Are you Unwittingly Paying Google to Advertise on Porn sites?

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For seven years, Lawyerist has published an annual list of the best law firm websites. Now, you can find out what they have in common.

Guest post by Kelly Spradley.

Google AdWords recommends that new advertisers use Google’s automatic placement of ads in content. It is a poor recommendation. It means that Google will select the websites on which your ad will be shown. The problem is that Google spiders are selecting the websites, not humans.

One lawyer found that he was unwittingly paying to advertise on a porn site, southmouth.net, and a spam site, lawsack.com. Google thought these were legitimate sites on which the lawyer should advertise.

Southmouth’s page title (now altered) is “Attorneys: Lawyers: Asbestos: Criminal Defense: Settlements.” It sounds like a good place for a lawyer to advertise. An actual visit to the site reveals sexually explicit images, which are not seen by the Google spiders.

Lawsack’s page title is “Lawyer articles, personal injury lawyer articles, Criminal lawyer articles, Business lawyer articles, Corporate lawyer articles.” It sounds like a legitimate site, and it actually contains articles. The articles have been pirated from ezinearticles. It is not a reputable site.

Obviously, the lawyer would not have chosen to place his ads on these websites. Appearing on these sites could damage his reputation, and any clicks he received would not be from qualified leads.

Fortunately, it is easy to change the settings in AdWords, and avoid illegitimate sites. Here’s how:

  1. Within Google AdWords, choose the “Campaigns” tab.
  2. Select the campaign from the left.
  3. Choose the “Settings” tab.
  4. Find “Networks, devices, and extensions.”
  5. For Networks select “Edit,” and then “Let me choose.”
  6. Either uncheck “content network” OR choose “relevant pages only on the placements I manage.”
  7. If you choose to manage placements, you can select websites on the Networks tab.

If you originally chose “All Available Sites” for the Networks setting, you might want to find out where you have been advertising. Simply go to the Networks tab, and view the domains (website addresses) under “Content: automatic placements.” If you are unfamiliar with a domain name, visit the website and check it out. Hopefully, you haven’t paid for too many clicks from spam sites.

In conclusion, Google AdWords is a powerful marketing tool. It just needs to be used properly in order to get a maximum return on investment. Settings need to be adjusted in order to avoid advertising on illegitimate websites. Set up your own content placements and you’ll be set.

(photo: Abiola_Lapite)

Kelly Spradley is the vice president of marketing and sales at Impirus.

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  • Gyi Tsakalakis

    Great post. In addition to using managed placements, make sure you install conversion tracking code, use dedicated phone numbers, and build a negative keyword list. If you don’t measure what adwords is producing for you, it can quickly become a money pit.

  • Trees

    One of our developers had initially used Adsense and found a competitor’s ad was running on one of our sites. Ouch!

    Ditto on the negative keywords! We learned that “barely” was a necessary negative keyword in relation to legal video. As in “barely legal video.” Oh my.