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.
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
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.
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 😉