Google AdWords PPC Policy Changes: Microsites

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Recent Google AdWords policy updates are shifting many aspects of how advertisers structure their marketing strategies.  For most advertisers, the recent Pay Per Click Policy changes wont effect them at all.  For many others however, the changes are presenting major road blocks to successfully running their campaigns.

An update that has been causing one of our clients some major headaches revolves around what Google considers “microsites”.  The goal of this policy change is to offer a more relevant and transparent experience to users clicking on Pay Per Click Adverts.  In broad terms, if a company/business has two websites they will only be able to send traffic to the one considered the “main” site.

This policy change has caused major issues for many advertisers.  Advertisers configure their websites to perform well for their Pay Per Click traffic.  They set up landing pages and include design/content that will help the PPC visitors convert at the highest rates.  With this new change, all the time & investment companies put into these “microsites” goes out the window.  Google slowly rolled out these changes and as they hit advertisers accounts, they began to see their traffic decline steadily to ZERO.  Whether you have a website designer on staff or you need to find an outside vendor there is a sudden, pressing need to redesign your Main Site to work with you PPC traffic.  For some advertisers (our client included) they have very limited ability to work on their site due to a very expensive hourly rate from their current webmaster and the fact that they are using a templated solution with major limitations on the changes that can be made.

Our client (in the legal vertical) has a website they use for a more overall presentation of their services/lawyers (call it their Firm Site) and another that is catered more directly to the consumer (Consumer Site).  The later presents information that consumers may need in regards to Product/Drug Recalls and Breaking News.  As far as our client is concerned, the two websites serve completely different functions and cater to different users.

The client is running a Pay Per Click account sending traffic to the Consumer Site with a hope anyone interested in Product/Drug Recalls will find this site useful.  Their Firm Site is not configured to convert the traffic coming through PPC and does not offer nearly enough information to give a quality User Experience to PPC visitors.  To make things worse, the client began a site redesign of the Consumer site before they found out about the policy updates and are too far into the redesign to turn around.  They are now stuck trying to work with an overpriced vendor for their Firm Site who puts major limitations on the changes they allow them to make.  Moving forward they have two options.  Invest additional time/resources to redesign the Firm Site or for the most part stop running PPC Campaigns (which is responsible for a large percentage of the leads/inquiries they take in.  We are sure that many other companies are facing the same dilemma.

The overall goal of this particular policy change (and Google’s overall goal) is, at it’s core, designed to offer a higher quality, more transparent User Experience.  And we applaud Google for continually striving in all aspects to meet that goal.  However, if you consider that advertisers, especially those in the legal vertical, spend upwards of 100K/month or more on PPC (not including the website investment), we feel there should be a more “Human Eye” as well as a more case by case approach to the implementation of some of Google’s policies.

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