« Google now targets AdSense on pages behind password protection | Main | AdSense now offers rounded and squared ad unit corners »

June 05, 2007

AdSense Policy Updates bring new quality guidelines and more link units

It's that time again! Google AdSense has updated their Policies... and don't forget, when you agreed to the AdSense Terms, you also agreed to adhere to the policies, even when they are updated.

The first main issue is the quality aspect of it for publishers.

Webmaster Guidelines

AdSense publishers are required to adhere to the webmaster quality guidelines posted at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html

Previously the URL references was:

So Google has definitely broadened the scope of the webmaster guidelines that all publishers must conform to all the guidelines (such as the technical ones) and not just quality guidelines. Really no surprise here, though.

Site and Ad Behavior
A new bullet point has been added to this one:

Publishers using online advertising to drive traffic to pages showing Google ads must comply with the spirit of Google's Landing Page Quality Guidelines. For instance, if you advertise for sites participating in the AdSense program, the advertising should not be deceptive to users.

An interesting decision to just link to the AdWords landing page quality guidelines, I am not sure why they just didn't create new guidelines just for AdSense publishers. But again, for the majority of publishers, no changes or real surprises here, although some of the, um, less-than-quality publishers could run afoul with this change.

These new quality guidelines, however, are more hand in hand with the June 1st crackdown we saw on arbitrage and "Made for AdSense" sites, particularly now that they reference the new landing page quality score on the AdWords side of things... and that they don't specify just AdWords traffic sources, but that all your online advertising practices that drive traffic to your site must also adhere to the AdWords quality score.

The Inside AdSense blog also comments on this quality issue:

We're now requiring AdSense publishers to comply with the spirit of our Page Quality Guidelines. If you're an AdWords advertiser, you might already be familiar with these guidelines, which are intended to provide a better experience for users, advertisers, and publishers alike. If you use any kind of online advertising, know that these guidelines encourage publishers to, among other things, create sites with simple navigation and substantial, useful content.

This new policy requirement doesn't mean that you can't use online advertising; it simply means that if you do, you need to be sure that the way you advertise meets with the guidelines, whether it's through AdWords or through any other advertising program. However you advertise your site, it can always benefit from significant and relevant content, clear navigation, and the other points in our quality guidelines.

So this definitely clarifies that these guidelines refer to all advertising, not just those driving traffic via AdWords. It is interesting to note that publishers who advertise are required to comply with these rules as per the AdSense terms/policies, yet on the actual quality guidelines, it seems to be more of a suggestion to help improve quality score - rather than hard and fast rules to follow.

Ad Placement
Google added the following:

Up to three link units may also be placed on each page.

This means that publishers are not limited to just a single ad unit, they now can have up to three, so you can now have a link unit in the footer as well as in the navigation.

So really, there were only two major changes, the first that won't likely affect many quality publishers, while the other will be good news to publishers who find that link units convert very well on their sites.

That's all folks!

Posted by Jenstar at June 5, 2007 11:42 AM


Does anybody else think that Google should have carried out their June 1st publisher purge a bit differently? Especially in light of today's update to the program policies which speaks directly to the actions they took.

This is the way I would have rather seen it go down. At the beginning of May, Google makes it plainly clear and openly published that there will be updates to the Adsense Program Policies that will go into effect June 1. Let the publishers know what those changes will be (exactly) and clearly state that any accounts in violation of those updated policies will be handled appropriately at that point. At that point, say in June after the new policies have been officially released, any violating accounts will be disabled, given a first notice, or whatever they decide.

The way they have instead done things has been feels non-customer friendly for those affected who were enrolled in the Adsense program. It's like they have retroactively enforced a rule that didn't even exist at the time of enforcement.

Does anyone else feel that Google has side-swiped users here (and yes, I consider Adsense publishers to be users, too)?

Posted by: Jonathan at June 5, 2007 01:23 PM

You have really good information on your site. I will be back to visit and see what more you have to say.
I am only just starting out but please stop by mine and let me know what you think. Ideas for improvement would be most appreciated.

Posted by: Gerri at June 5, 2007 04:59 PM

I agree with Jonathan that this June 1 thing has been executed very badly by the Google AdSense team.

Hundreds of webmasters are now resentful towards Google for felt injustice done. Some of these are very savvy internet people. Google will meet these webmasters again online and that they will hold a grudge towards Google for this. This negative energy and the general lost trust created by this outweighs the limited short term gains. AdSense could have actually gotten these webmasters onboard with them on this change had they only done it in a slightly different way, with much the same result for AdSense.

Google AdSense has failed to look inward on this whole issue, they have accepted no blame themselves. They put the blame on a segment of webmasters. Then they admit their programs failings by making these post June 1. program changes, and more will come. The basic problems persist and this entire problem complex will therefore arise again very soon.

The basic problem is with the Click Through Rate (CTR) based pricing model. A high CTR gives a better price. A professional webmaster will always be able to get a much much higher CTR than “regular” high-paying naïve regular company advertisers. This is the discrepancy that arbitrageurs were exploiting. This basic underlying problem has not been solved.

I also honestly think Jensense has let down not only these webmasters, but let down all her readers by not looking more into it and taking a stand one way or the other on what happened on June 1. For who is next on the Google AdSense Team’s hit list? No one will know until it strikes them. As it looks you may not expect Jensense to look into it for you when it happens.

Posted by: June12007 at June 6, 2007 09:34 AM

i'm still thinking how google controls us all and how could they know this or that site/ webmaster is not following the guidelines? :)

Posted by: Affuan at June 6, 2007 11:59 PM

I think your last paragraph came a bit too strongly. I don't know what happened on June 1, but isn't it unreasonable to blame Jensense as well? I mean she's already constantly on the lookup for questions of interest and update webmasters through this blog. She's not really oblidged to do anything for anyone, since we don't pay her.

Posted by: Low Hang Wei at June 7, 2007 02:45 AM

One thing is a bit confusing to me: are we allowed to put (up to) 3 ad units and 3 link units (total 6) on one page now?

That seems a bit much.

Posted by: Adam Senour at June 9, 2007 10:52 AM