Google is cracking down on multiple industries they have deemed "Illegitimate." This guy isn't the only one BTW…

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Below is a comment I got on the blog today. It’s from Scott Phares, who is being told that Google considers the industry he’s in to be illegitimate. He’s not the first, believe me. Nor will he be the last.

He’s in MLM. Those of you who know me know I’m no big fan of MLM. But that is totally irrelevant to the subject at hand. I have seen the same thing in totally unrelated industries, things that have nothing to do with affiliate marketing or business opportunities.

Where Google makes a sweeping judgment and sweeps a bunch of advertisers away. Businesses are suddenly DOA.

“Yep, you are right. Google definitely tightened the screws … already. I found out the hard way yesterday. All my PPC ads were disapproved or their Quality Score went so low they won’t ever display. I called an 800 number I have for Google and spoke with one of their adwords reps.

Google no longer considers network marketing, affiliate marketing and MLM businesses as “valid” businesses. As a result, they have disallowed all ads forwarding to affiliate links/sites, bridge pages that then forward to an affiliate site, and any site that contains or mirrors all or portions of a parent company site. Even my ads for my own personal biz site landing page and home business web sites went down.

They did not disapprove them, but they immediately lowered my Quality Score (from GREAT to POOR) so low that the ads never display. The adwords rep. also told me that to get my Quality Score back up, Google would have me increase my bid so high that it would kill my ROI completely. To all – be prepared, you may not see this happen until you edit an existing ad or create a new ad, then Goggle will review all your campaigns, that’s when all your MLM, home business and affiliate ads will drop.

I moved all mine to Yahoo last night until we all can come up with a solution to this. This is going to shut down every ad anyone has running on Google as an affiliate where you have registered a domain and have it forwarded to your affiliate links/sites. I am looking forward to your call on Monday at noon CST, hopefully you will have some suggestions as to a solution.”

What is "80" and what is "20" for your business right now? Take my 2-minute quiz and I'll show you where you'll get the highest compound interest on your time and money!

I recognize that there are some areas that generate lots of complaints, and Google is trying to provide a quality user experience. However this is NOT a trend any advertiser should be feeling good about. First it’s anyone Google thinks is an affiliate… then it’s an MLM guy… then it’s someone who sells a hair growth formula… then it’s YOU.

If you’re saying to yourself, “Well I’m in a legitimate business, this could never happen to me,” think again. By whose definition of legitimate?

Sleep with one eye open.

And don’t go down without a fight.

And don’t let Google be your only means of getting new customers.

And somebody please, tell Yahoo and MSN to get their friggin’ act together. A mutual fund company that USED TO OWN $500 million of Yahoo stock couldn’t get them to wake up, 3 years ago. But… maybe somebody else can.

If Google’s the only game in town, then Google is Big Brother.

Perry Marshall

P.S.: Surely you’ve heard versions of the following quote – it applies here:

“They came for the Jews and I did not react because I was not a Jew. Then they came for the trade unions and I did not react because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the communists and I did not react because I was not a communist. Then they came for the social democrats and I did not react because I was not social democrat. Then they came for me and there was nobody left to defend me.”

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About the Author

Perry Marshall has launched two revolutions in sales and marketing. In Pay-Per-Click advertising, he pioneered best practices and wrote the world's best selling book on Google advertising. And he's driven the 80/20 Principle deeper than any other author, creating a new movement in business.

He is referenced across the Internet and by Harvard Business Review, The New York Times, INC and Forbes Magazine.

36 Comments on “Google is cracking down on multiple industries they have deemed "Illegitimate." This guy isn't the only one BTW…”

  1. A client of mine was recently told me to check why his Adwords ad was approved and from the looks of it. Looks like Google “deemed” his site not appropriate. Its not a fully MLM site, but it’s more like MLM.

    I just told him to focus on other channels.

