Google Search Network Include Low Quality Websites

If you advertise in Google Adwords, you may not know that Google Search Network can include websites you did not expect to be associated with

August 7, 2008

I make and Sell Software for Living

As a developer and publisher of software, I have for a few years now been using Google Adwords to run campaigns for my software. While the complexity of creating and optimizing successful campaigns with Google Adwords increases the more time you spend with it, I have always had a good amount of trust in Google. However, what I have found has given me a little doubt in my heart.

Low Quality Websites in Search Network

I came by a blog post by Marketing Shift which shows that the Google Search Network encompasses a lot of websites, and not just websites and search engines of high quality. Indeed, looking at the Google Search Partners website, at least I get the impression that websites in the search network are search related. As pointed out in the blog post, the search network also contains websites that have little to do with search, an important distinction when it comes to setting initial bids. However, that is not really what makes my heart jump...

Websites in Search Network Costing you Money

While above is bad enough, it's the fact that websites such as GameCopyWorld are part of the search network. At least that is my conclusion as I have had an ad show while I had content network disabled. I believe the website is using Google Search Box / Adsense for Search. Yes, I do not develop games so why do I care? Well, the before-mentioned website may have many buying-willing users which simply are searching for a way to get paid games to work... But I have a strong suspicion that there exist many more websites in the Google search network without any significant amount of users willing to pay for software.

Let me list a few reasons why I think this is bad from an advertiser perspective:
  • People on websites that promote and distributes solutions to circumvent copy protection solutions most likely not do not have a high user percentage share that are willing to buy software.
  • The search network is enabled as default. If you decide to keep it on, you are forced to bid the same on all search network partner websites as you bid for searches on Google search engine itself.
  • You can not opt out of individual websites in search network. Yes, you can opt out of websites in content network, but not the search network.
  • Google does not share a complete list of search partners.

Alternatives to Google Search Network

I personally have disabled advertising on search network. I rather focus my time and money on campaigns where I can control as much as possible. Here are some alternatives that I am currently doing or considering:
  • Advertise on Google search engine itself. Easy, transparent, and high quality clicks.
  • Advertise on Google Content Network. Using tight adgroups combined with site exclusion and huge number of negative keywords makes this doable.
  • Advertise directly on other search networks. One competing paid search advertising solution is Microsoft Ads.

I wrote this blog post since I know how hard most shareware, indie game, and software developers have to work. Whether big companies or mom-and-dad software operations, we are all not just competing against each other, but also against a high amount of software piracy and copying. I much rather spend money advertising on websites that are clearly relevant and not associated with something that compromises the success of my own business.
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Microsys develops desktop software, mobile apps and websites.We also offer various services for other related areas including SEO optimization.
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As one of the lead developers, his hands have touched most of the code in the software from Microsys. If you email any questions, chances are that he will be the one answering.
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