Lately, we’ve been writing quite a bit about the Google Content Network. This is simply because there is so much to talk about! Today, I would like to touch on another topic within this theme: two reasons why your Content Network performance may suddenly tank.

First, let’s do a quick review of what we’ve discussed thus far:

  1. The initial article on this topic discussed what to do when your Content Network performance goes haywire (as in suddenly spikes).
  2. We provided some tips on how to trim the fat from your Content distribution in order to increase your conversion rate and decrease your cost-per-lead.
  3. We discussed how separating Search and Content within AdWords is essential to optimizing your performance.
  4. Most recently, we explored the sensitivity of ad position on the Content Network.

I was recently analyzing a client’s performance when I discovered that our performance has decreased on the Content Network for certain ad groups. To diagnose the problem I checked a few “standard” items:

  • Ad text: I had not made any significant ad text changes recently that would cause my performance to fluctuate (for better or worse).
  • Landing page: No changes to my landing pages were made recently.
  • Keywords: My account structure had not shifted and I had not added any additional keywords or negative keywords.
  • Ad position: My overall average ad position had not changed very much (not enough to negatively affect my performance greatly).

To dig deeper, I ran a placement performance report. I compared my previous 2 week performance to my current 2 week performance. When I completed my analysis I found two websites there were 2 websites that had completely dropped off my distribution.

The gradual decline in volume

For one site, it was a gradual decline which indicates that perhaps a new competitor or two had entered the space and were pushing my ad position down. My overall ad position (at the ad group level) had not changed greatly but for this one site, it had gone down. Solution: Increase bids.

When volume drops off a cliff (never to return)

The second site was a much more unique reason. Historically, this site has generated great results for my client. One of my competitors was advertising on this site as well. They too probably had great results and they decided to outright buy the entire site.

I went to the site and saw that a few changes had been made since the acquisition but they were still displaying AdSense ads. However, I noticed a couple things. First, my clients ads were not appearing on the site any longer. Two, none of my competitors’ ads were showing either. Three, the ads that were on the site were very poorly targeted and not relevant for the content of the site.

I am certain that when my competitor bought the site they utilized the Competitive Ad Filter within AdSense. This tool provides the functionality to block specific ads from appearing on a website’s pages. The competitive ad filter works by blocking ads that link to specific URLs. In summary: our ads are now being blocked!

Solution: Find ways to make up for this lost site. I highly doubt that my competitor will start allowing our ads to run again just because they are feeling nice. So, I decided that I need to dig in and find new ways to increase volume.

These are two reasons why your traffic can suddenly drop on the Google Content Network. Unfortunately, one of these reasons doesn’t have a great solution. But at least now you’ll know what to look for if your volume suddenly tanks!