The AdWords Trap: Emerging Cottage Industry Helps SMBs Maximize PPC Performance


ADOTAS — Google AdWords means big business for the millions of companies using the popular pay-per-click service, and there is a critical need to keep accounts current and operational to drive valuable web traffic back to online sites. For marketers looking to create demand in the global marketplace, AdWords has become an extremely important line item in the marketing budget. In fact, according to PPC company WordStream, roughly 2 million small businesses spent a combined $7.2 billion on Google AdWords in 2011.

Truth be told, SMBs don’t really have a ton of online advertising options these days, and many rely solely on Google AdWords to keep their businesses alive.

But the nuances behind Google AdWords policies can be difficult for some companies to understand, and occasionally, accounts get flagged and suspended by Google for violations ranging from the use of banned keywords to incorrect dynamic insertion techniques and the inclusion of affiliate marketing links. For marketers just learning the ropes, there is a need for assistance navigating these waters.

A Burgeoning Industry

As of late, a booming cottage industry has emerged dedicated to helping suspended accounts get back online, focusing on PPC management and AdWords compliance. Companies relying on this form of advertising that may not have a comprehensive understanding of how AdWords works or the specifics behind account optimization and policy compliance may explore services that can help get them back on track.

One such company called PPCXpress, claims it has helped clients recover almost 140 million visitors to their websites that would have otherwise been lost due to suspended AdWords accounts.

“What most people don’t know is that there are over 15 departments that monitor the Google AdWords network and if any one of those departments have an issue with your advertising, you can easily get kicked-off,” said Dathen Fairley, CEO and co-founder of PPCXpress. “All it takes is one department to have an issue with your account and you’re toast. To make it even worst, when applying to get approval to run again, your case has to be reviewed by all 15+ departments, and each department has to sign-off on your case before they will let you back on to their AdWords network.”

Another company that provides a similar service is called, which claims to offer a money-back guarantee if it cannot get a suspended account back online.  In essence, these companies work with Google as a company’s agent to resolve account concerns and update campaigns to adhere to Google’s policies.

While Adotas hasn’t explored the validity of these companies’ claims, others in the industry urge people to be weary of magic fixes.

“For both paid and organic search, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, but there is one critical difference in PPC – having access to Google reps makes a huge difference,” said Pete Meyers, marketing scientist at inbound marketing company Moz. “If you’ve been suspended, hiring a company can make all the difference. I still wouldn’t believe outlandish claims, and there’s no magical tool to reinstate accounts, but that direct line to Google is very important.”

PPC Optimization Considerations

Of course, it would be best for companies to completely avoid getting their accounts suspended in the first place. When building PPC accounts, it might be best to consider options like signing with third-party PPC management services like Silverback Strategies, Logical Position, or Jumpfly. Companies who want to manage their own AdWords accounts may want to consider signing up for an online PPC account performance grader like WordStream to get recommendations on ways to optimize campaigns without violating Google’s policies.

According to AdWords management company White Shark Media, the most common mistakes that contribute to poor campaign performance include:

  • Using One Campaign with All Ad Groups for All Keywords. It is important to build separate targeted keywords and ad groups to easily optimize performance and A/B test ads.
  • Using Only Broad Match. While the standard match type is Broad Match, this should rarely be used because it will eat up a majority of your budget. If selected, Broad Match will allow Google to show your ads for anything they find remotely relevant.
  • Too Many Changes All the Time. The best way to test new ads or keywords is to limit the number of variables you change at once. The best recommendation is to just let the campaign run so that you can properly view vital metrics like CTRs before adjusting your strategy.

Meyers said that if companies decide to optimize their AdWords accounts on their own, then need to start small and measure everything.

“Too many companies throw money at AdWords for a couple months – because, let’s face it, throwing money at AdWords is easy – see no results, then give up,” he said. “Start narrowly – for example, target phrase- and exact-match keywords, narrow your spend to optimal times of day, and create separate campaigns for different local/regional markets. Better to ramp up slowly and get your money’s worth than bet everything on black and lose it all in a blaze of glory.”


  1. Google relaunched their advertising partner program on September 30th. Google appears to be aggressively investing in educating their channel partners to drive best practices and of course additional revenue.

    Search agencies catering to SMBs will be an attractive avenue for businesses that don’t have the in-house skills to manage AdWords campaigns and have no plans to acquire them.

    Google AdWords Certification is and will continue to be the watermark for starting point of agency credibility, with social-amplified word of mouth (e.g. online reviews) equally important.


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