Affiliates and the AdWords Double Serving violation

AdWords Double Serving
AdWords Double Serving

One of the main issues Affiliates have with AdWords (or, one of the main issues AdWords Has with Affiliates) is misunderstanding the Double Serving violation. Unfortunately, most Affiliate marketers, don’t have a clear picture of what double serving violation is and how to avoid it, so they keep violating AdWords instructions, until they find themselves banned from AdWords, sometimes for life.

While the double serving violation is not limited for Affiliates only, it is so wide-spread among us, that we can refer to it as the “Anti Affiliation Violation“. In a previous article, ‘Double Serving – the anti affiliation policy‘, I talked about the history of this violation, and why it was inevitable for Google to present Affiliates with this penalty. Today I wish to discuss the ways for avoiding it all together.

So why does Google get so mad when an Affiliate marketer performs the double serving violation?

Google is very concerned with the user experience. Google tries it’s best to show users ‘the right ads at the right time’, and declare ‘that advertising can be effective, engaging, and useful – without being annoying’. Google wants to verify that all AdWords advertisers offer only a positive experience to the users, so it prohibits the advertisers from performing such actions that damage the User Experience.  Since a good user experience is a main factor in  Google’s success (clicking on AdWords ads, we trust Google to deliver us only to websites relevant to what we are searching for) it is Google’s own brand you are messing with, when you try to mislead AdWords. Therefore, whenever violating AdWords terms you are playing with fire and a ‘Google Slap‘ is just a matter of time…

Back to Double Serving violation. One of the main issues Google has with advertisers is their habit to present the same result under different URL’s. Whenever two paid search results offer exactly the same thing, but in another domain, Google describes this as “Double Serving“. Therefore, according to Google, Double Serving violation occurs when you use two different websites to offer exactly the same thing, simple as that.

Is it the end of the AdWords-Affiliate love affair? In short, yes, Affiliates can no longer use AdWords as they did two years ago, since Google won’t allow basic-affiliation anymore.

So what can we do? Be smart, be honest and give better value to Google’s users by offering unique content, unique LP, unique URL’s and, from now on also unique offers. Otherwise, a double serving penalty is on it’s way to you.

How can you, as an Affiliate provide a unique offer? You can do this in one of the following methods:

1. When you give the same product / service / deal in a new packaging, adding or removing few basic features to create a ‘Unique’ offer.

2. When you set up a  different pricing model or just a nice discount, disassociating yourself from the herd. Such new pricing models could be the use of a free trial (be aware that Google also has an issue with using ‘free’, ‘free download’ and ‘free trials’, so when you wish to use such terms in your landing page, make them real, not just an illusion to attract action). Another example could be splitting the product into two smaller ones, and sell them separately (when possible) etc.

3. Combination of the two options stated above (unique offer + unique pricing)

4. A white-label with a unique name and identity. Always done better when you change the offer itself and the pricing (as mentioned above, in number 3). Learn more about white-labels and white lists.

5. Create a new operation, when you add people to your list of subscribers and email them information about this offer, along with other offers, related to their field of  interest.

While the last option is a great way of turning your campaign into a business (remember, ‘the money is in the list’) you should be careful not to turn your operation into ‘Information Harvesting‘, as this is another common Google Violation.

I always recommend that my readers take their operation one step further and set up a Real business, with a solid business model and plan ahead for at least 3-5 years. If you have reached that level of understand, you should read the Difference between tactics and strategy.

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