As a pioneer in its field, Google constantly develops new features and creates updates that aim to improve overall user experience and search results. Among its many updates, the internet behemoth recently introduced its new Three Strike pilot program and expanded the results panel capabilities. 

June and July 2021 have been two months that have seen significant mobility in terms of Google updates. Be it the June and July Google core update, the spam update, or the page experience update. We’ve been monitoring these movements towards a safer internet, more accurate search results, and an improved user experience. Recently, Google took another step in that direction, introducing its Three Strike pilot program for Google ads and expanding the results panel capabilities. Let’s find out more about them and what they mean for law firms investing in digital marketing.

  • What is the three-strike pilot program?

Google is gradually initiating a new program, starting September 2021, that aims to create a safe, seamless, and trustworthy Google Ads experience for searchers, advertisers, and publishers. The three main targets of the pilot program are dishonest behavior, unapproved substances (healthcare and substances), and dangerous products or services. In other words, anything that Google detects as potentially harmful, deceptive, dangerous, or malicious is prohibited by Google Ad policies. Let’s take a look at the prevention and control mechanisms that may affect your ads.

  1. In the first instance of a prohibited behavior within a Google ad/ads, Google will issue a warning and remove the relevant ads.
  2. If the second violation of the same policy (e.g., dishonest behavior) occurs within 90 days, Google will remove the relevant ads and give the first strike. That results in a temporary ban of the offending account. The account won’t have the ability to show any ads during the ban.
  3. If the same account violates the same Google ad policy again within 90 days, Google will give a second warning, remove relevant ads, and implement a seven-day ban. This also serves as the final warning. Further violations may cause the advertiser to face permanent account termination.
  4. The third strike occurs when an advertiser violates the same policy again within 90 days. The third strike is the “final nail in the coffin,” leading to account suspension for repeat violations of Google Ads policies.

Tip: If your law firm receives such a warning, you’ll have to review the information and assess your Google Ads campaigns. Once you review the details and understand the violation, you’ll have to correct it and submit an acknowledgment form stating that you’ve understood the violation and the ad is ready to run again.

  • What should your law firm pay attention to?

If your law firm is investing in Google ads, you might wonder how these policies are relevant to you since your ads are legitimate, intend to help, and don’t do any harm. That’s true, and Google values your legitimate business; there is, however, a grey area in which the algorithm could view a well-intended ad as a potential threat. Consider, for example, that you’re an attorney handling debt relief cases, and your law firm invests in Google Ads for this specific practice area. Or, in another instance, your Personal Injury law firm wants to target car accident cases or catastrophic injury.

The algorithm, and Google bots, might view your ads as a potential threat and send you the first warning. Be proactive. Review your ads and ensure that everything has been created according to Google’s policies and best practices. Then get in touch with Google and explain the issue to set things straight. If you suspect that your ad was flagged for the wrong reasons, you can use Google’s appeal service, which helps advertisers reinstate a disapproved or limited ad.

  • The enhanced about result panel.

A few months ago, in February 2021, Google introduced a function that allows searchers to gather additional information about their search results. The about results panel creates a more informed user experience, allowing them to discover why search results are on the SERP and where the data comes from.

More recently, on July 22, 2021, Google released additional information and improved the tool’s functionality. The about results panel now shows critical data about the most significant factors Google search is using to rank the results on a particular SERP. Those indicators are matching keywords (showing if a webpage contains the search terms), related terms (showing if a webpage contains related terms to the query), related links (showing if other pages link to a webpage using the keywords of the query), and local relevance (which could be particularly useful for legal vertical queries as some clients favor proximity).

As always, it’s time for our takeaways:

  • Google is constantly improving its algorithm, products, and services to create a seamless user experience. Understanding that the user is the center of its ecosystem is vital. Every law firm investing in Google ads (and digital marketing in general) should put this at the forefront.
  • The new three strike pilot program is a positive step towards a spam-less future with Google Ads, increasing the trustworthiness of ads on the network and creating enhanced relevancy.
  • The pilot program is not yet active but keep an eye on your campaigns and mailbox. If you receive a warning, look into your law firm’s Google Ads, revisit them, and ensure that you follow the policies and best practices.