Dealing With Google’s New Rules

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Here’s a podcast of this blog post

Or you can listen to it here:

(The audio is different than what I wrote below)

If you’re using Google Adwords, you’ve probably already seen or heard about the change that’s coming on April 1, 2008:


Important Change to URL Policy Enforcement

Starting in April, display URLs for new ads will be required to match their destination / landing page URLs, without exception. Please adjust your URLs accordingly when creating new ads.

I’ve had a few people ask me about how to deal with this so here are a few thoughts:

1. For People Doing Direct Linking

I have 3 solutions for how to deal with this for people who are direct linking to affiliate programs.

First, get better at adwords than your competitors and out rank them. By out rank them, I mean write a better ad that gets a better CTR and hence a higher ranking ad in google’s results. If you do this, you can use the merchants display url with your affiliate link and your ad will be shown above all other affiliates.

If the merchant is advertising for themselves on your keyword…I don’t really have a solution for you. Very often if you outrank the merchant they’ll get really mad at you for being better than they are at selling their product and they’ll kick you out of their affiliate program.

However, if you’re just competing with other affiliates, writing a better ad will usually do the trick to get your ad shown.

One thing you need to realize in this is that while google doesn’t dislike affiliate marketing, it doesn’t help their core business. Affiliates usually fill an inefficiency in a marketplace. Google doesn’t like inefficiencies and if they can take care of them without having an affiliate in the mix, they’ll be more than happy to do so.

As a direct linking affiliate, you’re fighting an uphill battle. Not that it can’t be fought, but over the years google has shown a consistent pattern of making it more and more difficult to do direct linking as an affiliate.

Knowing this, you can either make the choice to continue doing it, fighting the uphill battle, or you can chose to evolve and do something that google isn’t fighting against.

At this point, it’s like the days when adsense died. Google had made it clear that they didn’t like sites that were made for adsense (MFA sites). At one point they made a change where it became very difficult to continue with the page generator/adsense business model. Smart people changed their model. Others continued doing it because it was the easiest path, and today they’re really struggling (at least…I don’t know anyone who is still succeeding with that model. If you do, I want to know them).

Second, set up your own domain. You have a few options in doing this. You can set up a simple iframe landing page where your domain just has a page with an iframe on it. The src= part of the iframe is your affiliate link. Sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t know how google is going to deal with it with their new rules. But, doing this, you can have your display URL be the same as the actual page where the person ends up (because they’re on your website).

Another option for your own landing page is to try and add value to the transaction you’re trying to create. As an affiliate, you’re trying to get person A (buyer) to buy product B. If all you’re doing is providing a link to product B, you’re not adding very much value to that transaction.

However, if you can give person A a reason to buy product B (You give this reason on your website), now you’re adding value to the transaction and now you’re starting to build a business for yourself.

In doing this, you leave the realm of people google is fighting against and join the side of people google likes…information providers.

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