What is the "Googleslap"?

In the summer of 2006, many people who were using Google Adwords found their ads had been disabled and Google was telling them they needed to bid more to re-instate their ads.

This was christened the “Googleslap” and, since then, there have been a number of additional “slaps” where Google have targetted another group of advertisers.

So, what’s going on?

Google, as usual, haven’t been too explicit about their intentions but, reading between the lines, here’s what I think is going on:

I believe that Google Corp has two main long-term goals:

(1) To remain the #1 search engine.

(2) To monetise that position.       

A key part of this means that Google want to maximise their income from the search engine results pages (SERPS).

Right now, the vast majority of searchers click on the natural listings (income for Google: $0). So, Google would like more and more people to click on the ads instead.

One way would be to lower the quality of the search engine results, thus pushing searchers towards the ads.

But Google aren’t that stupid. They know, if they were to do that, they’d undermine their position as the top search engine and they would just push their users towards other search engines.

So, they’ve taken the long term view that the best way to get people to use the ads more often is by improving the quality of “ad experience”.

By “ad experience” I mean the quality and relevance of the advertiser’s website and landing page.    

And, if the “ad experience” is as good as the experience of clicking on the natural listings, then the two sides of the page (natural and paid) will become equally popular among google users.

Net result: lots of long-term moolah for Google!

While I expect the Googleslaps to continue into the future, most advertisers have little to worry about.

If your ads are relevant to the search term, they should get a decent clickthrough rate. And, if your ctr is ok and your site is delivering what searchers are looking for, then Google should be giving you a “good” or “great” quality score.

And that means your minimum bid prices shouldn’t change much.

Steve Gibson, August 2007

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