Avoiding the Google Slap: Staying on the Right Side of AdWords Policy
It seems like every day a news story comes out about Google’s algorithm changes and how they are hurting small businesses (see Panda or Penguin). While the Panda and Penguin updates are focused on organic results, Google’s hardcore crackdown is also extending into the realm of PPC and the AdWords platform.
Unfortunately, a couple of wrong steps in the eyes of Google (e.g. Policy Violations), and you could find this staring at you the next time you log into AdWords:
Here are a few of the common issues we see that could be putting your business in the crosshairs of the AdWords Policy Police.
Get Rich Quick Vibe and Exaggerated/Misleading Claims
Google HATES any websites that make claims of getting rich quick, becoming a millionaire from home, or learning the secrets to instant wealth and prosperity. Pushing traffic to a landing page with any of these types of claims is begging Google to shut you down.
Along the same lines are any claims that Google may see as exaggerated or misleading. Headlines and page copy that include words such as “Guaranteed”, “Instantly”, or “Cure” would be hard pressed to pass an AdWords policy inspection. Even toned down versions of these can be enough for Google to suspend you.
Make sure your claims are as accurate as possible. If necessary, include a disclaimer on your landing pages. Even if it’s at the bottom of the page, it could save you a future policy headache.
Forcing Users to Sign Up
This is a frustrating one for internet marketers. The highest converting landing pages typically have only a single action for a user to take: opt-in/purchase. However, Google wants to promote a “good user experience” and will shut you down for information harvesting if it feels your forcing visitors to provide their information to get your services.
The best way to avoid this is to offer paths to additional content on your site (but make sure you have opt-in boxes on those pages as well). Placing links at the bottom of your landing page to site content like your blog, contact us, about us, and services pages is one way to accomplish this.
Single Page Site or “Bridge Page”
If you’re going to run an AdWords campaign, you should never send users to a standalone page without a real website behind it. Not only will your ad relevancy and Quality Score take a huge hit, but Google’s policy team will immediately assume you’re doing something shady.
Also, if you’re redirecting users to another site after opting in, Google considers this a “Bridge Page” and a violation of AdWords policy.
Make sure you have a fully independent and complete website before you start driving traffic. Again, it’s important to offer content beyond just an opt-in.
Pop-ups are an annoying, but common and effective online marketing tactic, but also one that AdWords doesn’t allow.
Keep any landing pages free of pop-ups, including exit pop-ups. The only type of pop-up Google will allow on a landing page are genuine alert warnings (e.g. invalid web form entry). If you’re not sure, don’t use it.
What Do I Do If Google Suspends Me?
These common issues are far from the only things for which Google will suspend you, but they are the ones we see most often. If you do become suspended, contact AdWords support and ask for specific changes that need to be made to ensure you are not violating their policies.
Remember that the enforcement of AdWords policy is extremely subjective, but if you’re polite and follow their direction, your account should be back up before too long.