This post guest-written by Steve Poland, who writes making money online ideas at his own blog.

Shoemoney’s post on ‘Spamming Through Google‘ a few months ago got me thinking about how this flaw function of Google could be exploited to game Google AdWords.

This flaw function of Google is that you can use a ‘google.com’ URL for basically any domain/webpage and it’ll act as a redirect to that domain/webpage of yours (requirement: the domain/webpage must be listed in Google’s index).

The syntax is the following (bold portion should be domain/webpage to redirect to): http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=www.stevepoland.com&btnI=

This syntax is based off Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” search button that is found on their homepage, in which a user does a keyword search and Google will take the user to a website that is the #1 website for the user’s search query. Technically, this query looks like the following, but I found that you can put any value in the ‘btnI’ parameter, and it redirects: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=www.stevepoland.com&btnI=I%27m+Feeling+Lucky (the URL in the spam that Shoemoney received had the variable ‘btnI=ec’)

So what does this mean? It means a couple of things:

1.) You can create an ad that uses ‘Google.com’ as your display and/or destination URL. You could exploit the credibility (in the eyes of the user) of “Google.com” as a display URL, which could work well for certain keywords you’re targeting. (You could use this in any PPC ad network including Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing)

2.) You can reduce the initial bid price required by Google AdWords on various keywords, because ‘google.com’ has a high quality score within Google AdWords. I did a test on this, by creating brand new AdGroups with new ad copy — “A”) ‘Google.com’ was the display and destination URLs; “B”) ‘Cleverclasp.tv’ was the display and destination URLs; “C”) ‘Cleverclasp.tv’ was the display URL and ‘Google.com’ was the destination URL.

The results were astonishing. “B” and “C” had the same pricing. For the same set of keywords and same ad copy, some keywords for “B/C” were a minimum of $10, whereas for “A” the minimum was $0.50. You can see in the chart below the cost differences.

Gaming Google AdWords with Google Redirects

After creating the AdGroup for “A” (‘google.com’ as dest/disp URLs), I then changed the destination/display URLs to ‘cleverclasp.tv’ — and the minimums were still $0.50. So this is a maneuver to (potentially) reduce your initial bid prices on AdGroups.

So what is the redirect URL for Live, Yahoo, and Ask? There are none — from what I can tell. They don’t appear to offer anything similar to Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” button. But if you can find other domains with redirect functionality and high quality scores, then you’ve found other ways to lower minimums for initial campaigns.

I’m also not sure how long you can game Google with these techniques — if there is any manual review of your ads, they may find something fishy (particularly if you’re using ‘Google.com’ as your destination or display URL permanently). I don’t believe your minimums would be different with Yahoo, Live, or Ask by using the Google redirect URL; I also don’t think your ads would make it through their manual review process, but I’d love to be proven wrong 😉

Good Luck!

By Jeremy Schoemaker

Jeremy "ShoeMoney" Schoemaker is the founder & CEO of ShoeMoney Media Group, and to date has sold 6 companies and done over 10 million in affiliate revenue. In 2013 Jeremy released his #1 International Best selling Autobiography titled "Nothing's Changed But My Change" - The ShoeMoney Story. You can read more about Jeremy on his wikipedia page here.

51 thoughts on “Gaming Google AdWords with Google Redirects”
  1. Very interesting. I would assume as this gets “out” it’ll be a short time before you can do this.

    I’m not sure i caught it, i must read it again.. the destination url is where u used the redirect or the keyword url?

  2. It seems that if the display URL is ‘google.com’, then you get the cheap minimum bids. [But if your destination URL is google, and your display URL is something else, you get the high bids]

  3. Surely if it is a redirect, then the site that you are directed to is not google, and thus that is not allowed as the display url?

    As far as I have been told, If I put google.com and then redirect it to my site that is not allowed because the display url is not even related to the site you actually land on.

