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The Wild, Wild West of Search

Raphael Sebbag

Cowboy boots and hat with white background

Forgive the rant, but people need to know what can happen out there.

I recently visited a potential client to discuss managing their Google Ads account. What started off as a typical story of cowboy Google Ads management not giving access or any reporting to the client, evolved into a much more intricate web of deceit…

In a nutshell, the business owner employed a manager (who now no longer is works for the company) who then cancelled the existing Google Ads agency and “strategically decided” to give the account to a mate of his, who actually outsourced to a team outside of Australia.

The client had been using Google Ads from the same account for nearly 7 years, with substantial good will and quality score history working on its side. The new “agency” stopped all that and set up the campaign under its own account withholding any access to it by the client.

Instead of focusing on search, it directed a majority of the funds to display with a nearly doubling in acquisition costs.

After analysing their analytics, because that’s all they had access to, it was also discovered that their ads were set up in US dollars even though they focus on the Melbourne market. Given the current exchange rate, it’s a huge spike in costs that could have been avoided.

Does it sound bad enough? No longer was the traffic being directed to the clients’ very well designed and structured website. All ads were going to landing pages on the new agency’s domain BUT to specific landing pages for the client and again, the client doesn’t have access to this page.

Fortunately I was able to guide them how to access their 7 year-old account, which could be re-ignited and rebuilt to get back to where it should be, but obviously first thing first is to terminate access to any non-company users and ensure access to the Google Ads asset is fully retained by the company.

There’s going to be a need for some serious auditing of this account, but first regain control or never give it a way in the first place. To see more of what we stand for, check out some of our guiding principles.

Is there a way to rid the industry of this kind of behaviour?

We donate at least 10% of all our profits to various non-profits and charitable organisations locally and abroad aimed at improving lives for people and the the world in general.

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