Italian Google ads SEO equal than SEO

Dear Google, why do you want me to hate you?

I am a patient man. More than 10 years in the television industry made me so, and the last 8 in the Internet marketing one reinforced that facet of my character.

But sometimes something happen that really piss me off, and then I get infuriated and I am lucky I work at home, if not I would be really hard to stand for my co-workers.

Today it happened that something and it is your fault, Google.

I was working when in my Twitter stream I saw a curious tweet by Ani Lopez, a great Spanish SEO living and working in Vancouver. His tweet was referring to a strange Adwords Ad by Google promoting Adwords itself. The ad says this (translation is mine): “Forget about SEO. To be visible in Google today, try Adwords”.

The ad is published when you search “SEO” in

Fraud Google Ads

I am used to see Google advertising its products via Google. A classic is the ad that is published when you do a site search and which is promoting the use of Google Webmaster Tools. That is a consistent ad, related somehow to the search done; therefore acceptable. But this one? I don’t think so, dear Google.

The Search is about SEO, search engine optimization, organic search results… what ever you mean with the word SEO, but it is not about PPC.

If I am not wrong, one of the Adwords Guidelines is to not publish misleading ads, and I believe that your ad is misleading. If someone is searching for SEO, he is probably looking for informations about what does SEO means, what companies do SEO in Spain (being the search done in or if there are Guides about SEO.

And this is not just the only ad. If I search for “Posicionamiento Web” or “Posicionamiento en buscadores (which are the same as saying “Search Engine Optimization” in Spanish”), and you will see Adwords promoting itself again with an ad saying this:

Your site in the SERPs – Receive the help of an Expert and put your site in Google. Call us!

I mean… someone is looking for information about SEO and you, Google, are saying to him to call you in order to have his site in the SERPs? If it was me promoting myself under SEO and finally selling Adwords, I would be considered a con-man (or directly a shit man).

Italian Google ads SEO equal than SEOBut the most incredible ad is this one I see in doing a search with “SEO” (again, translation is mine).

SEO with Google – – Put your TV and Print Campaign side by side with your Adwords Campaigns!


I searched for SEO and your ad:

  1. is pointing me to a landing page about Adwords;
  2. is talking about Adwords explicitly
  3. is saying that SEO is the same as saying Adwords
Isn’t that a monumental cheating?
If Adwords is doing that, how can you blame that there are so called SEOs cheating their clients selling SEO services that are not so? You are their best example!
[box type=”warning”]

UPDATE – 12-09-2011

It seems that the “bus meeting” between Matt Cutts and his colleague finally gave results. In fact, right now both the ad “Forget SEO…” in and “SEO with Google…” in do not show anymore. Yes, Google is still promoting AdWords when people search “SEO”, but the copy of ads cannot be considered anymore misleading or against the SEO discipline, and – honestly – I believe that the ads now showing up can be accepted. I will be checking if things won’t come back as before, but I am confident enough that Google won’t make again such a silliness. [/box]

93 thoughts on “Dear Google, why do you want me to hate you?”

  1. Haha i am not surprised. Google is business and will think about its interest first. Adwords is the biggest revenue source for Google. If given the chance Google may redirect a user straight to the landing page of Adwords program for any search query related to SEO. I think we should stop treating Google like a not for profit organisation. Once we will do this, we will have nothing much to complain about 🙂

    1. Yes, you are right Himanshu. We should treat them like any other paid business. But this time they crossed the line. If you want to earn money then why showing those 8 to 7 organic results also, remove them also. We’ve other search engines too.

      1. we really don’t have other search engines and that is the main problem here. once its monopoly is over it will start following good business practices. Till then all we can do is, tolerate.

    2. I notice that this ad is no longer up. Isn’t it possible that someone who is a bit misinformed about how to do their job did this in the Google Espanol unit and maybe that’s why they took it down?

      1. I don’t think so, honestly. I know well the Spanish AdWords team, as I did also PPC in my past… and they are not so naive to make mistakes like that for being newbie.

    3. Doesn’t shock me. Google is in it for the money all the way around. And since adwords makes Google a lot of money then they will do whatever it takes. I wonder when Google will follow Google’s own rules? :0 I was glad to see the update and the ad no longer runs..

  2. Thats pretty lame from Google. I too several times found out their ads but never find something like this. Thanks to Ani for pointing out.

    We need answer on this from Google. They themselves cheating & distracting users from SEO then why are they providing those long PDFs, why they are showing us videos from their people. They should stop it.

    Really, as long as we don’t want to hate them, they somehow forcing us to be their hater.