  2. I’ve noticed the yellow box with a message stating the links below where advertisements.
    My mother was scammed out of $200 for “MSN tech support” when she only searched how to change an MSN password.
    The illegit company told her that her account was broken into. She wasn’t paying attention and actually let the fake tech support rep gain access to her computer.
    He said she would have to make a new account (hotmail- not MSN).
    After paying $200, giving them remote access to her computer, making her come up with a new email address, she also let them know her new hotmail account’s password.
    Needless to say, we corrected the mistake after she called me crying that she lost all of her old emails, contact’s email addresses, photos, etc. I drove to her house and corrected the problems. She was refunded the money, regained access to her original MSN account (with a new password) and stopped using the hotmail account they created for her. I need to add that they also “helped create the new account when she said she wasn’t sure what to use as a new email address” by recommending that she use an old family name such as her mother or father’s last name (which was her maiden name- a common question asked to help gain access to many accounts, aside from just email).
    So it was a mess that she’ll be battling for a long time. Think about it. Using a common question like the school you graduated from or your mother’s maiden name, your maiden name are almost always asked in order to regain access to an account. I’m praying that her banks and credit card companies don’t use these common questions but I couldn’t walk her through every account she’s ever created (such as Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Facebook and other accounts that store her personal and financial information).
    She is old but not elderly and defiantly NOT stupid.
    I blame Google for hiding the fact that this company merely paid some money to move
    Them move to the top of every search result.

  3. Great post – agree with David too,
    people that usually dislike mlm, network marketing
    are the people who usually haven’t had any success with it, or they have had bad experience with people doing it.

    ….as for – you can’t make money, what a pile of horseshit, i met a guy few week’s ago at an event in atlanta that was making $700,000 per month in PURE RESIDUAL income, i think there is scope to make money in mlm/network marketing

    Shaq

  4. Definitely news that is sure to make a lot of network marketers quake in their boots. However, this is where blogging comes into play. More and more people need to blog to see some great SEO.

  5. Absolutely horrendous for hard-working affiliates! I agree with comments that Google has to keep the quality of its ads up to attract the click in the first place, but to do something overnight that will create masses of work or destroy a small business overnight smacks of arrogance in the extreme. Whatever happened to their “do no evil” mantra? (Or does that not apply to the SME businesses out there?)

    But all the same, it keeps us on our toes…
    Good luck if you’re one of the afflicted. And long live blogs!

    Gill Clark

  6. The reason Amway has been so strict is simple:

    Protection of trademarks and copyrighted intellectual property for one.

    Compliance with FTC regulations and other legal requirements for two.

    Third: The business was to be built by building personal relationships with your own people (distributors and
    customers) and building business through that.

    The internet has spawned an attitude that you can put up a page or site and get ridiculously rich with zero effort.

    I enjoy seeing people having to work for a living. :-)

    The trouble with most MLMs is they’re bordering on scams themselves. I was on a “call” one night with one of those biz-in-a-box deals for several thousand dollars. The person responsible used only her first name. What they were pushing would likely land them in trouble with every state attorney general in the country.

    Amway and a few others run a clean shop. It’s the scams that tarnish their reputations combined with the stupidity of some of the people who get involved.

    Here’s some real MLM:

    Company X manufactures a product. They recruit a factory rep to sell the product to a master distributor who sells it to a lower-level/volume distributor who sells it to the retailer or local mechanic or (whatever), who sells it to John Q. Consumer.

    Commissions paid by Amway (and presumably some others, but not all) are based on a 30% gross margin for the retailer, 25% for wholesalers/distributors, plus an allowance for factory reps. Those numbers match what I saw in retail while I was in college and had a store.

    Now, big box retailers sell something for $10 that they pay the manufacturer $20 for, and it’s from China. That’s instead of the 30% or so in the US back in the 1970s.

    Things change. Get used to it.

    Google’s a private company. They can do any cotton pickin’ thing they want.
    And anyone who builds a business based on what they do right now is asking for trouble every time they change things.

