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How is Google’s repair ads ban affecting tech businesses?

As Google removes adverts related to computer repairs in a bid to stop scammers, how is this affecting legitimate businesses? Tech For Techs asks its members.

MIKE WHITEHOUSE, SUNDERLAND COMPUTER REPAIRS
“I have worked with Google for a long time and I’ve resigned myself to having to spend £300 a month to get my ads on the search results. When I once tried an experiment and switched the ads off, my business plummeted. Google are judge and jury when it comes to adverts. They know that if they upset a customer, someone else will simply fill the gap. So I’m taken for granted. I guess that Heinz or Next can probably ring Google up if they want. I’m expected to send a message or find another punter in the discussion groups who has gone through the same thing.

I recently got an email that Google had ‘disapproved’ my adverts. That means that they have stopped working. My customer numbers have plummeted. Why have they stopped? No idea. Google has told me that they contravene their policy on ‘other restricted businesses’. The same adverts have been running for the past 18 months with no issues. The way to deal with this is to try to change them (difficult if you don’t know what the problem is), or send Google a message, which I have done and 24 hrs later they continue to ignore.

So Google changes a policy, cripple my business, have no means of explaining what I’ve done to upset them and I have no means of comeback. Welcome to the future everyone, where we ‘re told what to do by Google, Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon. This is absolutely killing my trade. I will be lucky to survive another two months if this continues.”

PETE WRIGHT, RADCLIFFE COMPUTERS
“This is only a bad thing if you’re reliant on ads. Get the website running ok and there will be no ads above you – it could be a win. Time to research the SEO myself as my website SEO is shocking.”

GARY MORRIS, PC WRANGLERS
“Been going through this pain over the last three weeks watching the ads I’ve been running for years slowly dying. Sitting here waiting for my ads rep to call back. What annoys me is they announced this last August but didn’t bother to inform anyone that was actually paying for ads. We could have spent that time upping the ante on our website SEO. I’m still trying to pin them down on when this verification process will start (if ever). Maybe time for us to start pestering David Graff, Director of Global Policy – the guy that decided this was a great idea.”

JAMES ERNEST BRYAN, JB COMPUTERS
“If Google won’t take my money, I’ll shift it to Facebook for a while, one of the main reasons for having an advert is that everyone had one, now no one has, I don’t need to.”

STEVE BARKER, DTEC COMPUTERS
“We lost all of our repair-focused Google AdWords, they were disapproved on 23rd May. Before this, we were getting approx. 120 – 130 impressions per day. We ask every customer how they found us and the majority say Google (this could be AdWords, Natural listing or Google Places). We come up well for Natural and Places, so all is not lost.

I know Google is trying to stop computer repair scams, but I received a response from the company saying that until further notice, my adverts would not be shown. If I searched for ‘Laptop Repair Carlisle’ the top AdWords link was to a computer repair tool download, I think this is the opposite to what they are trying to achieve.

According to Google customer services, even if we can prove we are a legitimate computer repair business, our adverts won’t be shown and they can’t tell me when this might be resolved. When I responded asking why the bogus software company’s AdWords were allowed, I got no response and that advert has now been removed.”

DANIEL POTTER, GATEACRE COMPUTERS
“I’ve just done a search for ‘computer repairs Liverpool’ and the only ad showing is for Currys PC World. If they can make an exception for them why not us? We are doing exactly the same thing. Looking at the policy wording it’s saying ‘technical support’, I would define that as first line telephone support, not break fixing. This is understandable based on the scams. I have also asked Google to email me the full wording of the policy to see what they are trying to block/not allow and whether there is a loophole we can fall under.”

MARTIN GAUNT, THE COMPUTER TECHNICIAN
“It was getting too expensive, so I was cutting back after using Google AdWords for 10 years. I stopped because of the ban on keyword ‘repair’ back in Jan. PC World is obviously not being treated as a 3rd party – as the word ‘repair’ in any way shape or form is being stopped for 3rd parties. The last email from Google has highlighted all my past ads, I have about 10 or so. Every ad I have run for the last 10 years with any combination of the word ‘repair’ has been removed.”

CORMAC O DONOGHUE, CROSSHAVEN COMPUTERS
“With Google cracking down on AdWords for tech repairs due to scams, it’s not worth spending money on them. Use that time and money on SEO. Pro tip: always update your bank holiday hours, Google loves this and it really helps your SEO. I think Facebook and Instagram also give a way better bang for your buck.”

PHILIP AND JENNI GRIFFITHS, TECH FOR TECHS
“Google has basically put a blanket ban on all tech repair- related adverts. This was done to stop a lot of the online scams, where people think they are calling a local tech support company or a specific company like Apple, HP, Microsoft, etc, but in actuality they are getting directed to scam websites pretending to be these support companies. Unfortunately, this has had the negative effect of stopping the adverts for genuine independent tech companies, which may have relied on Google Ads to get customers to their store or website, especially stores that are not in the centre of a town or city.

It seems strange that Google has put a blanket ban on computer repairs rather than asking these stores to verify who they are with something like a tax bill or utility bill to prove they are a real store. Google also has a verification system in place already so they can verify where you are, so you get correctly listed on Google Maps, and what’s even more annoying is that large stores like PC World (at time of writing) have the monopoly on Google as they still have ads running.

On a positive note, this is a good time to make sure your website is up-to-date, and you do everything you can to improve your search rankings. If you have done your Search Engine Optimisation well, you will not have to contend with the adverts above you on the listings (with the exception of PC World). Google are not the only search engine out there, you can always advertise with Microsoft Bing, or even on social media like Facebook and LinkedIn. You may be able to advertise in a sector where you have little or no competition in your area.”

TECH FOR TECHS
Launched in January 2018, Tech for Techs (TFT) is a new community for technicians of all kinds, including on-site call out services, retailers, resellers, managed service providers, vendors and distributors. Free to join, TFT is run by the team behind retailer Chips Computers and offers up insight and information on the industry, as well as product reviews, price comparisons, free directory listings and more.

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