    Good Post, Sir.

  3. Maybe SEO is not dead, but Google is trying to kill it, for sure, and this ads you are talking about in this post are the proof that for Google, nowdays, the most important factor to be visible in their “product” is to PAY!

    As we say in Italy (you should know), senza soldi non si cantano messe…

  4. Wow. How much more misleading can you get? It’s starting to feel like Google is ignoring the natural supply and demand for PPC, and starting to force demand by using FUD against those looking for SEO services, or take our data away (i.e., SSL) to make us less effective.

    It’s shameful when a company stops trying to help their customers and starts taking advantage of them. Great post, Gianluca. I’m as livid as you are.

  5. Thanks Gianluca for your kind words.
    Besides they are dismissing #SEO and cheating in their favor (what else!) as you clearly explained, the guy writing the ad copy is an ignorant: ‘Olvidate’ is incorrect, it is ‘Olvídate’ acute accent on ‘í’.

    1. Unless they’re speaking in “vos” like some South Americans. ;P

      But no, you’re probably right. Google Translate ftl?

      Also, Google’s outright audacity is staggering. Classic “do as I say not as I do” going on here… Seriously, forget SEO?

      I’m… man, now I’m angry.

  6. Well, I guess you could take out an ad or optimize a page that says “Why waste your money on Google Ad Words? Hire an SEO!”

    Well… Looks like I have a new blog to write.

  7. I understand business, I believe in attracting new business and I believe in marketing ones tools, but I think this is perhaps not the most, hmmm, tactical move by Google. SEOs support Google more than anyone, we praise Google, we tell people about Google’s power and we work on Google’s algorithms every minute of our lives, to now hear that they’re effectively giving us the finger is just not cool.

    I’d love to ask Google why, but we’d probably get “not provided” as the response, hrmmf.

    1. My biggest problems is that the description below the ad says “Learn more about SEO…”, which is deceptive to somebody exploring search engine optimization. I’m sure a novice could relate adwords quality scores to SEO, but nonetheless it seems like keyword stuffing to me.

  8. I think you are a bit off on your assessment of this ad.
    Think of the purpose of both SEO and PPC advertising via Google AdWords from the consumer viewpoint. Both create an opportunity for your product or company to appear within the Google Search results page for the keyword that customer types in.
    This ad is in no way misleading. It says, right or wrong, to forget SEO and instead use the alternate method to appear on the search results page. I am totally against their messaging but calling this misleading is itself misleading and an easy way to get people riled up.
    Google is a business there is no doubt in that. By advertising on this keyword they are attempting to gain incremental customers that would have been using their free service (organic listings) to use their money making service (pay-per-click advertising) instead.
    Just an alternate viewpoint to throw out there.

    1. You are right… competitive advertising is something that exists. But… is it possible for an SEO to publish an ad in Google, which gets published for the keyword “AdWords” saying: “Forget about AdWords. Contact us and your site will reach the first page in the organic searches”. I suspect that that ad would be not approved because violating the Google Adwords Editorial Guidelines…

  9. This was inevitable IMO… SEO as far as getting paid by clients often meant a client was paying us instead of Google to extract value for them from Google. How many client pitches incorporated the fact that they didn’t have to pay Google? I know a few of mine did. This is those chickens coming home to roost.

    I can see why people are incensed but it’s nothing personal, it’s Google’s data doing what its calculations said to do. And we’re all equipped to weather this one and thrive in the midst of it too. 99% of our skills are nicely applicable to this brave new world too.

  10. Sooner or later, Google was going to show its cards. We (SEOs) didn’t want to believe it, we used to look around and, finally, it has crashed into our face.
    Bad move Google, bad move.

    1. The reality is that those kind of ads are around since a long time… but was that copy that made say: “ok, now stop it”.
      But I must say I am surprised none noticed them before or did not start ranting daily against them.

  11. The second and even more hilarious thing happening to me this morning after I discovered Google cheating (via a @seosweb tweet, by the way): I received an email from a company asking me to manage their Adwords campaigns! (something I have no idea how to do, I’m a 100% SEO +Analytics guy)

    As we say in Spain “God squeezes your neck but not till the point of choking” 😀

  12. I’m “almost glad” to read this article, criticizing Google’s practice. It’s not because it’s google that they’re perfect. This ad on adwords is the top of the mountain!
    I’m still a beginner in the Internet marketing/SEO industry but I understand the basics and the black hat and things not to do when it comes to it…
    Thanks for the article.