    You’d do the same if you were the one selling ads, so no whinin’.

  7. David Frey hit the nail on the head. He should know as he is the top recruiter in his network marketing business.

    The bottom line is this, until MSN and Yahoo! get their acts together, you have to balance your PPC marketing with SEO, Affiliates and other forms of traffic.

    Jarrod Morris

  8. The good the bad and the ugly all over again. This happens to be a case I agree with although I am an avid supporter of Buy at your own risk. Really if it sounds to good to be true it is.

    Should Google become the Internet Police? Maybe not they are the librarian not the FBI.

    Should the Scammers be stopped? Absolutely, we live in one of the most unprecedented economic upheavals of all time due partly to sinister financial dealings. The last thing broke people need is the chance for redemption from a damn Black Widow.

  9. While I respect Jim Yaghi greatly, some of your statements about MLM are sweeping generalizations and therefore, make them untrue.

    For instance, “That’s why the leaders in the industry are not making 100% of their income from their opportunity.” UNTRUE

    Or, “Network Marketing and Affiliate programs…are not designed for people who want to make big bucks.” UNTRUE

    It’s true that SOME leaders in the industry are not making 100% of their income from their opportunity.

    However, I can point to multiple MLM leaders that ARE INDEED making 100% of their money from network marketing.

    And to say that MLM systems are not designed for people who want to make big bucks, I disagree. That’s exactly what they are designed to do.

    But like ANY business, only the most talented and hardest workers rise to the top. It’s no different in the network marketing world. The most talented and hardest workers will always rise to the top and make the most money.

    It always make me chuckle when internet marketers talk down about network marketing while they herald affiliate marketing.

    Affiliate marketing is just a simple form of multi-level marketing. No more, no less.

    Now as some of you who know me, know that I do have an internet business (several internet businesses) that are natural lead generators for a network marketing business that I run. It serves me well. But it’s not a duplicateable system for the masses.

    Back to the issue at hand.

    It alarms me that Google has grown to such a dominating position that it can materially harm entire industries with a change in policy.

    But I do applaud them for understanding who their customers are (searchers) and taking bold risks to ensure that their customers have the best experience possible.

    Thanks for making us aware of this Perry.

    David Frey

  10. You ever tried to use Yahoo’s pathetic “Search Marketing program”? It’s laughable. Clunky as. And it takes them forever to approve your keywords and takes them forever to reply to your emails. And when they do it’s no help whatsoever. But they are very quick to take money out of your account – you can’t fault them on that. No wonder Google has 64.1% of the Search market as against Yahoo’s paltry 16.1%.

  11. Once again I totally agree with Jim and Perry.

    From what I can tell Jim, you’ve been anticipating this for a while as well… nothing stands still–the industry of Internet network marketing will continue to mature until it becomes a breeding ground for business system owners (not system users). I think it’s become this already!

    Network marketers have social skills and a ‘business / leadership’ mindset that no other group can claim… because the network marketing industry has been teaching these fundamentals.

    And because network marketers are trained to be social (while Internet marketers resist this), networkers are poised to dominate in the new ‘social’ internet. All that’s left for the individual to win big is to break out of the illusion that they can make big money using a cookie cutter system and into the reality that you have to create value and be the system owner yourself.

    And note, just because Dillard, Jim Yaghi, myself, Ann Sieg (and other system owners) give cookie cutter templates for others to plug into does NOT mean we don’t advocate becoming a system owner yourself. Everyone has to start somewhere and for some that’s the best place to start. But the Internet is always changing, such as with the new Google changes… and those who are just using systems will need to change with it as much as anyone else.

    Mike Klingler

  12. What Perry’s saying is absolutely true.

    Network Marketing and Affiliate programs are both systems. Systems have their place, but they’re not designed for people who want to make big bucks.

    A true business should be owned and controlled by you.

