Today, I want to tell you a dirty little secret.
A few years ago, Google started slashing and burning Google accounts by the tens of thousands.
I myself had almost 10,000 customers who lost their businesses overnight because Google banned thousands of keywords and even entire Google accounts. That was only the first of a long series of purges, which mostly targeted affiliates and people in “edgy” businesses like alternative health and business opportunities.
Another customer of mine sold equipment that enabled you to add water injection to your car engine, which can increase fuel efficiency by 15 to 20 percent. Google banned his account because of all the problems they had with unscrupulous vendors selling mostly ebooks on the same topic.
What is this all about?
Certainly some of it is Google responding to customer complaints and seeking a quality search experience. But, there’s another ingredient: the long arm of the law.
In 2011, Google was fined $500 million by the U.S. Justice Department for selling ads to Canadian pharmacies that were illegally advertising cheap drugs to U.S. customers. In the government’s opinion, Google was culpable and responsible for the actions of its advertisers.
That, combined with other government crackdowns, has tallied up to more than a billion dollars in fines. In the U.S. government’s mind, why go after tens of thousands of rogue operators when you can put one bullet in the head of a behemoth? Uncle Sam punishes Google for the sins of its AdWords customers.
This is why Google seems passive-aggressive and bureaucratic.This is why you sometimes can’t seem to get a straight answer from Google about editorial guidelines — Google itself doesn’t know what’s going to get it in hot water. So all it can do is try to avoid taking business that’s going to get it in trouble.
If you’re in business opportunities, weight loss, alternative health, medicine, financial distress, alternative energy — any “edgy” category where :
- Customers are in a lot of pain or have extremely pressing problems,
- Unscrupulous operators tend to play and/or
- Markets are regulated or frequently subject to crackdowns by Attorney Generals and complaints to the Federal Trade Commission, advertising on Google is going to be a dicey proposition.
But, there are ways to stay in Google’s good graces. Let’s talk about one of the most important.
Follow the Editorial Guidelines and Keep Google Happy
Over the years, Google has refined its policy on what is and isn’t acceptable in an ad. Although most of it is common sense, it’s still resulted in a lengthy list of dos and don’ts, which can be found on Google’s AdWords Policy Center page.
If you’re going to advertise with Google, you have to be smart about what you’re claiming. It comes down to three words: truthful, accurate and up to date. Sure, there’s some subjectivity here, but as long as you do your level best to stay within the spirit of these particular rules, you shouldn’t run into problems.
This is good common sense and good marketing sense: a clear connection between the text of your ads and the content on your website. If, for example, your ad offers a discount, it should be easy to find on your website. If your ad mentions special pricing, it should be no more than two clicks from your landing page. Any call to action in your ad should be immediately evident on the landing page.
If you claim to be the “world’s greatest” or fastest or smallest or cheapest or most expensive or whatever, you must back up your claim with proof. This isn’t just a good way to stay in Google’s good graces — it’s good marketing. How will people knowthat you’re the fastest, smallest or cheapest? Have you proven it, right there on the web page? Or provided a link or reference verifying that it’s so? This is extremely important and more so for your prospective customers than Google’s staff!
Relevance, Clarity and Accuracy
“Relevance” and “accuracy” refer to how well your ad copy matches what’s on your landing page. “Clarity” covers a wider variety of sins you’ll need to avoid, including:
- Missing lines of text
- Excessive spacing
- “Commonly accepted grammar” (This is Google’s exact wording, implying that they’ll allow a modicum of imperfect grammar.)
- Generic call-to-action phrases (such as “Click here” or “+1”).
- Using characters for anything other than their intended or usual meaning. For example, the greater-than “>” symbol is fine if you’re using it to indicate that something actually is greater than something else, but you can’t use it as an arrow.
- Words in all capitals
- Bad spelling
- Repetition. For example, “Buy! Buy! Buy!” would be flagged as unacceptable
Follow the above guidelines when you build your ads, and you’ll be fine 99 percent of the time. Still, be sure and visit the AdWords Policy Center page and review their directions.