Why Google Might Flag Your Landing Page (and What to Do About it)

Written by Charles Ngo
Written by Charles Ngo

What’s one of your biggest fears when you’re buying paid traffic?
For me, it’s an error happening on my landing page while I’m busy.
I remember times where I’ve lost money overnight because the server crashed while I was sleeping. Your landing page may be down, but the traffic source is still going to keep sending those clicks.
But besides the server crashing, there’s another error you might face as an affiliate marketer.
Have you ever tried to visit a website and you see a huge red screen instead? Yea, their domain got flagged by Google.
And this can happen to you.
So imagine you’re sending traffic, and your users see this instead of your landing page. You’re burning money away.
In this article, I’m going to share some reasons why Google flags some landing pages and some options you have to help prevent it.

What Does the “Deceptive Site Ahead” Warning Mean?

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Google is strict when it comes to the privacy of users.
If they think a site MIGHT be illegally gathering personal data and account information, they’ll flag it. They don’t mess around on this stuff.
Every day, Google scans billions of websites with its algorithm, and if it detects a “suspicious” website, it will flag it as a “Deceptive Site”.
Any Chrome user that tries to access that website will get blocked.
But what’s considered a “suspicious” website?
A couple examples:

  • A website that falsely claims your system is out of date
  • A phishing website that tries to steal your bank details
  • A website that injects tons of malicious codes into your browser to steal personal information

These are considered deceptive and Google will flag them.
“But Charles, I’m not doing anything shady. I’m just running Sweepstakes Campaigns. Why am I still flagged?”
Here are some more reasons you might get flagged, even if you’re not being shady.

7 Possible Reasons Why Your Domains Are Flagged

Here’s a simple question to ask yourself: Is what you’re doing providing false information to your audience?
If it is, there’s a good chance your domains will get flagged.
Google isn’t always clear on why they flag a domain, so it can be hard to be 100% certain on the reasons.
However, there are some common reasons I see my competitors getting flagged.

#1: Using Copyrighted Materials

Brand logos, fake Facebook like buttons, and anything else that infringes on copyrighted stuff is going to be flagged.
Google’s algorithm can detect these and will shut you down.
If you’re using copyrighted material, stop.
Also, why risk getting yourself into lawsuits?

#2: TOO MANY Aggressive Scripts

You enter a site and the screen explodes.
An intrusive script covers your screen until you take action.
You try to exit the site…
…another screen explosion.
Another intrusive script forcing you to take another action.
One or two MIGHT be okay, but I’ve seen sites that literally won’t let me leave without taking a specific action. The only way out is to close the browser.
A few days later?
Google is all about pleasing their audience. If your site is going to piss people off because of all the scripts you’re running, Google will flag it.

#3: Unexpected Malicious Codes

Malicious codes take advantage of browser vulnerabilities and exploit them.
And you may NOT even be aware that you have malicious codes on your landers.
How does this happen?
Maybe you ripped an affiliate page from AdPlexity. The creators of this page may have disguised malicious codes to make it look like the page is safe.
Google can’t be fooled though.
Always double check your landers or run them through a service like VirusTotal.

#4: Deceptive or False Claims

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Have you seen headlines like, “You’ve Won an iPhone for FREE!”
Google knows you’re lying, and honestly, so does everybody else.
If Google sees you doing it, they’ll bring the hammer down.
Don’t make fake claims about iPhones or cruises or anything else.
You’re better than that anyway. You shouldn’t need to lie to make it in affiliate marketing.

#5: Using Shared Hosting

Sometimes, it’s not your fault.
It could that ONE bad egg that f**ks it all up.
Here’s the 80-20.
Shared hosting usually means you’re sharing IP addresses with a few other webmasters.
If their domains get flagged, it’s possible the IP address will get flagged too.
If your domain is hosted on the flagged IP, there’s a good chance your domains will get flagged.
That is why I always recommend that affiliates go with a dedicated VPS.
A dedicated VPS means no shared IP addresses.

#6: Manually Reported

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A person might simply feel that your website is deceptive.
They can manually report it to Google, which then triggers a manual review.
Honestly, you can’t do much about it. You just have to hope your site doesn’t get flagged.

#7: One Part Of Your Funnel Got Flagged

Yes, your entire funnel is usually checked by Google.
An issue with even part of your funnel can lead to the whole thing getting flagged.
For example, if your offer is flagged for deceptive advertising, it spirals up the redirect chain and your landing page gets flagged.
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If one part of your funnel gets flagged, I highly recommend checking your offer to see if it’s flagged too.
If it is, stop running it.

Two Signs Your Domains Might Be Flagged

There are two main signs that your domains are flagged.