  13. I’m not surprised to see that, who wrote the Ad just forgot to say that 70% of total clicks from search results go to organic searches 🙂 according to study result.So if you only do Adwords you are missing out.
    The ad really should have said how much you can benefit by doing SEO combined with a good Adwords strategy.

  14. The google ad shows because of the Semantic 😉

    I have the same problem in my PPC campaigns, I have 10x more negatives than actual keywords.

    Still shocked about the ad copy….

  15. The best part about it is that Bing is growing, and if Google continues to pull this kind of shit (excuse my language), they’re going to pay for it. Google is built on search, and from the moment they start losing their grip on it, you might see other internal implications as well. Now it’s time for Bing to step up & make it as SEO friendly as possible, by doing something like creating a public site explorer (Yahoo went down, so now its their time to come in).

  16. Excuse me for pointing out the obvious: Google competes against us in their own marketplace. I’m surprised none of you thought they would. I have seen this long time ago, but did not even give it a second thought. They are doing what anyone in their shoes would do.

    They compete. It’s by the way not especially misleading to compete for those terms. They ARE optimizing a client’s chance of reaching to the top of their search results. For Pete’s sake – they even put your AdWords ad above the organic results. How much higher in the results can you get? Above the monitor?

    1. I too see these since a long time. And usually don’t care. But when I see an ad like the italian one say “SEO with Google” and it is about Adwords… well, that I cannot accept it, sorry.
      But, maybe I’m an idealistic.

  17. Totally, outrageously, mind-boggling-ly, not surprising….

    Thanks for pointing this out. Any response from big G?

      1. Funny, both because it is probably true (he probably doesn’t as he has so many SEO pals), and because it is of no consequence (I’m confident that’s not the last of those ads).

  18. This is nuts! I mean, I remember the video in which Mr. Cutts said that SEO is really important for Google because it helps Google to have good SERPs…and then this!

    I saw the answer Mr. Cutts gave to you on twitter, but at the same time I think Google is pushing a lot its commercial way of being a search engine. And it’s totally normal, but I agree with who said (I don’t remember who was it) that Google should think to separate the two things: search engine as it is, with no interference by its commercial interests, and the commercial part, with all the products and services.

    thanks for sharing!

  19. So many SEOs have no business understanding they simply cannot understand marketing or advrrtising.

    Organic Results = Expense

    Adwords = Revenues

    What is more important boys & girls?

    Which would you advertise??

    1. Apart that I disagree with what you say, as it is a very miopic vision of Seo (as it finally is the marketing online tactic, which the highest revenues and ROI), I think you miss the point of my rant: I am not against Google advertising its own properties on Google itself with AdWords, I am against any ads that announce something pretending to be another thing. Google should not say “SEO with Google” and then send the end users to a landing page about AdWords, as it was the same as organic search. That is, as far I am a rational man, cheating and publishing an ad irrelevant respect the purpose of the search, which is against its own guidelines (or am I wrong?).

  20. A classic Freudian slip. This is what Google is doing, they just aren’t supposed to admit it publicly. Should leave the PR tweets to Mr. Cutts – he is is incapable of doing anything but praising the company that made him a multi-millionaire.

  21. ‘Forget about SEO?’

    For a few months now we’ve all seen some arms of Google saying one thing, and others the next. Why would they be doing X when they are doing Y? It just doesn’t make sense and continues to not make sense. But it will all become apparent very soon. Either way, we’re trying to do online with a lot less push on Google.. Troubling times..

  22. Google misleading its users? Not the first time this has happened, they own the traffic though so basically they are entitled to promote whatever the hell they want unfortunately.

  23. Hey, on the Google bus this morning I happened to see someone who might be able to help with this. I showed her this post and she’s going to look into it. For what it’s worth, I don’t think the intent was to badmouth SEO, but in my (personal) opinion it would be better to change or drop these ads so we don’t inadvertently send the wrong message.

    Google’s position remains the same: there’s lots of great whitehat SEOs out there who help businesses learn how to improve their sites for users and search engines.

    1. Thanks Sr. Cutts, there are no ‘error free’ companies (in the end we are humans, not bots) but the will to solve issues when they happen.

      Buon Natale! Gialuca
      Feliz Navidad!
      Happy holidays everybody!

    2. Your intent is to fill the page with paid ads forcing everyone to pay, everything else is lies. Words don’t matter, actions do.

      1. Approved because I believe in freedom, but I do not agree with your comment and, I repeat, do not confuse the the search quality team with AdWords and don’t assume that Matt is the same as saying Google.

      1. Again, approved in the name of the free expression… but – honestly do not agree. Anyway, when doing this kind of statement a link to the source would be always highly appreciated.
        If not, they are just words.

