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The Great Google AdWords Slap of 2009 and What to Do About It

What Happened?

Earlier this year, Google radically altered the quality score system that is central to every AdWords pay per click campaign. For those of you who are new to this, the quality score dictates the cost per click of your AdWords advertisements and the position of those advertisements within the ‘sponsored results’ column displayed whenever a customer searches for something using the Google search engine.

Many online entrepreneurs who relied upon Google for traffic generation suddenly found their turnover dropping. In some cases, it didn’t just drop, it plummeted. In the most severe cases, it dried up entirely. Investigating this sudden interruption in their revenue streams, these online entrepreneurs discovered that their quality scores had fallen, on average, seven points. When you consider that the quality score ranges from one to 10, seven points is a significant drop.

Suddenly the advertisements upon which these business people depended for their livelihood were no longer deemed of sufficient quality to appear on the first page of sponsored links results. The only way to stay in the game was pay a first page bid price that was spiralling upwards at an astonishing rate. Most online entrepreneurs soon recognised that they had been effectively ‘priced out’ of using AdWords at all.

If your website is essentially a list-building ‘squeeze page’, you’ll need to take the same approach, creating a landing page which provides a substantial, relevant and original response to the Google user’s query. A link on this page can then send the reader on to your squeeze page, where it’s business as usual.

If you’re using your website to sell eBooks or information products, just don’t explicitly mention that fact on your landing page; hold off until page two.

If you’re in it for the long haul, you’ll need to do everything you can to make your website as useful as possible to those you have invited via Google’s sponsored search results. That means lots of original content, outbound links to authoritative sites (such as!) and, where possible, inbound links from relevant sites.

Instead of creating a website to advertise your product, you have to create a site which is useful in itself, which adds something of value to the customer’s experience, and then advertise your product on it.

In a nutshell, if you think ‘customer, customer, customer’ when creating your website, not only will you overcome the effects of the 2009 Google AdWords slap, you’ll be almost immune to any subsequent slaps that Google has in store for internet entrepreneurs in the future.

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