As you may have heard, Google has announced new restrictions which they will be rolling out this June to advertisers of financial services products. In short, companies running Google ads for binary options, cryptocurrencies and other dubious financial instruments will have their campaigns shut down. While I won’t give my $0.02 on whether this was a purely ethical move, I do think it may ultimately do the opposite of its stated goal, to improve the search experience for Google users.
How so? Well, I’ve noticed 2 defining characteristics of the online financial services industry.
1 – They attract some of the world’s top digital marketing and growth-hacking talent. Whether it’s SEO managers, PPC analysts, display media buyers, retention managers or others, these companies tend to get some of the smartest, most experienced people in the industry working for them. The simple explanation is that they have lots of money to throw at these people, more so than most other companies, mainly because they live and die by their ability to execute on their digital marketing.
2- They know how to survive. Online financial services companies, especially those operating in gray spaces like binary options and cryptocurrency trading, have had to overcome many waves of potentially devastating setbacks. Whether it’s having Facebook suspend their ads, Google penalize their organic rankings or financial regulators try to shut them down, somehow they manage to overcome challenges that would otherwise decimate most other industries. They simply adapt, adjust and do whatever it takes to persevere.
As such, once these companies have their Google AdWords accounts suspended, they are not likely to just throw in the towel. They will double down on other marketing channels, i.e. SEO and display ads on SEO based publishers. They will allocate their considerable resources, including their super-talented marketers, to developing these channels. This means tons of black-hat link building for their sites and purchasing lots of banner ads on web publishers. The publishers will enjoy increased demand for their ad inventories and will not only raise the prices for these banner ads but will also invest even more in SEO so that they too can capture more traffic.
All-in-all, the finance vertical will become flooded with black-hat SEO spam in the form of massive amounts of content and links created for the sole purpose of helping these sites capture as much traffic as possible from Google, as quickly as possible. If you know anything about this industry, you know that white-hat SEO in the form of content marketing and slow, organic link acquisition is not in their DNA. They will embark on an aggressive game of cat and mouse with Google’s spam team.
The bottom line is that while blocking many of these shady companies from advertising on Google may improve search ads on the one hand, it will very likely damage organic results for the entire financial services category on the other.
So, while the powers that be at Google may have had good intentions in making this move, they will probably get more than they bargained for in trying to take on this industry.