As an experienced affiliate marketer, I often get asked whether it is possible to do affiliate marketing with Google Ads. Many assume it is against Google’s policies or not effective. In reality, Google Ads can be a powerful platform for affiliates if done correctly. In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share insider tips on succeeding with affiliate promotions on Google Ads based on my extensive experience.
However, Google has strict policies around what can and cannot be advertised. So affiliate marketers need to approach Google Ads carefully to avoid account suspensions. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to successfully running affiliate campaigns on Google Ads.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
For those new to affiliate marketing, it is an advertising model where brands reward partners for generating leads and sales of their products. As an affiliate, you promote offers and earn a commission when referred users complete a desired action, like a purchase.
Affiliates generally promote offers through content sites, email lists, social media, YouTube, and other channels. Additionally, for those who are interested, Top affiliate networks include CJ, ShareASale, Impact.com, and individual merchant programs where you can signup and select brands to promote.
I’ve been an active affiliate marketer for over 6 years and have experience driving traffic from multiple sources including Google Ads. When done right, it can be one of the most lucrative channels.
Some key elements of affiliate marketing:
- Affiliates promote offers from third-party merchants, not their own products.
- Compensation is based on completed sales or actions, not clicks or impressions.
- Affiliates can join affiliate networks like ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, or individual merchant programs.
- Top affiliate channels include blogs, YouTube, coupon sites, product review sites, and more.
Can You Do Affiliate Marketing with Google Ads?
The short answer is yes, you can do affiliate marketing with Google ads. I know it sounds contrary to popular beliefs but there are hundreds of websites that are using Google ads to promote affiliate products on their websites. Many assume otherwise because Google has stricter policies than other paid traffic sources.
But with the right approach, you can successfully run affiliate promotions on Google Ads without getting banned.
Here are some key points on what’s allowed:
- You can’t directly link Google Ads to merchant sites. Must use owned domain properties.
- Trademarked terms are usually prohibited – check advertiser rules.
- Disclose affiliate relationships clearly. Don’t misrepresent ownership of products.
- Avoid bridge pages that solely redirect visitors offsite. Provide real value.
The key is ensuring your account, ads, and landing pages align with all Google policies. You also need to follow the rules of your specific affiliate programs. If done right, Google Ads can deliver targeted, high-converting traffic.
Real-life Example of Using Google Ads for Affiliate Marketing
Let me give you a quick real-life example of how you can use Google Ads for affiliate marketing.
“Let’s assume you are an affiliate marketer for a company that sells Lawn Equipment. First of all, you will need to do some keyword research and find relevant keywords to create content. Let’s say you have found the following keyword; “best electric weed eater“, “best electric string trimmer”, etc. Now write a blog or create a webpage that includes products relevant to the search query and add your affiliate links for those products.
Once done with that, now it is time to create a Google ads campaign. Create a Google Ads campaign that targets people who are searching for terms that you have identified earlier through keyword research.
Your ads will appear at the top of the search results page and will include a link to the web page or the blog that you have created. When someone clicks on your ad, they will be taken to your website where they can read the information about electric weed eaters and then go to the main company website to purchase a mattress.”
Keep in mind that this is just a simple example. You will need to review the affiliate program policies and make sure there are no restrictions on using Google Ads. Also, please do not use the exact brand keywords in Google Ads, that’s the shortcut to getting your account banned.
Why Use Google Ads for Affiliate Offers?
There are several advantages to using Google Ads for promoting affiliate offers compared to other ad platforms:
- Massive reach – Over 90% market share of search ads
- High buyer intent – Users actively searching for products/services
- Advanced targeting – Demographics, interests, locations, etc.
- Flexible budget – Works for any size affiliate program
- Efficient optimization – Real-time performance data
However, the platform does have strict rules and limitations compared to native advertising and social media ads. Navigating these policies successfully is key to affiliate marketing on Google Ads.
How to Set Up Google Ads Affiliate Campaigns
Step 1 – Select Verticals and Offers
Avoid restricted or “vice” industries – gambling, pharmaceuticals, adult content, etc. Stick to mainstream offers related to common interests and buyer keywords. Check advertiser policies on where affiliates can run ads.
Step 2 – Build a High-Quality Affiliate Site
Create an active website or blog with extensive, original content about your niche and recommended products/services. This establishes trust and authority. Ensure the site provides real value versus just affiliate links.
Step 3 – Insert Relevant Affiliate Links
Naturally weave contextual affiliate links into related blog posts and resource pages. Clear disclosure near links stating affiliate relationship is mandatory. Never rely on links alone.
