Would Google Downgrade a Site's Ranking for Not Paying an AdWords Bill?

May 2, 2006 • 8:03 am | comments (13) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

An other WebmasterWorld thread asks Google penalizes non-payers? Basically, the thread creator has a client that decided he did not want to continue his account AdWords with Google. So to cancel, instead of calling and paying off his bill, he decided to have Google cancel the bill due to non-payment. The thread creator makes it sound like this is a common way of canceling accounts, I certainly hope not (ok back on topic).

Soon after they have lost rankings for all their keywords, outside of entering in the domain name. The speculation is that Google AdWords non-payment has triggered the organic results to change for that site. Everything we are told from Google would say that this is impossible. Google AdWords and Google Web Search results are completely independent of each other. Is this possible?

Well, forum members certainly think so. One member says, "I can see Google automating a system that throws domains into the black list when bills go unpaid after so many days. Clever." An other member said, "Not paying a bill is a pretty clear indication of black-hattery and dubious value to end users." But one member suggests to tell the client to pay the bill and then see if the organic rankings improve.

What do I think? I think that it the clients non-payment has nothing to do with his rankings drop in the organic results. I think there is something else going on.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Brook Schaaf

05/02/2006 04:17 pm

There is much speculization along these lines. The owner of a large affiliate Web site told me a couple months ago that he believes Google penalized him after he started and stopped an AdWords campaign. (His bill was paid.) His theory is that Google didn't want to give him free traffic once the company knew he had money to spend.

Neil Patel

05/02/2006 04:30 pm

I do not think that Google penalizes your website for not paying. I had a client who stopped doing PPC for a 3 month period and had a small balance with Google. His rankings did not drop, but after 3 months he started his PPC campaign again and cleared up his balance.

Todd Henley

05/02/2006 06:32 pm

Seems like a coincidence, but I wouldn't doubt at least some minor relationship between the two.

Michael Martinez

05/02/2006 07:59 pm

On the surface, this looks the usual case of SEO paranoia that so permeates WMW and a couple of other forums. The ridiculous ideas they pass around are just so unbelievable. But who knows? Maybe Google is implementing a little "Pay your bill" penalty. It would be more reasonable than the old "Either take out an adwords account or lose your rankings" nonsense that people used to pass around (and maybe still do). In case the distinction is not clear, what I mean is that the presumption that Google targets specific businesses and industries with penalties in order to pressure them into paying for ads is absolute nonsense (but it has been voiced often at WMW). On other hand, it would make good business sense for Google to penalize sites that owe them money, with the understanding they would lift the penalty once the bills are paid. People who intentionally shoot themselves in the foot really don't deserve any sympathy, though.


05/03/2006 09:47 am

Oops ... Friday my card got cancelled due to a fraud case. Monday Google complained they could not charge my card (obviously). They choose their moments ;-) It takes a while to get a new card, especially with all these May holidays in Europe. I'll keep you posted if ranking drops before I'm able to resume (although it should only take another week, max.)

No Name

04/11/2007 06:29 pm

One of my friend has left his adwords accound due payment unpayed and eventually cancelled. After few month he has lost many of his organic ranks. But he also did some unwise changes on the site which should also result rakn drop. We both wonder it is due to the changes or that unpayed balance.

No Name

11/26/2008 08:28 pm

Our website was on page one in Google search results for background search. Then the homepage completely disappeared from Google search results. A 2nd level page still showed up, but it always was a ways down the list on search results. This seemed very strange that Google unlisted the home page, but allowed a 2nd level page to remain. Finally, we discovered that we owed $1.51 to Google Adwords for a few months. Our credit card number had change and we failed to update Adwords since we were not really using the service anymore. So, we recently updated our credit info, and Google Adwords is fully paid up. I am wondering if anything good will happen to our homepage in Google search results.


07/23/2009 09:33 am

There is no doubt that this is the case.I have just investigated a client who was receiving very good organic traffic due to search engine optimisation undertaken by us. He had page one rankings for all keywords. His traffic dropped to literrally nothing. We have since discovered he has an overdue Adwords bill of several months. He refused to pay this as felt he was being ripped off and did not believe was recieving genuine clicks. There is no other explanation for the dramatic change in traffic. The account has now been paid and we are waiting to see the effects of this. Don't upset big brother - he's in the business of making money end of story!


08/11/2009 09:26 pm

My business website always appeared on the first or second page of Google. We signed on with Netbiz to try it for for 3 months, we paid in full. After 3 months went by we decided to cancel, our index page now is consistantly on the 3rd page. We did not change our site in any way. They will penalize you if you don't continue.


10/08/2010 11:01 am

We just tried out a short period of 1 week using Adwords for the first time on one of our sites. The site was ranked high for many popular searches and grows steadily by the week. After one week of using Adwords (with a very limited budget) we have seen our average search position on pages that are associated with ad keywords drop by 1-8 places (they were generally No 1 - 3 in our country) and Webmaster Tools shows a dramatic drop of 25-75% for search terms over the last week. It's impossible not to notice that all the green growth rates have now turned into red drop rates for the first time in months. The pages that are not associated with ad keywords appear unaffected. This is ridiculous! It feels like blackmail - pay us to advertise or lose your ranking! We're not mistaken either - we've looked over the stats very carefully. And to be clear, NOTHING has changed on the site technically.


10/04/2011 07:17 am

Hi. I have just noticed the same. The effects are more subtle, whereby the shift is only from #7 to #11, but it seems to happen just before the adwords account runs out. I will add fund tomorrow (5th Oct), so if you would like to check out the position of www.cleversolar.co.uk against the string 'solar panels for caravans' on google.co.uk, you should be able to see this happening. PS. I promise 100%, I bwill not be changing anything else related to that string or the landing page, etc.


11/09/2011 03:25 pm

I contacted GoogleAdwords in July regarding a charge that was deducted from my bank acct, since I didn't know why I was charged.  A Google Representative told me she was unsure as well and that I should contact my bank and dispute the charge, which I did. Two weeks ago I went into my account to turn my Adwords back on (because I had paused it) because I haven't been receiving a lot of calls and there in red it stated that my Adwords campaigns have been suspended due to non-payment.   I sent them an email and received a couple emails back in exchange and then a receive a generic email stating that my GoogleAdwords campaign was suspended due to non-payment and that I owe them money. Needless to say I paid the money because Google is not a company I want on my bad side.  After I paid them, I received another email stating sorry my Adwords acct has been suspended.  So now, I am really angry.  I paid Google and I still don't know what the charge was for and my account is still suspended, plus, YES, I do believe I was BLACLISTED. Google has even set it up that there is no way you can speak to a live human.


09/27/2012 10:30 am

As a small business, we have on multiple occasions been a bit late with paying our Adwords bill (credit card failed). Every time I have noticed a drop in our organic rankings - I fail to believe this is coincidence :o(.

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