    3. It seems to be a classic case of departments not talking to each other. Either way an entire community that has effectively endorsed, been a secondary adjunct to Google in terms of product, reach and earnings is continuously being alienated.

  24. I have been thinking for a long time whether Google could actually run an SEO company based upon SEO for search engines and whether it would be ethical? Some SEO companies have multiple clients in the same sector – is that ethical SEO? Infact I am writing an extended Blog on it for a few weeks now…

  25. Just listening to dan zarrella talk about seo – a massive % of people trust natural search over paid search – I guess google would not like to hear that….

    Although it’s now gone all controversial :-/

    1. Thanks for your comment, but I do not totally agree with you here.
      When we think at Google, we cannot think to it as a small start up company, where just a bunch of people decide everything.
      I sincerely believe that the Search dpt is not against SEOs, meaning as SEOs those ones who don’t cheat the system. And I believe that they know well how essential is organic search also for the economic benefit of Google itself, because people go to Google to search and 80% of them click on the organic results… and come back to Google more and more because of that.
      Here the supreme silliness is from the AdWords area of Google, which myopically use stupid ads just for the sake of instant profit…

  26. that’s the cheesiest and lowest thing Google could ever do… they deserve to have their search engine down for ‘a month’ and so lose market share to Bing or other SE… yes, fair enough Matt C. has intervened to calm the waters but how dare they to offer Adwords as an alternative to SEO?! outrageous!

    1. Do you know? If the ad was saying something as “Complement your SEO with Google AdWords… I would have probably considered ok, because – why not? – we can integrate both in a marketing campaign and an SEO can have useful information about the users behavior from AdWords, but that copy…

  27. *puts on tinfoil hat*
    Is Google running the whole Natural Search hocuspocus nowadays merely to sell Adwords around it? Look at the great majority of commercially relevant SERPs and try to convince me of the opposite. There is only one front page in Natural Search, only one top 3 ..and that’s where the big brands and companies with massive SEO budgets are. What can you do as a small/medium business that doesn’t comfortably sits in a tiny niche market? Optimise your site ..and run a PPC campaign. You can see that this arrogant PPC behaviour flaged up above now suddenly is a big internal thing for Google, otherwise Matt Cutts wouldn’t have raised a finger. Head of Webspam? More and more Head of PR & Reputation Management ..and distributor of cool aid.
    *takes off tinfoil hat*

  28. Didn’t understand this, why everyone claiming Google as a a Week Product??? Showing Ad for their own product is not a good sign but they have all rights.

  29. Whilst I think it’s really cool of Matt to have addressed it and sorted it out. The fact that it was done in the first place re-enforces my suspicions on Goolges’ motives with the whole “Not Provided” issue. Trying to take business from SEO’s and instead push it into Adwords that overtly with those Ads, doesn’t speak well for Google’s defence on the Analytics issue, that it’s not their reasoning or motive.

  30. Each country usually has a Google Country Consultant that works on promoting Google services in that country. Sometimes they may have a team of people. Sometimes it is just one person as the Google Country Consultant. Sometimes there is a separate Google office in some countries. In this specific example, I think it is the local Google team trying to sell Google products and it is mainly the fault of these local teams.

  31. “I think Google views the situation more risky than it really is … So they operate from a perspective of fear.” – Rand Fishkin when asked about how Google see SEO companies –

    So this is how fearful Google is, when it comes with SEO’s? Geez…HA!

    1. Honestly I did not controlled every regional Google. Surely that was a common policies. I suggest you to contact via Twitter Matt Cutts citing this post and your discovery 🙂

  32. Surprisingly, those site owners who do count their money won’t so easily give up organic SEO for Google Adwords. For example, one of my customers working in a highly competitive field made all the necessary calculations and came to the conclusion that organic SEO saves him half the budget he would pay for a Google Adwords campaign. L

  33. It seems odd that they would take this obvious approach. Of course they are going to know that people are going to talk. Seems like their voucher strategy is not working there, they are not selling enough advertising or they have a naughty Adwords professional… Well found.

  34. Google really needs to looks at its own policies and should follow it, they do everything to promote their own stuff no matter right way or wrong such as like button in youtube being replaced with +1 only to raise their g+ accounts bt that won’t mater unless they find good content Facebook is going far better in terms with that..!

  35. The Google response would be “it is a relevant advert word” EG someone searching for SEO means ads about SEO are relevant

    The old saying “absolute power corrupts absolutely” in perhaps it’s purest of forms

    Nice find and heads up Gianluca 🙂

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