  4. very interesting but i think I’ll have to read it a few more times to completely understand it. LOL

  5. Great idea. Although google will surely fix it, finding other redirects that are similar (with high quality score domains) could prove profitable. Even if google does fix it, you can get in now, and get your bids low. By the time they fix it, you’ll already have passed the good quality of the google domain to your lower quality domain, essentially making it equal to google as far as the Adwords QS is concerned.

    I wouldn’t try this on your main account if you already have profitable campaigns running.

  6. Can you really do this??? If so, i think they will fix it soon just like they did with special caracters like >> or <<.

  7. Very interresting. I read the original post from Shoe again, and basically I think the same methoed can be used to game up the relevance on a website/page refeering to one of your affiliate sites. Seems theres no use for paid links now with this possibility as Google look at the link and sees google.com and then rank it higher then most other links, at least thats what I believe, maybe Shoe can give a point of view here???

  8. That is what I was thinking. Good way to cut cost initially. I am sure people have been making money on this, and that they are now going to be a bit nerved…

  9. Not sure how this is dishonest… This is using the system to your advantage right…

  10. Exactly, it’s simply matter of using something to your advantage while you can, definitely not what one would call dishonest.

  11. Nice method!! Also everyone you should try another method as well w/ this one!

    Here is a tip for everyone, this has save my company over 20,000 in the past 3 months in adwords costs.

    Create a ad (DUH!) the let it run for about 10 min, then create another ad version, BUT create one for mobile ads. It does not matter if your site is not mobile ready.

    Then pause your regular ad version , only allowing the mobile ad version to run . Wait about 30 – 60min and check what your bids are at. They reset to 5cents and gives your great QS . Now this will work for anywhere from 30min to 3hours, but you will have to check back and repeat the steps, but u will always reset to 5cents

    (hopefully this will last for a while! im never one to give inside tips like this)

    Have fun!! Happy Savings!

  12. Nice. So if I understand good: if you display url of google, but your redirect the url to your homepage you don’t have to pay much money?

  13. This would work for about 2 days until you get a manual review or your competitor reports you – whatever happens first. Short-lived strategy that’s not worth the trouble. Plus after getting some press via this site it’s sure to be even more short-lived.

  14. I’m sure this “technique” or “hack trick” will be cut out soon. Google’s not stupid. You can’t fool them for long…

  15. Dishonest or not, I’m sure its against Google’s rules, and will fix the “flaw” very soon.

  16. Exactly.

    Why anyone would risk being banned permanently from AdWords beats me. There’s a lot more to lose than to gain.

  17. Very impressive hack, too bad Google will be all over it soon enough since its now been leaked. But I can honestly see a whole slew of new hacks coming up in the near future which increases Quality Score and reduces CPC. Thanks for giving me something to think about!

  18. Not sure if “dishonest” is the right word for this. Gaming sounds more grayhattish to me, not necessarily black.

  19. If you are going to try it, do it today…expect a crushing blow via G on this one soon!

    Great Idea though!

  20. What a waste of time …

    1) You are violating AdWords rules, as display url and destination url don’t match
    2) You could achieve the same by putting Google.com as your display url and xyz.com as the destination url
    3) Your QS “findings” are useless, as the bot follows the redirect from google.com to whatever domain you were using, so in the end the bot visited the same site twice. Min Bid differences usually fluctuate (try it, create a campaign, uploade it, note QS, delete campaign, recreate same campaign, you will get different QS’) and in both cases the bot decided that your page was shit either way
    4) Google will fuck you for infringing on their trademark

    So what have we learned? You can use different destination and display urls. Shocker. Not like this wasn’t known before.

  21. Posting things like this angers the gods. It will be interesting to see if Google traces a sudden jump in gaming tactics back to here and then rips shoes arm off to smack him with the soggy end.

  22. I think they’ll just take away the credibility score of the redirecting url. This would be the most logical move, since the site you’re redirected to is more important anyway, especially because some people use the redirecting URL for tracking purposes.

