In 2009 and 2011, I had the displeasure of getting my Adwords account suspended twice. The cause each time, by their own “automated message” was that my website was flagged for being a “bridge page”. Upon further investigating it, I learned what this was, why Google didn’t like it and that even in the SEO world, having this type of page may negatively influence my rankings.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about this subject and I before I get into too many details, I will say there is a right and wrong way to approach the topic of bridge pages, and I will explain that in this article. But first:
Just what exactly is a bridge page anyway?
Well the best way to describe is this:
Google values in both the SEO and PPC world high value websites that offer great content, that’s core knowledge to anyone who understands how to get high rankings in Google and low costs for ads in adwords.
Great content means people who read it, enjoy it, stick around, share it, comment on it and do things that indicate their interest in being on it and usually there is a lot of content, we’re talking 1,000’s of words.
A bridge page however is generally a type of website where great content is generally not written up and it’s main goal is to get visitors over to another site, and that is generally one that sells them things.
When the term “bridge page” is used, the context is usually not that good. It indicates a cheap type of website where the owner doesn’t care about offering value to their visitors as much as they care about getting them over to another site where they can buy stuff and give that same website owner commissions.
In short: Money is valued over content.
And this generally goes against that same core principal that Google has set, so when they assume your website is a bridge page, it can hinder your SEO rankings, and if you’re doing PPC (through adwords), the ramifications are even worse (suspension) and it is not a situation you ever want to be in with them because if they suspend you over this, you won’t be able to get it undone, unless you are lucky enough to convince the Adwords staff that you’re innocent and that is a RARITY, trust me, I’ve tried and so have many with probably a less than 1% success rate.
How does Google actually know your page is guilty of this?
Well there’s a bunch of algorithm presets in place to notice it, but in my experience, here are the clues they look for on websites that end up being labelled as bridge pages:
For SEO: If your page is LITTERED with affiliate links and the type of content that generally gets little attention (low stay time on the website), little content overall, spam like content, and a high click through to get to another website, it may be flagged for this.
Review sites are generally most guilty of this and I see it quite often. There’s people who make their websites in a way where they do nothing but review products and focus too much on promoting it, and not enough attention to giving their page value. Their website is nothing more than a detour to affiliate links and like I said before, there is a “cheapness” to it.
For PPC: Generally (and this is my personal experience and opinion), if you have affiliate links on your website, forget about trying to do an adwords campaign. In my personal experience, no matter how high quality it is, it will still be given that bad label and you risk getting your account suspended. With Adwords, and in my experience, there is no grey area or room for affiliate links. If you wish to succeed with Adwords, you need to promote local businesses or your own services, not affiliate programs.
Your only other option to do affiliate marketing and PPC together is in places like Bing, that still offers hope and I personally use that platform to run my PPC campaigns (with great success).