Step 4 – Create and Verify Google Ads Account
Sign up for an account, add a payment method, and get verified by Google to remove restrictions. Ensure the account name doesn’t mislead users about the offer origin.
Step 5 – Set Up Ads and Landing Pages
Write strong text ads focused on visitor intent versus direct product pitches. Develop dedicated landing pages with deep, helpful content around keywords and offers. Include affiliate links.
Step 6 – Research and Bid on Related Keywords
Use Google Keyword Planner and competitor research to find profitable, low-competition keywords to target. Avoid trademarked terms. Start bids low and increase slowly as needed.
Step 7 – Monitor Metrics and Optimize
Review performance data daily – clicks, conversions, cost per acquisition (CPA), return on ad spend (ROAS), etc. Refine targeting, bids, ads, and landing pages to improve results.
Step 8 – Remarket Engaged Visitors
Create remarketing campaigns and ads to re-engage visitors who previously clicked affiliate links or spent time on the site. Remind them of offers, deals, and content they showed interest in.
Step 9 – Expand Top Converting Campaigns
Put extra budget into best-performing campaigns, keywords, and ads. Expand into new related keywords and interests over time. Pause poor performers to conserve the budget.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Here are some key mistakes that can get accounts suspended when doing affiliate marketing on Google:
- Bidding on trademarked brand keywords
- Linking directly to merchant sites versus owned domains
- Deceptive language about ownership of offers/products
- Bridge pages that solely redirect visitors offsite
- Affiliate links with redirects or tracking instead of direct
- Promoting heavily restricted categories like pharmaceuticals
Ensuring your account, ads, and landing pages comply with all Google policies is crucial to long-term success.
Optimizing Affiliate Campaigns on Google Ads
Like all digital marketing, continual optimization and improvement are vital to make Google Ads profitable for affiliate promotions. Here are key areas to focus on optimizing.
Landing Page Experience
The quality and relevance of landing pages significantly impact ad performance. Ensure pages align closely to ad text and keywords. Include ample unique content, not just affiliate links. Make key info and links easy to find. Improve page speed and navigation if needed.
Ad Copy Refinement
Test different ad headlines, descriptions, and call-to-action text to identify what generates the most clicks at the lowest CPC. Focus copy on visitor intent and use emotional triggers like curiosity, urgency, etc. Make ads stand out while following policies.
Actively modify keyword bids to balance traffic volume with conversion rates. Increase bids on profit-driving keywords, and reduce low-performing ones. Use auto-bidding strategies like ROAS or CPA targeting once sufficient conversion data exists.
Layer on demographic, interest, and remarketing audiences to laser target likely converters. Test different segments against each other. Curate custom affinity audiences of your best customers.
Day Parting Optimization
Analyze performance by day of week and time of day. Many searches show weekly or hourly patterns. Increase bids during peak conversion times, and reduce during low periods to save budget.
Add location, call, lead form, and other ad extensions to display more information, offers, and calls to action. Can improve CTR and conversion rates when relevant.
Mobile represents over 50% of Google Ads traffic. Therefore, ensure ads and landing pages are fully optimized for mobile users. Use responsive design, limit text, and highlight call-to-action buttons.
Pros and Cons of Google Ads Affiliate Marketing
Using Google Ads as part of an affiliate marketing strategy has both advantages and disadvantages to consider:
Benefits of Affiliate Marketing with Google Ads
- Massive scale – billions of daily searches
- High buyer intent compared to other channels
- Advanced targeting options beyond other platforms
- SEM expertise translates well to Google Ads
- Obtain quality scores and lower CPCs over time
- Conversions and leads attributed to keywords
The Downside of Using Google Ads for Affiliate Marketing
- Very high competition on popular keywords
- Account suspension risks require caution
- Some verticals prohibited from advertising
- Must invest in landing pages and ad copy testing
- Inventory limits can constrain scaling
- High management effort for ongoing optimization
When approached diligently, Google Ads affiliate campaigns can become profitable. But the platform requires strict compliance and constant refinement for the best results.
Google Ads offers huge potential reach for affiliate marketers to drive targeted traffic that converts into sales and commissions. However, affiliates must carefully follow Google’s policies, avoid restricted categories, and prevent account suspension risks. Investing in high-quality landing pages and robust account optimization is key to long-term success.
Used strategically as part of a larger affiliate marketing plan, Google Ads can help scale promising offers and maximize ROI. But restraint and vigilance are required to keep accounts running smoothly. With the right diligence, creativity, and effort, Google Ads can become an invaluable traffic source for affiliate promotions.