MacAdam Lea
By MacAdam Lea | SEM | April 3, 2015

Google Ad Policies: Prohibited Practices

In my last blog we started talking about the rules every business needs to follow when advertising on Google: the AdWords Policies. We covered Prohibited Content and the different types of goods and services that Google strictly disallows on the AdWords Network, like firearms and tobacco products. This week we’ll be talking about the rules that everyone needs to follow once they’ve started running their ads: the “Prohibited Practices”.

Prohibited Content covers what you can and can’t advertise, and Prohibited Practices cover specific actions you can’t perform if you want to continue running your advertisements. Violating the Prohibited Practices is less likely to get your account banned outright, but there are very real consequences nonetheless. You could end up hurting your quality scores, which directly influence how much you need to bid for each of your keywords.


A good score means you pay less, a bad score means you pay more.

A good score means you pay less, a bad score means you pay more.

Abuse of the Ad Network – Googles main service is connecting users with what they’re searching for as efficiently and effectively as possible. They want ads to be useful, relevant and safe for users across the internet. If someone searches for “Apples” they don’t want to end up with a page fill with ads for “Oranges”. This means that Google hates:

  • Malicious ads, sites, or apps
  • Ads promoting sites that offer little unique value to users and are focused primarily on traffic generation
  • Businesses that attempt to gain an unfair advantage in the ad auction
  • Businesses that attempt to bypass Google’s review process

Quality scores are directly related to the relevancy of your ads, so try to make your ads match up with the info on your website as closely as possible.

Irresponsible Data Collection & Use – If you’re collecting information on the traffic that visits your site you’re going to want to make sure that you’re using it responsibly and taking steps to ensure its protection. Some examples of sensitive user information would be:

  • Financial status
  • Political affiliation
  • Sexual orientation
  • Credit card information
  • Social Security
  • Tax ID
  • Health Care

If you’re selling a product on your site, make sure you’re taking credit card information over a secure server. Not only do you risk your AdWords account, but you risk your business reputation as well. It’s also important to not write ads that imply that you know the user personally. An example would be “John, you’re in terrible debt. Get help today!”. Just keep everything focused on your business and there shouldn’t be any issues.

Misrepresentation of Self, Product, or Service – If your ad says it’s selling “Apples” then it had better not lead to a link selling “Oranges”. Google expects you to be upfront, honest, and to provide users with the information that they need to make an informed decision. This means no:

  • Promotions that prompt users to initiate a purchase, download, or other commitment without first providing all relevant information and obtaining the user’s explicit consent
  • Promotions that represent you, your products, or your services in a way that is not accurate, realistic and truthful

So if you’re selling a product that costs $20 don’t advertise that it only costs $15. It will only come back to bite you in the end, and remember that highly relevant ads are rewarded with higher quality scores and a lower cost per click.

Yodan't want waste his time with irrelevant advertisements.

Yodan’t want to waste his time with irrelevant advertisements.

Hopefully this has given you a clearer idea of the rules you need to follow if you’re thinking about advertising on Google AdWords. Next time we’ll finish up the series with a blog on Restricted Content – things that you can advertise on Google but with certain limitations.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll PP-See you all next time!

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