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Turn Around A Google Slapped Adwords Campaign in 6 Easy Steps


Google AdWords / May 21, 2008

With all the recent changes Google has made to their quality score algorithm it can be much more difficult for new advertisers to obtain a “Good” or even “Great” quality score. Recently we’ve encountered a higher instance of clients approaching us after their Adwords account had been “Google slapped” so to speak. Some of these new clients had experienced one or several of the following Google slap phenomena in their Adwords campaigns:

  • A “Poor” quality score on most of their keywords no matter how relevant they were to their product or service
  • Increase in minimum bids of anywhere from $1.00 to $12.00
  • Several keywords becoming “inactive for search”

We’ve identified several strategies to help turn things around from within a Google slapped campaign. Here are a few of the main things you can do to start reversing Google’s poor quality score rating:

1. Open a New Account

Starting fresh with a new account is sometimes the best solution since Google applies the quality score at the account level based on several criteria including historical account performance. This means that the longer your account has been rated with a poor quality score, the harder it will be for you to turn things around.

This strategy in and of itself however is just the beginning since Google has gotten wise to this tactic and has incorporated variables such as historical keyword performance and your website performance into the quality score equation. Just the same we have seen minimum bids requirements reduced by 50% in some cases just from this one move.

Note: Don’t forget to close the original account that got Google slapped – it’s against their Terms of Service to have two accounts for the same website.

2. Properly Theme Your Adgroups and Keywords

You’ve probably heard this one before: The more relevant and tightly themed your adgroups and keywords are, the better your chances are that Google will reward your account with a higher quality score.

Like most of us did when we first started out with PPC campaigns, we took a large number of somewhat related keywords and dumped them into one or at most a small handful of adgroups. Long gone are the days when you could actually get away with this.

Today even minor variations in keyword themes should be split up into their own adgroups. Yes, now is the time to go crazy on segregating your keywords. Here’s a general rule of thumb to guide you in case you’re wondering if the number of adgroups you’re creating is overkill – If you can write a more targeted text ad for your new group of keywords, then it’s probably a good idea to put them into their own adgroup.

3. Pause the Worst Offending Keywords

Stopping the quality score bleed is critical so you want to make sure that the keywords which are affected the worst, ex: those with a “Poor” quality score are paused for the time being. This step is crucial because “Poor” keywords act as a cancer in the campaign and can cause keywords that were “OK” to move to “Poor”.

Leave active only those keywords that have at least an “OK” quality score so that your overall account score improves. Once you see that most of your “OK” keywords move to “Great” then you can gradually begin reintroducing the “Poor” ones and closely monitor them for positive changes or a negative impact on the adgroup and account.

Hint: Look for keywords moving from “Great” back to “OK”, “OK” to “Poor” and/or increases to the minimum bid required.

4. Keep an Eye on Your Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is key in any Adwords account but even more so in a campaign that has been Google slapped. Now is not the time to be patient with the CTR, once there is a good amount of impressions with no to low clicks or for example, a CTR of less than 1% on at least 50 impressions, then pause those keywords and/or text ads.

A low CTR can eventually cause “OK” keywords to become “Poor” and even if that doesn’t happen, a low CTR will negatively impact the account’s overall quality score. So aim high!

5. Optimize Your Landing Pages for Relevancy

Google is now placing much more weight on landing page factors that impact the quality score including, relevancy, ease of navigation, transparency with visitors on information collected and most recently, site load times.

That said, tweaking landing pages to follow Google’s suggested guidelines will not only result in a better quality score but also may lead to an increase in your conversion rates.

6. Diversify to Other Engines like Yahoo and MSN

This last point is not something that will improve your Adwords quality score, but while you’re working on reversing the Google slap on your account, I highly recommend running PPC campaigns on the other major engines if you’re not already doing so.

This will not only give you the opportunity to get some traffic and conversions while your Adwords campaign climbs back up to where you want it to be, but will also help you identify keywords that have a higher potential for conversions so you can more quickly figure out where to place your efforts in Adwords.

Share Your Google Counter Slap Strategies

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, these are a few strategies that had a significant impact on turning around an Adwords account that had been Google slapped from within the account. Have a strategy that you used to reverse the effects of a Google slap in your Adwords account? We’d love to hear about it!

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