    That’s why the leaders in the industry are not making 100% of their income from their opportunity. Each and every top earner’s real product is themselves and their expertise.

    They sell their training.

    They sell their knowledge.

    They sell their business building tools.

    They sell their systems.

    While the sale of the parent company’s product or opportunity is a mere consequence of the remainder of their business.

    Jim Yaghi

  13. Dan,

    At the risk of offending some, I have to tell you a piece of my story here.

    When I was in Amway, both pre- and post- Internet, I had the same problem. Any advertising other than strictly sanctioned boilerplate stuff was forbidden.

    Of course it’s perfectly understandable why MLM companies police what distributors are doing. They have little choice. But a noose is still a noose.

    I eventually realized that if I’m in a business where some corporate office dictates how and what I advertise, then I don’t own the business, they do.

    So therefore when I told a prospect that I was offering him an opportunity to “be free” and “own your own business”, it wasn’t really true. Practically speaking, I didn’t have legal title to anything. Neither would he, if he signed up.

    Being that it’s easier than ever to source a product from a million different places – or create one yourself – I decided it’s better to have your own product.

    Why spend your time and effort trying to educate some marketing manager at some corporation about why he needs to be more competitive? Build your own business, not his. Build something that YOU own.

    That’s the path I’ve taken and it’s what I have advocated ever since.

    Perry Marshall

  14. Well, some MLM companies don’t give you the option of creating your own unique landing page. So if you’re using Google to advertise you’re forced to direct people to a page that is just one of thousands sitting on that company’s main website.

    This is a deficiency at the company’s end, not the salesperson who is working for the MLM person as an affiliate.

    A while back I found some really great alternative health products sold by a very reputable (Yes, such a thing exists!) MLM company. Since I and my family had good results with them, I asked the sales rep I was working with if I could sell the product online since I publish my own websites. She said yes, but when I got further into it she didn’t understand that signing up for a page at the company’s website and directing my sales to that preapproved page wasn’t the same as being a true affiliate who provides their own, unique reviews, graphics, text, etc. That’s what I wanted to do, and that’s what the MLM company disallowed.

    They required all their affiliates to receive a page on their main website that would be used to track all their sales. So you couldn’t direct people to a separate site or page you created. They did this in part for quality control purposes – so affiliates weren’t writing crappy or bogus reviews, making false claims about the product, etc. And this was smart of them in many respects because they are very serious about their reputation internationally and didn’t want to be sued or appear to have any dirt under their fingernails with their affiliates pulling the usually stuff with bogus review pages. (Admit it affiliates, you’ve been guilty of creating those in the past!)

    So anyway I just wanted to say that those who are serious about promoting MLM companies that don’t allow you to have your own unique landing page might want to discuss things with management at the MLM to tell them how affiliate marketing is evolving online and how they will be left out of the picture, unable to exploit the marketing power of their online affiliates, due to these recent Google changes. From my experience even the advanced sales managers at MLM’s don’t always understand what’s going on in the online environment, and they really need to if they’re going to compete.

    Dan

  15. It is a situation where Network Marketers should stop recruiting people into their MLM and plugging them in to a generic landing page that people see over and over again with someone elses name on it. It is time to start teaching newcomers to build their own unique landing pages and brand themselves.

    The people that will get hit the hardest by this google slap will be the sellers of these cookie cutter templated landing pages. If they don’t change things they will lose monthly subscribers that can’t use adwords anymore.

    Let’s start focusing on teaching people how to purchase their own domains and build their own landing pages. People unwilling to learn new skills probably should not be working from home in the first place.

  16. What exactly is a “data entry affiliate programs”. I can’t find it by googling (forbidden knowledge??)

  17. Am I one of the few that understand why Google has done what they have done. If a person clicks through to the same landing page with 3 different ads they are not going to be impressed.

