Google AdWords Bans Price Comparison Sites

(Google announced this in September. But I missed it, so I imagine others may have too.)


Google don’t ban competitors outright on AdWords. Instead, Google hike AdWords bids to make advertising untenable. Ten dollars per click to you, sir – and don’t forget to meet those vague (ergo unattainable) Quality Score factors!

The latest victims are price comparison sites and travel aggregators. Both are now unwelcome as AdWords advertisers. A statement on the Google AdWords blog reads:

The following types of websites are likely to merit low landing page quality scores and may be difficult to advertise affordably. In addition, it’s important for advertisers of these types of websites to adhere to our landing page quality guidelines regarding unique content.

  • eBook sites that show frequent ads
  • ‘Get rich quick’ sites
  • Comparison shopping sites
  • Travel aggregators
  • Affiliates that don’t comply with our affiliate guidelines

(Via SEObook)

If you are wondering why Google list travel aggregators and price comparison sites next to get rick quick scams, there are two answers:

1. Google runs a mediocre price comparison site.

2. Google has already taken baby steps in the travel vertical with a travel Onebox.

Graywolf nailed it last month:

Why don’t you just come out and say listen we’re going to charge you whatever we want to, and there’s nothing you can do except pay it. At least I’d respect you for not lying to me.

[Full post]

Did anyone say abuse of monopoly power?



  1. Oliver says

    A very interesting development – good post.

    Regular affiliates have no chance with the ridiculous cost per clicks but I noticed that a few larger comparison sites are still advertising on AdWords (ran a search for Sony KDL-26T3000 and got Pricerunner, Ciao ads etc.). They’re decent sized companies – have they negtotiated a deal maybe? Or maybe it’s a loss leader with branding in mind?

    Either way it’s a worrying trend – who’s Google going to pick on next?!

  2. YLGP says

    Could you perhaps have written an entry without such an obvious bias towards Adwords users? Google’s policies on adwords are reflective, not affective. Price comparison sites are one of the biggest bugbears people report when using the search engine.

    And they’re not ‘lying to [you]’ – in plain english, they’ve said they will probably be difficult to use affordably. What I would give for all service providers to advise me if their model would make it difficult to make a profit. Most of the time we find out the hard way!

    Personally, I think Google Products is actually one of the best sites for price comparison, probably because it charges no commission so is written with a focus on relevance AND price – the rest stick to cost alone. This is why big name companies like Direct Line have openly refrained from being listed on these sites, because blindly comparing apples and pears just leads to everything else that matters going down the drain. Then those same customers are the first to complain when they get poor customer service.

    The bottom line is relevance. The vast majority of price comparison sites piggyback on keyword like “review” “specifications” and others, when they make little or no effort to build a reviewing community. For as long as a search for almost any product on Google returns eight pages of the same category of site, when only a handful are relevant (at a push), I welcome anything which disincentivises these people from advertising.

  3. says

    This has really shattered online price comparison sites in markets like Australia where they used Adwords to generate traffic and then onsell that traffic to retailers. This was though creating a middlemen between retailers and Google and obviously Google didn’t like this practice. The idea is perhaps to motivate small advertisers to go directly to Google instead of paying comparison sites.

  4. says

    Google says that their ‘quality score’ is a dynamic variable meaning it’s an algorithm which responds to a lot of data such as keyword density but also, I suspect, it may measure the amount of time a visitor spends on your landing page. Therefore they may get a user-determined measure of ‘relevance’ and usefulness? Geoff D.

  5. Richard Kershaw says

    @Geoff: I’ll if QS does start ot take into account factors like how long a user spends on page.

    As for dynamic, I fear that’s spin rather than reality. Last time I got a domain burned on AdWords, Google told me not to expect anything to change if I overhauled the site.

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