  23. I noticed this used with another technique recently in regards to local search. Doing a search for chicago search engine optimization you can see the one box in place with the 10 most “relevant” businesses, but look at SEM Visibility’s URL…

    Trying to ride on the credibility coattail.

  24. […] Step 1: Read Shoemoney’s post on how to Game Adwords with Google Redirects. […]

  25. If they weren’t already on the look out for this they sure as hell would be now. I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole.

  26. I find it interesting that for every zig there’s a zag, and the game goes on and on and on and on………..

  27. […] Gaming Google AdWords with Google Redirects […]

  28. […] Gaming Google AdWords with Google Redirects from ShoeMoney […]

  29. TaT: Gaming AdWords, SEO-Tutorial von Thomas Promny, guter Linkchecker » SEO und Domains » Blog Archive says:

    […] Shoemoney hat bereits vor einigen Tagen einen interessanten Hinweis gegeben, wie man den Quality Score von Google AdWords gamen kann. Funktioniert mit einem I Feel Lucky-Redirect, wodurch man den QS von Google.com erhält. Bin mir nicht sicher, ob der Trick noch funktioniert. […]

  30. […] 2)      AdWords – nÃ¥r QualityScore er et problem. Her er pointen blot at sænke sit minimumsbud, ved kunstigt at hæve sin qualityscore. Jeg har endnu ikke prøvet dette, da jeg er i tvivl om de juridiske konsekvenser. Dog ser dem der har brugt Steve Poland’s trick, der stor set gør det samme via Googles eget system, er sluppet godt fra det. http://www.shoemoney.com/2008/01/29/gaming-google-adwords-with-google-redirects/ […]

  31. I see all the people complaining about Google will catch this, if they haven’t already… Oh, the redirect is against policy, etc.

    I think you are missing the point. It is not that a redirect is good/bad, that it is following or not following the Google policy…

    You are missing the point. The point is that the advertising rates are a black box. The quality score is a black box.

    Look at this another way… lets imagine the super bowl. Lets say for prime ad spots during half time that there are four ads times that are sold. Spot 1 goes for 1.5 million dollars, spot 2 goes for $1.2 million, spot 3 goes for $5,000, and spot 4 goes for 1.1 million. If the other advertisers got wind of this, they’d probably be pissed. What if they found out that advert 3 was a subsidiary of the company that runs the super bowl and thus paid only a token amount. Then, as an advertiser you find out that they’ve been paying only a token amount on all their adverts across the network. The network just kept telling you that you had to pay the going rate but with the advice that if your advertisements or company was of “more quality ” you might pay slightly less. In the end, it wasn’t really about quality. There is no way that Google is a better site for cleverclasp.com than the actual web site.

    While it doesn’t affect every one, if Google is playing in your same ad space – why? They often have little content or text that describes the products that they are promoting. They are automatically assuming that they, themselves, are a quality site. It is not like they have to be “quality” and have scores that reflect well and thus outbid you for advertising. If some of your competitors use Google owned advertiser services (double click), since it is a black box anyway, who is to tell if there aren’t some sweet heart deals between Google and Doubleclick?

    If you are an SEO do you think you are really going to be able to compete with Performix in the SEO space? Hrm, let me check to see why Google isn’t ranking you as high as it should… vs. let me Q/A your site, run some A/B tests, and see if we can hit or miss, gain you a top 10 ranking….

  32. […] Gaming Google AdWords with Google Redirects – ShoeMoney®Blog Entry About Google Adwords Still Getting Owned. […]

  33. hi I am more inclined to seo google adwords, but now I am doing B to C to be closed in the powerful google,

  34. I don’t accept this particular post. Even so, I had researched in Yahoo and I’ve found out that you are right and I seemed to be thinking in the incorrect way. Keep on publishing quality articles like this.

Comments are closed.