed for privacy] uses a SEM company out of Germany) companies who are big spenders while hard working little guys are forced to anti up.
Am I writing you today because I am mad at Google? YES, I am and so are many other non MFA site owners who work hard to build a genuine experience for users & USE ADWORDS. You might be asking by now, am I a site penalized by the new Adwords algo? YES, I am. Ah, some motive in this email. YES, it is true. I can't seem to come to grips why my site, which is useful, is being docked for 95% of my keywords. No reason to write back and ask me which site I am speaking of. I have already talked to Guyer (Adwords supervisor) three times on this issue not to mention 5 other Adword reps. And, yes, I did put a request in for a "site review". It has been almost 2 weeks now.
It seems Adword reps are being trained to answer our questions a specific way. I found if you ask enough similar questions phrased differently, you get conflicting answers between other Adword reps. And, there is even more! At this point, I am going out on a limb here but I truly feel like Google has lied to us! Yes, lied. Feeling a bit like a child right now I feel like saying that old saying "lire lire pants on fire" - OR - "you are a bad boy Google". How so? Well, here just one lie I decided to add here:
1) landing page quality, Ha, it is not just about landing page quality is it? One Adword rep says it is about the Adwords long term reputation. "We want to deliver quality ad results for our searchers". Why are so many non useful sites still advertising? Another question, if you really are concerned about user experience, then why make the higher cpc's even available? I mean, if those sites don't have good landing page quality or are not considered "useful" why even allow them to advertise? Doesn't that contradict Google's "long term Adword reputation" idea? And, it leads to another subject. Is this about Google forcing others to pay more money while padding Google's net worth, for Google investors?
2) Ok, I feel another itch, opps, another lie. The Adwords crew wrote in the Adwords blog on July 7^th 2006, and I quote, "Thus, over the coming days a small number of advertisers who are providing a low quality user experience on their landing pages will see increases in their minimum bids." (source: http://Adwords.blogspot.com/2006/07/landing-page-quality-update.html ). You say a small number, but why so many bloggers and those who partake in forums are complaining so much? I know some are MFA site owners, which is good to see them complain and that your new algo worked for them, but many are not MFA sites. If small guys are complaining, you would think any big guys hurt by this new algo change would be complaining too, in a big way. Like, in the press or even on the Larry King Live! But, no, we don't see that happening... Hmmm, I wonder why? Maybe because they are paying so many Adwords dollars to Google! Ah, but "Google doesn't play favorites", another Adword rep said. Well, accept my challenge and point me to a source that shows a big Adwords spender complaining about your a
lgo change made this past July. Not just one, but a handful of complaints.
I have a list of more, what I call, "Google lies" I wanted to add, but I think you understand where I am going. By the way, I don't like writing about stuff like this. But, I work hard for my money and I in turn trust your Adwords service to help me re-invest that money into building up my website brand, awareness and user base. When people start messing with "our money" (charging 25x more for the same service), we get mad. Especially when other less "useful" sites are getting away with advertising for 25x less.
There is no difference between that and you walking down the street and someone mugs you. You get mad that the guy did that, right? Chances are if the guy approached you and first warned "Hey, I am a mugger, give me 10 bucks", promising not to hurt you, you would have easily handed over the money and been glad it ended that way.
Speaking of money, is Google stealing from Peter to pay Paul? Think Lane's Gift lawsuit. I am nearing to conclude that this whole algo change was to keep Google's net revenue growth consistent so investors keep giving Google money, forcing small business owners to pay more 25x times more for ads.
Although I may be a bit sarcastic here and there in this letter/email, I am truly looking for answers. I would personally like an answer why big sites (meaning big Adwords spenders) aren't being penalized and smaller sites are? I have already asked this numerous times to the Adwords supervisor - Guyer - and no concrete answer was ever given. Nor a review finalized for my website.
When giant companies upset small guys we get mad and tell the world. That requires a lot of time, determination and many times money. I don't want to be the small guy that keeps beating Google on the head asking for answers to legitimate questions. But, at the same time, I am ready to tell the world and start forcing Google to come down to a level that honest webmasters (non MFA sites) can look Google in the eye and say "ok, I trust you and want to continue with your Adwords service, even though I might have to pay more". Take a look around at all the forums and blogging sites, do you see this kind of trust or do you see people who feel like Google is trying to mug them?
I know this has been a bit lengthy but I am hoping that you will see my concern and give me a "real" response. I say real because in the past when writing in to Adwords support, 90% of the time, I get a template email response which just puts a bad taste in my mouth. I will wait a week for a response. If I don't hear back I will assume my concerns aren't a matter for Google and will post this on my blog, asks columnists to write on this, pay for online Press Releases, and ask business magazines to warn other business owners. And maybe even start a social website for legitimate Adwords spenders (non MFA sites) to complain.
Again, I don't like doing this but your Adwords team has upset a small guy and hasn't dealt with advertisers fairly, across the board. I always stand for what is "just", and Google is not being "fair" at this point.
Google would have less upset advertisers if Google would just came out and say: "Hey, this is our business model and we are sticking to our guns!".