google adwords account suspended

Why can’t Google give me a straight answer?!

Does it frustrate the heck out of you when Google won’t tell you exactly what you need to do to unsuspend your Adwords account? Don’t they want to get paid by your business for using their services? it seems like it would be in their best interest to tell you exactly what to do when you accidentally break the rules, but Google is notoriously close-mouthed when it comes to suspensions.

Their usual method is to give very generic answers and only tell you a single thing that’s incorrect. Even if you figure out the first thing to fix and change it, it’s no guarantee you’ll be back in business. So why does Google do this?  I’m going to go over the reasons why Google is very vague about what needs to happen to your website in order for your AdWords account to be reinstated.

First, Google expects that you understand the AdWords policies when you sign up for their service. Your business model has to align with their policies. The goal of the policies is to keep the quality of the ads on Google’s network high, and, by and large, most businesses do follow the policies. There have been enough bad apples over the years that the policies have become quite strong.

I’ll give an example that I had with a client. My client had a website that would ask for a name and email address in exchange for some information. Google suspended their account for “untrustworthy promotions”. When we asked for more information they directed us to the policies and wouldn’t explain further.

The key to understanding why Google’s rules are the way they are is to think about what would happen if the rule wasn’t there. The goal of the site was a trade of data for information, but what if the information never came through? Spammers could just take your information, never give you anything, and then spam your information or sell it to others. This used to be pretty common, and so Google started shutting down anything that even had a whiff that it was made just to harvest data.

Of course, my client really was giving out information in exchange for the name and email. They wanted that info so they could start the sales process. But to Google, my client should have just offered some information for free on the page, and then perhaps offered something more in exchange for personal information. These tricky edge cases are the ones that I see often in my practice. In this case, the client wanted the personal information to later sell a product, so we put a large ad on the page, at least half the space minimum, for the product to show Google that the purpose of the page was the sell the product, not to harvest the information. Once we did that and submitted the site for reapproval and the suspension was lifted.

So it’s not just enough to know the rules. You also have to know why the rules are there.

Google expects you to know these things when you use their service. While they do have help pages explaining the concepts and the rules in detail, the examples aren’t always clear. And if you’re not in the trenches dealing with a lot of PPC accounts it can be hard to know when you may be stumbling into an edge case.

Google also gets another advantage by staying vague. Those marketers who would love to exploit the ad network would prefer specifics. Then they’d find holes in the rules and try to ruin it for everyone. Think of the chaos that would happen if Google exposed every aspect of their search algorithm. The top spots would be filled with spam before you know it.

If you get suspended, the first thing to do is to read through the AdWords policies to see where you might have slipped up. Call the helpdesk after to get their official reason, and know up front that you’re not going to get a straight answer. If you can figure out what went wrong, you may be able to fix it yourself. But sometimes professional help is needed, especially if there are multiple violations or you don’t know how to solve the problem. Thankfully, most suspensions are reversible given enough time and technical assistance.


Chris Hickman is the Founder and CEO at Adficient with 14 years of experience in search marketing and conversion optimization. In 2006 he founded to help businesses and websites suspended in Adwords to get back on Google.

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