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Google Cracks Down On Unclear Subscription Pages

Google Cracks Down On Unclear Subscription Pages Blog Feature

November 15th, 2018 min read

Marketing Transparency is a big phrase this year. In fact, when searched in Google, the phrase produces 215 million results. 215 MILLION!

What exactly is Marketing Transparency? Copypress defined the phrase well by stating, “Transparency essentially comes down to being clear and honest with customers.”

The rise of marketing transparency is largely due to consumers increased demand for it and in recent years, more and more companies are making stronger efforts to appease them, however, search engines have been slower to adopt this strategy...until now.

Today, even Google is taking it upon itself to crack down on brands and websites with unclear subscription pages.  

So, What’s Going On?

Google has recently announced, starting in December 2018 with the launch of Chrome 71, users will receive a warning notification when viewing unclear payment and subscription forms on the desktop and mobile devices.

The warning notification will notify users that they are entering a page that may be trying to charge them money and provide the opportunity for users to go back to the previous page.

How Did We Get Here?


Along with pressure from the increased consumer demand for transparency from merchants and large tech companies, Google has had some past issues with fraudulent billing within Google Play and other Google products.

As Google indicated in their announcement, they “want to make sure Chrome users understand when they are going through a billing flow and trust that they’ll be able to make informed decisions while browsing the web.”

Not only is this feature a show on transparency on Google’s own end but it also shows the company’s push to hold others to the same standards.

Why Does it Matter to Marketers?


If you are using mobile or eCommerce on your website, it is important to be extremely clear and transparent regarding all payment/subscription information to not only build trust with your consumer, but obviously now with Google.

This includes carrying the information into your marketing strategy. Google has provided guidelines to follow when updating your billing page.

It’s important to note that user experience will play a huge role in the success of your billing/subscription pages. If you don’t meet Google’s standards and a user lands on your billing page, they may be met with a warning such as this:

unclear mobile billing notification

(image via Google)

Chances are high that they will select to return to the previous page than continue in entering billing details to a page that has been flagged with a warning (possibly without even reading it).

Every marketer should make note of this!

There’s no word yet on if these regulations will be pushed to unpaid subscriptions as well (i.e. many small business blogs), but as a marketer, it’s best to take heed and always be as clear as possible about your offer and what’s to come on your landing page either way.

This is a huge sign that Google is taking transparency and sound business practices seriously and regardless of if there is an exchange of money, your business should adhere.

What Do I Need To Do To Avoid Being Flagged?


Don’t wait until December to find out you have been flagged!

Be proactive and review your billing page(s) right away. Compare the current copy on your page (both desktop and mobile version, if different) to Google’s Guidelines and make necessary changes.

However, have no fear! Google isn’t going to simply begin adding warnings to websites with unclear billing pages.

Between now and December, Google will be notifying webmasters via Google Search Console if their site is at risk of receiving the warning and will provide the opportunity to update the website and re-submit it.

If a website isn’t on Google Search Console, Google will do their best to reach and notify the webmaster of possible warnings.

What’s the Bottomline?


Transparency matters. Whether you are a marketer, business owner, and/or consumer being transparent builds your customer’s trust, shows integrity within your company or organization, and provides a smooth user experience for your web platforms.

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