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Step by Step Guide to Blocking Domain Parked Sites on Google AdWords

Google’s recent announcement to extend their domain parking service to all publishers has caused a bit of stir among advertisers. However, from an advertiser’s perspective; it really doesn’t matter as long as you know how to see which domains are doing well for you, and how to block the ones not doing well.

Here’s a step-by-step instruction manual to removing your ad from displaying on under-performing parked domains.

What is a parked domain?

A parked domain is a website that has not been developed. Essentially, someone buys a domain page and then instead of putting content on the page, they just put ads on the page. Most traffic from parked domains are direct type in traffic.

Step by step guide to making decisions about parked domains

First, head to your reporting interface in AdWords and run a placement performance report. This report will give you detailed information about where your ads are being shown, and if you use AdWords conversion tracker, it will also show you conversion data.

One of the columns of the placement performance report is called ‘special categories. Here, Google AdWords will tell you which site is part of the domain parking program.

Placement Report - Parked Domains

Next, export the data into excel. The useful items on the content network are cost per conversion and total conversions. Items like CTR and even conversion rate aren’t very important on the content network.

Microsoft Excel - report  [Read-Only] 12122008 95337 AM

In the placement report, you need to take note of the ‘domain’ column. This will be made up of 1 of 2 pieces of data. The first will just say ‘parked domains’ In this instance, Google is not giving you the actual domain where the ad was clicked. In these cases, you might want to average up the entire section to see how the domains are doing for you. However, you will also see specific domain names where your ad was shown.

If you have certain domains where you’re doing well, you might consider adding them to a placement targeting campaign.

However, the domains not doing well – take note of these URLs. In the next step, we’ll show how to block those domains from displaying your ad.

Block Domains from Showing Your Ads

Navigate in your account to the Tools > Site and Category Exclusion Tools. You will need to select a campaign. Once selected, here is where you can block sites from showing your ad. You have two options.

Option 1 – Block your ad from showing on any parked domain sites.

Navigate to the ‘Page Types’ tab. This will show you your stats by different types of pages where your content ad is shown. Here you can quickly choose a complete page type (such as parked domains or other special categories) and keep your ad from showing on those pages.

Google AdWords- Site and Category Exclusion_1229094112099

Option 2 – Just block underperforming sites.

Click on the ‘Sites’ Tab. This will open up a text box where you can add all of the sites you noticed in excel weren’t performing up to your goals.

Google AdWords- Site and Category Exclusion_1229094352255


Wile the parked domain program is quite controversial. With very little work, you can either completely opt out of this program, or opt out of sites that are not converting for your AdWords account. It doesn’t take that much time.

Previously,many companies did not see a huge amount of impression on the parked domain program (and yet others did); however, with the new announcement, many companies will start to see many more impressions from these pages. Instead of complaining about the results, take the simple steps above to optimize your account for these impressions.

No Comments

  1. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    December 12, 2008 at 11:26 am · Reply

    It should be noted – some people love domain parking sites for showing their ads. Here’s a case study: eFrontier removed their case study.

  2. Richard Ball
    December 13, 2008 at 10:45 am · Reply

    Nice info for parked domains on the content network. It’s the parked domains on the search network that cause advertiser confusion. What’s your advice for analyzing that traffic?

    BTW, don’t you think it would make more sense to simply have a domain network, independent of the existing search and content networks. Routing the traffic across both networks, as is the current practice, is a poor design, IMHO. If not a separate network, they could certainly add an option to opt in or out of this traffic at the campaign level (rather than the clunky design of using site exclusion). Look at what they just added for mobile. They added that option at the campaign setting level.

    I’ve seen some spikes in traffic in pure search campaigns (content network off) where parked domain traffic is chewing up clicks and impressions for exact matches. In those cases, the traffic was actually contextual in nature. IOW, it wasn’t direct navigation. The exact match keyword wasn’t close to the domain name. It was from a click after landing on the domain and then clicking on a contextually relevant link. Those are being routed as searches when they’re actually contextual clicks. If you want specific examples, let me know.

    In the meantime, I’m blocking all parked domains in pure search campaigns. The risk of fraudulent traffic is simply too high. For the content network, your post will be helpful for advertisers. I’d suggest a new post explaining what to do about parked domains on the search network. It’s a completely different story.

  3. Web design
    December 13, 2008 at 4:29 pm · Reply

    Nice article, thanks for the tips.

  4. SearchQuant
    December 15, 2008 at 2:21 pm · Reply

    To Richard’s point, is it clear from Google whether all these AdSense publishers now admitted into domain parking will be in the Content network exclusively, or will some of them be in the search network?

  5. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    December 15, 2008 at 5:55 pm · Reply

    Search vs content is difficult to tell in one area – when the publisher has a search box. Both links and contextual ads (where there is no actual search being conducted) fall into the content network.

    However, when publishers have search boxes on their site, this is usually considered search and not content. As you can’t block search partners yet, I don’t believe (but haven’t tested recently) you can opt out of those ads unless you opt out of all search partners.

  6. Richard Ball
    December 17, 2008 at 5:43 am · Reply

    Yes, Google does classify some parked domains as search even though the clicks they send are actually contextual. This is a serious flaw.

    BTW, you can use the site exclusion tool to block parked domains on the search network. You don’t have to opt out of the entire search network. This is also a design flaw. How many people know that the site exclusion tool (which is a content network tool) impacts the search network in this limited case?

  7. Richard Ball
    December 17, 2008 at 5:55 am · Reply

    Quick followup with sources from Google help pages. First, the site exclusion tool is a content network (NOT search network) tool:

    Quote: The Site and Category Exclusion tool lets you prevent your ads from showing on individual websites or categories of webpages in the Google content network.

    Second, that excluding the parked domains page type does apply to the search network, even though that tool is designed only for the content network:

    Quote: If you exclude this page type, you’ll exclude all parked domain sites, including the ones on the search network.

    For a company like Google that prides itself on simple design, this is an ugly hack. It’s important, though, that advertisers understand how this works.

  8. Phil Barnhart
    December 17, 2008 at 6:03 pm · Reply

    I’m running a test with about a dozen domains (and publishing ongoing results on my blog). Thanks for the info – I’m sure others will be hunting for this info so I’ve linked this from the test results page.

  9. Mike Lamar
    December 19, 2008 at 11:35 am · Reply

    Is it possible to opt out of certain sites on the search network?
    To my understanding, the search network is an on/off type feature.

  10. Brad Geddes aka eWhisper
    December 19, 2008 at 1:42 pm · Reply

    At present you can’t opt out of certain sites on the search network. You have to either be on all of it or none of it. Hopefully, that will change in the future.

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