    I have just started out in PPC with PPC Domination and have been caught by this but with a couple of hours yesterday found just how easy it is to create your own landing page. I have also written a free report for people to get and the whole thing took me less than 5 hours and that was the first time I did it. At least I am providing real value to my potential leads now and for how much work realy?

    The only people who are put off by Googles startegy of banning generic landing pages are the ones who believe they will get a free ride in network marketing and not have to work for a living.

    Sophie Hardy

  18. Bill Keller @ 12:07 pm

    I read a recent article by another marketer who claims that Yahoo is much friendlier to advertisers than Google, and he claims their PPC’s are cheaper for higher positions on the page. I’ve never used Yahoo, but I guess they have the same type of PPC system as Google. Do you have any experience with Yahoo?

    Yahoo seems to do really well for CPA and affiliate programs. Some say MSN is even better.

    I use Yahoo (not MSN) and it brings me some mmm…meh-leads…it’s not a lot cheaper than adwords for me and the traffic is a LOT less. It contributes about 1500 leads a month to my marketing. Google gives me on average 3,500.

    I’d say add Yahoo to the mix!

    Jim

  19. I read a recent article by another marketer who claims that Yahoo is much friendlier to advertisers than Google, and he claims their PPC’s are cheaper for higher positions on the page. I’ve never used Yahoo, but I guess they have the same type of PPC system as Google. Do you have any experience with Yahoo?

  20. I am quitting at the end of the month to become an internet marketer full time. This is scaring the bejeepers out of me.

    I hope to hear some good advice from Jim and Perry.

  21. Great article, thanks for the heads-up. As one great marketing guru (with the initials DK) says, “1 of anything is a bad number” …meaning solely relying on a single advertising channel to base your entire business around, is very dangerous.

    I like to advertise in print, with postcards, and via jv/aff email promos; and have cut my adwords spend down by 80% plus in 2008 due to click fraud and escalating click costs (top 1-3 positions for my keywords had cost $2-$3/click back in mid 2000s, now they’re nearly triple that, so the ROI isn’t there anymore).

    Exploring print ads, postcard ads and other multichannel ad campaign strategies is important, and not just relying on one search engine for your entire business.

    -ken c

  22. Yep, I agree with Jim and Perry…

    This is an opportunity–just build your own lead capture pages and/or create a lead capture page (that is optimized through split testing, etc) that is within a domain name you have been building content into.

    Quality scores are based on whether or not Google deems your site valuable. The more you try to truly provide value rather than short cut the system, the easier it is for you to dominate PPC or SEO.

    Partners in success!
    Mike Klingler

  23. This is an old debate. I’ve checked with Google staff personally and they denied that they don’t consider affiliate or mlm as legitimate businesses.

    The policy for adwords STILL permits affiliates as can be seen in
    http://adwords.google.com/support/bin/static.py?page=guidelines.cs&topic=9271&subtopic=9280

    Is it getting harder to run affiliate ads without building out landing pages and websites? Umm…yeah!

    But this just means you have to become what Perry calls a “Value Added” affiliate, instead of just a traffic broker.

    jim

  24. I don’t think that bashing Google will lead us anywhere.

    After all, it’s their website and they can allow to advertise who they wish.

    We just have to wake up from our dream that Google is some neutral service which is there for us reliably. It’s not. It’s a private website of a business.

    If they think that it is in their best interest to disallow something, then they can do it.
    If they were wrong with their thinking, they will take a hit in their earnings and/or their overall traffic.

    If their competition does better, their competition will win.

    In the specific case that we have here, my guess is that

    * Google-cashers will move their well-optimized campaigns to Yahoo and MSN which will increase revenue of those Google-competitors.

    * Businesses who outsourced Adwords-advertising to Googlecashers will take it either inhouse or outsource it to services like Perry’s Jet Propulsion.

    * Some high-profile Google-cashers will offer services similar to Jet Propulsion for those businesses where they are the number one Googlecash affiliate. They will have an easy opportunity to sell their services because they have real numbers to proove their capability.

