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The Southern Spam Conundrum

[ Edited ]
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 1
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hello Community, I was wondering if anyone has shared an experience similar to my own and if so, were you able to find a solution to the problem?

Here's the story. I run websites for a medium sized computer repair company which performs physical and virtual repairs. The company HQ is in California and it has 3 stores in 3 different states. There's a shop in California (separate from HQ), a shop in Texas, and a shop in Florida.

I am the webmaster for this company and each store has it's own website, except all 3 websites are built on the exact same framework. It's basically a cookie cutter website with different location information per each store.

I have also been running AdWords campaigns for the shops using a separate account for each under my MCC. All the campaigns are almost entirely identical to each other in respect to every setting, ad, and configuration.

I was getting basically identical results with all 3 accounts since I started in August and they were performing fairly well. When October came around, 2 of my accounts were suddenly inundated with spam leads. The spam leads were obvious ones that filled out my forms like this. Name: daodj Email: awpodm@tempemail.net...

The interesting part is that 1 account has been completely safe from the spam even though it was set up exactly like the other 2. They were all even targeting very similar locations because as mentioned above, the company can perform repairs through a remote access.

I created a log of spam IPs from my DB and found out of 250 spam leads, 250 were unique. So I'm guessing there is a VPN being used or they have dynamic ip addresses. When I saw this, I figured it would be pointless to blacklist all 250 even with wildcards since it seems the spam can just use a new one.

In conclusion, I'm at a loss. Because 2 out of 3 of my identically created AdWords accounts are being massacred by spam, I can't quite understand how to stop it.

If anyone can provide insight on this issue, I would greatly appreciate it.

3 Expert replyverified_user

The Southern Spam Conundrum

[ Edited ]
Top Contributor
# 2
Top Contributor

Hi @MP S,

 

Unfortunately I need to warn you that the configuration of your advertising activities seems to be in violation of Google's double serving policy, at least as per your description. Please make sure you comply with appropriate rules as detailed here:

 

***   Abusing the ad network   ***

https://support.google.com/adwordspolicy/answer/6020954?hl=en

 

I'd note that if you put an end to geographic overlapping of your location targeting settings and join the 3 accounts into one, you'll be considered compliant.

 

Finally, those who spam your website are probably committing a crime and their behavior cannot be handled by means of your AdWords expertise since when they are doing so they are already on your website. 1 account has been completely safe from the spam though that account accrued impressions and clicks just like the other 2; which makes me think chances are the spammers did not come to your website via clicking random AdWords ads of yours.

 

Best,

Lakatos

The Southern Spam Conundrum

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 3
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi @Lakatos,

 

I appreciate your reply. I also appreciate the policy link you sent. I was trying to keep my original post short so it did seem like I was using bad practices. 

 

What I meant by identical sites and accounts was the following. My sites are all built on the same framework using the same custom theme. Each site does have original content specific to the shop it belongs to. So my California site has "Our Team" page with the folks at that store and the Texas site has their own page and so forth. Although they offer the same services, there are unique testimonials, photos, and even blog posts from the people at each shop.

 

As for the accounts, I set the campaigns to be the same for consistency. So for example I have a Display campaign for CA, TX, and FL each. The ads have different images, different text for each store location. I've been running my ads since August and haven't had any trouble with policy infractions to date.

 

But here's the issue. For CA I target the states in the western region. For TX I target the central region. For FL I target the eastern region. However we do have a fairly large client base from Chicago, IL because of customer loyalty since the company originated from there. So although each shop has it's own region, they all do overlap on one point in IL. 

 

What I don't understand is how CA is safe while TX and FL are spammed (with a large source of spam coming from IL specifically).

 

The last point is that the spam is coming specifically from AdWords as the form submissions are from landing pages only accessible by clicking on an ad. I tied unique ad IDs into the forms so I know for a fact that they are coming through AdWords links.

 

I hope this better explains the situation for anyone else reading.

The Southern Spam Conundrum

Top Contributor
# 4
Top Contributor

Hi @MP S,

 

I am glad Lakatos provided that info and you understand that part of AdWords. 

 

With that said, you will need to contact AdWords Support and get their help with your issue. They can not only help you, but save any other businesses encountering such activity. They can also verify that it is spam abuse of the AdWords system and not an harvested link that is/was passed around between spam lists. It is vary likely a harvested link that spambots are filling out. Do you use any anti-bot measures on your forms (Re-Captcha)?   

 

Kind Regards,

 

James

____________________________________________________________
Google My Business & Google AdWords Top Contributor
Google Partner | GYBO Agency | Local Guide | My Profile


 


 


 

The Southern Spam Conundrum

Top Contributor
# 5
Top Contributor

Check to see if the spam is originating from the same keyword or ad placement (if you are using display ads). If so, it is easy enough to just pause that keyword or exclude that placement.

 

The Southern Spam Conundrum

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 6
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi @James_Clemens,

 

Thanks for your reply and advice. I may have to contact support to see if it's a problem they can help me with then.

 

I strongly believe the spam is abuse of the AdWords system because I have created multiple landing pages that could never have been cached before I moved them from my development server to production. Even after creating a new batch of completely different landing pages, CA was still somehow safe and TX and FL were struck within 4 days of making the new landings live.

 

I also do use Re-Captcha and 11 (real number) other anti-bot measures on my forms ranging from regex name checking to hidden fields that check for input values. I've even tried forms in modals and iframes and they're still getting through. It's a headache to say the least.

The Southern Spam Conundrum

Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭
# 7
Visitor ✭ ✭ ✭

Hi @RobSkelton,

 

I'll look into the ad placements since all the spam is coming from my Display campaigns. Although I do create new ads every 2 weeks and pause the old ones, so I'm not sure how much that will help.

The Southern Spam Conundrum

Top Contributor
# 8
Top Contributor

Hi @MP S,

 

You are very welcome. We are here to assist and can relate to the frustration as advertisers and agency owners ourselves. You should certainly reach out to AdWords Support, since they want to stop the behavior for you. Ultimately, this type of abuse hurts the system, brings performance issues for you, and is costing you more money than it should. They can also access your account(s) and credit money back to you and help to identify other actions to benefit you. We, here in this community, cannot do any of that for you. 

 

Please do let us know what happens with this and if we can help further with anything. 

 

Kind Regards,

 

James

____________________________________________________________
Google My Business & Google AdWords Top Contributor
Google Partner | GYBO Agency | Local Guide | My Profile


 


 


 

The Southern Spam Conundrum

Top Contributor
# 9
Top Contributor

Hi @MP S,

 

I was glad to see how the story developed above. I fully agree with @James_Clemens and @RobSkelton in that you should turn to CS with this type of abuse. A Display Campaign of mine fell victim to heavy abuse around May 2014 and it was fully settled by Google later on, true it took a few weeks.

 

Best,

Lakatos