#1: Low or Negative Campaign ROI

If your campaign turns RED, there’s a really good chance that it’s flagged.
There could be other reasons but always check that one first.
It’s like if you keep getting turned down on Tinder. Check your profile pic. Wearing a fanny pack isn’t a good look.

#2: Your Landing Page CTR Is Terrible

If your lander is flagged, your audience will see the BIG RED “Deceptive Site Ahead” warning.
They won’t be able to click through to the offer page, which is why your CTR is so low.
If your tracker gets flagged, people won’t even reach your lander.
Your CTR will be a big, fat ZERO.

3 Ways to Verify A Domain Flagged Status

The moment you suspect a domain is flagged, you need to check it. Every second it stays flagged, you’re burning money.
Here are some simple ways to verify that your domains are flagged.

#1: Open the URL on Your Chrome Browser

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This is obvious.

  1. Open up Google Chrome (has to be Chrome, not Safari/Firefox)
  2. Load up your URL

If you see the above red box, it’s flagged.

#2: Use the Google Transparency Report

This is straight from Google’s Safe Browsing database:
It’s easy:

  1. Plug in your URL here.
  2. View the results.

If it’s flagged, you might see the following message.
If it’s safe, you’ll see this.
Protip: Don’t just check your Landers. Check your entire redirect chain (i.e. tracker/offers URL).

#3: Use 3rd Party Malware/Security Scanning Services

Like Google’s Safe Browsing Service, these free services will analyze your website for known malware.
One of my favorites is VirusTotal.
VirusTotal uses ~70 antivirus scanners and URL domain blacklisting service to check if a domain is considered deceptive.
Here’s an example:
I also like VirusTotal because Google Safebrowsing is one of the primary services they used to scan your URL.
Using it similar to Google’s Safe Browsing:

  1. Plug in your URL here.
  2. View the results.

If you don’t like VirusTotal, you can check out the other 3rd party malware scanning service: Sucuri.

What Should You Do If Your Domains Are Flagged?

Your number one priority is to change to a new domain.
Emailing Google to get them to reevaluate your site can work, but you should do that later.
It’s like if you cut yourself on a knife and are bleeding really bad. The first thing you do is get a bandage. You don’t rearrange your silverware drawer so the knives are in the back.
You gotta stop the bleeding.
Sames goes for a flagged domain.
You’re bleeding money and need to fix it fast.
Here’s what I would suggest you do.

  1. Pause traffic
  2. Buy a new domain
  3. Host it on a new IP
  4. Point your DNS over.
  5. Duplicate your files over to the new server.
  6. Resume traffic

Pro-tip: always have pre-configured aged backup domains on standby.
Your duplicated files should already be on a new server.
Once it’s flagged, switch the name of your trackers on Voluum, and you’re up and running.
Always be thinking ahead.

Take It To The Next Level

You know that I’m all about efficiency. Here’s how I make this process as easy as possible.

#1: Build Systems

Always use systems and technology to make your campaigns better.
For example:

  1. Can you make this part of your daily SOPs for your team to check?
  2. Are you able to make use of APIs to automate this whole process?

You don’t even need to know how to program to automate your process.
Brainstorm and then hire someone on Upwork to program it for you.
Or, consider using third-party services like Monitis.com to do automatic Malware scanning for you.
This is a paid service, but it’s worth it for your campaign ROI.

#2: Separate Your Traffic With Multiple Identical Domains

Most people send all their traffic to one domain name like CharlesSweepstakes.com.
Why not run your campaign to five identical landing pages, all on separate domains/servers?

  • 20% Domain 1
  • 20% Domain 2
  • 20% Domain 3
  • 20% Domain 4
  • 20% Domain 5

If one site gets flagged then you’re only losing 20% of your traffic rather than 100% until you fix it.

#3: Blocking Certain ISPs (Internet Service Providers)

Filter your campaign stats by ISP/Carrier.
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You will find some of these ISPs actually belong to virus scanning services.
For example: XYZ Multiscan Services
Based on their own algorithm, they may have unintentionally flagged your URL to Google.
Look out for these services and then redirect them with rules from your tracker.

Key Takeaways

There is no 100% foolproof solution to keep from getting flagged by Google.
Google will always continue to improve its algorithm to keep us safe.
Make sure you’re playing by Google’s rules. Otherwise, you’ll lose profits overnight.
Instead of being reactive this situation, be proactive.
Always be thinking ahead and include it as part of your system.
The next time you get flagged, you should already have the necessary resources to get your campaigns back to green.
Let me know if this is useful for you in the comments below ↓
Featured Image by London Deposit

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                The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

The posts published by Charles are prepared and analyzed, including the author’s own experience…

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