What is the “Google Slap” and how to avoid it?

May 7, 2010 by Elias Geha in: iWeb Articles

GoogleSlapGoogle, is the most popular search engine in the world holding approximately 70% of the market share. It has now become the leading tool to search for information on the Internet. Rushing on Google several times a day for an answer to a question became a reflex. In December 2008, there were approximately 31 billion searches per month on Google.

Companies quickly saw the enormous potential of this visibility. To “exist” on the Internet, being displayed on Google is now a must. According to a popular saying, “if you are not active on Google, you’re not on the Internet.”

There are 2 methods to be found on this search engine. Though organic indexation (natural results) or through sponsored links. The second method allows to be present on Google very quickly by advertising on search result pages.

Advertisers who use this method quickly see a great value. Having achieved good results, they come back month after month. It is no accident that Google has become one of the most profitable companies in the world.

While all this is very attractive, one must be very careful not to lose its shirt with this strategy.

Sometimes we hear of companies (or individuals) who argue that this method does not work very well or that it costs them too much. We can generally assume that these people were victims of the famous “Google Slap”.

The promise from Google to its users is to always provide the best quality in terms of results. This applies both to the organic results as well as sponsored links.

How do advertisers receive the “Google Slap”

Advertisers that are inexperienced with Google, most often commit the error to simply “test” this method with a low budget. Most of the time they don’t even have a sound strategy from the outset. They do not know where to begin or how to structure their campaigns.

By starting a campaign with a low budget, and without a strategy from start, ads will occupy a low position on the page, hence reducing the volume of clicks they could generate. One can see in the picture below the distribution of clicks on a Google search results page. Since we read from left to right and from top to bottom, the links that are seen the most (and therefore clicked the most) are located in the upper left. By occupying a lower position on the page, the ads will rarely be clicked and Google will identify them as poor quality ads.


According to the logic of Google AdWords, the more ads are clicked when they are displayed and the more they are considered interesting. Google ads will then concentrate on the “most interesting” and give precedence to “good” advertisers over “bad” ones. It is very possible to obtain a higher position and pay less per click than other advertisers located below whose campaign is identified as poor. A campaign of poor quality will always be displayed by Google but it will cost more to its advertiser.

The vicious cycle that leads to the “Google Slap”

1. The campaign is poorly planned (bad structure, bad ads, bad budget, bad segmentation)
2. It gets a lower position and a “not very interesting” status (according to Google search criteria)
3. The ads are not clicked
4. Google asks to pay more per click
5. The budget increases
6. The ads are still not clicked on
7. Google asks again to pay more (to keep the ad running)
8. The budget increases again
9. Still not enough clicks on the ads.
10. Repeat steps 6-9 until the “Google Slap”.

The “Google Slap” occurs when the costs charged by Google are so high that the advertiser is discouraged to continue with running its “poor” campaign.

Here is an example of a campaign that has received the “Google Slap”.


Because the ads have a low rating (3 / 10), they are at low positions (6, 7, 8) and do not click are (0,0,0). The system then asked to show bids of $ 2.25 to $ 18 per click. Up the slope is so difficult, it is often better to completely close the campaign and again from the beginning.


To succeed with this strategy, ads must stay in the first positions as long as possible. For this, the advertiser must ensure that the campaigns have been well designed and that the landing website is able to get the full potential of each click. The “path” between the initial click to the website, followed by the ordering process until the final page (the “thank you page”) must be extremely well optimized to avoid leakage and allow traffic to convert visitors into customers in the most efficient way possible.

Elias Geha is Web Campaign Manager at iWeb



  1. This is not what is considered a Google Slap. This examples just shows how a low quality score impacts your CPC.

    I had a campaign that had many keywords with a 10/10 QS, the lowest being 7/10. I ran this campaigns for several months. Then one morning I check my Google Adwords account. All the keywords had a 1/10 QS.

    I tried reuploading the campaign, creating a new one, new landing pages, etc. Nothing would do. After 30 minutes, all my keywords were still getting 1/10.

    THIS is a Google Slap.

    It was due to the landing page being considered a “bridge page”. Now the whole domain has been slapped.

    A Google Slap has more or less to do with your CTR and max CPC (while it does impact your QS). It’s more about keyword relevancy, ad relevancy and landing page relevancy. You also need to make sure your landing pages meets Google’s TOS.

  2. Thank you Stephane for your comment and sharing your experience with us.

    Our example is the closest that we have for explaining the Google Slap concept. Obviously, we are working very hard everyday with our account to prevent this kind of behaviour. This example was taken from a badly performing campaign due to low positions and CTR. It was badly designed from the beginning and Google asked several times to increase the bids, until it asked for a very high increase.

    I have experienced stronger Google Slaps with other campaigns, but in this case, the slap came after we have been asked to increase the bids several times. If the CTR and Quality score are low, the QS will be negatively impacted and it is a matter of time before the slap occurs. Google’s promise to their visitors is to deliver the most “interesting” results. If the results are not “interesting” (which means, low CTR or QS) the advertiser must pay more until he get slapped.

    There are other situations where the Google slap may occur, but with this example, we are taking into account that the website, landing pages and the Adwords Account are scrupulously respecting Google’s TOS.

    As you mentioned, if one of Google’s TOS requirements is not met, then the Slap will come a lot faster and stronger.

  3. What a slap .. i never knew about this slap before.. :)
    nice article thank you both .. Stephane & Elias Geha


  4. you guys are using lots of jargon I am not familiar with. Can you refer me to a site that starts at the being with this so I can learn about this ? Any suggestions?? tks

  5. Hi Jessica,

    Here is the definition of the acronyms we have used above:

    CPC: Cost per Click. (The amount you pay per click, each time your ads are getting clicked)

    CTR: Click-through rate (The percentage of clicks divided by the total amount of impressions)

    TOS: Terms of Service ( = “Google’s Law”)

    QS: Quality Score (Quality score of all your metrics: account, adgroup, campaign, landing page, website, account history, etc.)

    One of the best place to begin is the Google Learning Center: http://adwords.google.com/support/

    Thank you for your comment Jessica and Good Luck.


  6. It has been my experience that if your PPT per CPC stays 60% above your IFI, you won’t have to worry about your CTT unless your SSU gets lost in your BVDs.

  7. [...] Note: you can find this post on blog.iweb.com [...]

  8. There are worse things – like never getting an ad approved, no matter how you phrase it. Identical except for landing page (different company/client) because of similar product I advertised for another company. No reason, Even tried a new account. I have had ads approved after rewording, so I know it happens because of some words and pages, but only one client has NEVER had an ad approved, after about 20 tries. I even tried exactly the same words on other clients later and they worked. Never figured out why there was a problem.
    Advertising on Craigslist worked as it was a local only business.

  9. The Google SLAP is painful!
    I too was having some success with my AdWords campaign but after some minor revisions and re-launch, I recently received the Google Slap with my domain disabled because of “Unaccaptable Business Practices” .
    After a long exchange of e-mails confirming that my ads and landing pages were meeting all the stated requirements, Google refused to be more specific and would not advise what part of my “business model” I had to change.
    My conclusion is that the classic landing page offering info in exchange for an emal address is now unacceptable to Google. That style of “business model” has also disappeared for most other advertisers that I used to see among competitors and in related sectors.
    I’ve started using Yahoo, Bing, FaceBook and Linked In with no problems, but not great results. It seems that Google requires more content on the landing pages and less direct sales approach. I’ll try building a new site on that basis but would welcome any other suggestions on how to get AdWords working again.
    Thanks, Del.