    * Affiliates with their own landing pages will create their own front-end products and will move their affiliate link to their auto-responder sequences and/or sales thankyou pages.

    * savvy MLMers will also create front-end products and sell their MLM opportunities in the backend. ( well if there is such a thing as a savvy MLMer… )

    So if Google stops this elimination process with eliminiating direct affiliate marketing, we may be able to adapt.

    On the other hand, if they continue with excluding other businesses, then those are really screwed if Google is their only traffic source.

    Anyways I think that it will be healthier for our economy and businesses if there will be a serious competitor for Google. Competition has this magic effect of eliminating stupidity and egotistic behavior…

    But, as it is now, Google still does a very good job. But if they continue with things like that, they may actually become vulnerable and/or somebody will say to him/herself: I can do this better. My own search engine therefore has reason to exist in the marketplace…

    After all, one major point of market economics is the power of choice. Monopolies remove choice. But Google is not a monopoly, they don’t get their power from Government but from their customers ( be it searchers or advertisers ). And each customer has a choice. Everyday.

    That’s even true for Google. And they know it. But that does not mean that they know what to do to better serve their customers.

    It may be that they actually don’t really know why their business works. ( I guess that 90% of all businesses don’t know why they actually work. They just have emerged alive among the market driven selection process… Maybe just by accident. )

  25. Aren’t affiliates the biggest driving force behind most companies online?

    Maybe those billions of dollars finally ate away the soul and last bit of common sense in Larry & Sergey!

    Google = G et Ostrasized Or Get Lashed Daily

    (One of former Google Chefs)

  26. I know all about google and their tactics. This is just another reason to hate them. First, they track everything we search for with their cookie that expires in 2038 for some reason, then they reduce our page rank score if we sell links, and now this.

    I use a middleman search engine called Scroogle that acts as a proxy between you the searcher and google that prevents Google from storing information about you when you do searches.

    Anyway, this whole Google cracking down on “Illegitimate” businesses thing is not surprising at all and I guess we’ll see what they do next.

    Google = CNN
    Microsoft = Fox News

  27. If this trend continues and if MSN and Yahoo don’t know how to get their act together, then I / we / somebody have to create our own search engine which appeals to searchers *and* advertisers.

    Could probably be done on a shoestring budget if it is executed in a way to have many people involved with providing computing power in exchange for a share of the profit. ( similar technology as the SetiAtHome project )

    The real challenge is to get it accepted by the market. It obviously cannot be advertized by PPC because Google does not allow advertising of competing search engines –> needs to be done with social marketing / viral marketing.

    I think the time will soon be ripe for such a project. Maybe it’s already.

  28. This may not be such a bad thing, although I do some affiliate marketing myself – some by way of the “classic” affiliate marketing model and some by way of posting some links to products I think will help my own clientele (in the process picking up a little commission).

    Does this apply to landing pages with some “real” content and affiliate links, or is it more about the domain which then redirects to an affiliate link?

    I have gradually come to the opinion that affiliate marketers (some of) are effectively spamming the search engines and the net overall. When some affiliate products come with prewritten “review” sites which many (hundreds if not thousands of) dopes then put up largely or completely unchanged, this does not provide a good experience for Google’s customer, and I can understand them acting against it.

    It may be that the “thin” affiliate marketers may actually have to come up with a “fat” business model which provides some actual content and value to Google’s customers before Google will let them play.

    May well mean the end of the “Google Cash”/Arbitrage-type model as well.

    Warwick Foster
    AUSTRALIA

  29. I don’t even know where to begin with this. I’m flabbergasted at the sweeping generalization being made here. I hope you have some good advice for all the affiliate marketers out here, Perry.

    Lane Reiss

  30. All comments are monitored and we will delete any that we deem inappropriate or unacceptable.

    Google does the same thing, they do what they feel is good for all.

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