A recent AllBusiness.com article, “Eight Reasons Google Is Blocking Your Web Site,” discussed the nightmare of finding out that your Web site has been banished from Google’s search results. Google also wields a heavy hand against those who violate rules in AdSense, Google’s ad network.
AdSense allows you to display targeted ads based on the content of your site or provide Google search functions on your site; in return you get a cut of the ad revenue.
So what happens when you get kicked out? You open your e-mail inbox to find a message stating that ad serving to your site has been suspended, you have three working days to fix an issue on your site, or your account has been completely disabled. Google may tell you why this has happened, or they may just say you’re in violation of a policy. Then it’s up to you to figure out what went wrong, fix it, and get down on your knees and beg Google via e-mail to reinstate your account.
But unless there’s been an egregious error or you made an honest mistake, it may not be possible to convince Google to reinstate your account. Your next best move is to try another ad serving program like AdBrite’s Text Link Ads or Yahoo! YPN.
The best thing is to understand in advance the moves that tick Google off and do your best to avoid them. Here are some simple steps you can take.
- Follow Google’s webmaster best practices. We covered these in our previous Google article, but here are some of the biggest transgressions: No excessive, repetitive, or irrelevant keywords, especially hidden ones; no “doorway” pages with content created just for search engines; and no content copying from other sites. In general, don’t be deceptive and don’t create different content for users and search engines. Make a good, useful site that you yourself would enjoy patronizing.
- Don’t click on your own ads. Don’t get software to do it either. “Click fraud” is the biggest no-no. It’s a bit of a mystery as to how many times you can accidentally click on your own ads (mistakes do happen), but never do it purposely or ask friends or family to click. If you wish to find out where one of your advertisements goes, use AdSense’s “preview tool” to do so without incurring Google’s wrath.
Also avoid any tools, robots, or software meant to increase your ads’ impressions. Any artificial means of inflating your clicks is verboten.
- Create original, appropriate content. If your site contains adult content, violent content, intolerant content, too much profanity, or information about hacking, drugs, or gambling, AdSense doesn’t want you. Same goes for Web sites that sell alcohol, prescription medication, tobacco, weapons, academic essays, imposter designer goods, or anything else deemed illegal. Illegally lifting copyrighted material from other sites is also forbidden.
- Don’t beg for clicks. The AdSense program exists to create ads users will naturally want to click on because they’re contextually appropriate. Therefore, Google doesn’t want you to compensate users for clicking, ask users to click, use graphics to draw attention to ads, mislabel ads as anything but “sponsored links” or “advertisements,” or format ads in a way in which users can no longer tell they’re ads.
- Avoid artificial means of gathering traffic. You want to be very careful about sites or tools that send traffic to you. Don’t use paid-to-click programs or send spam e-mails to gather traffic. If traffic is being sent to your site from toolbars or malware that causes pop-ups or other nefarious means of controlling a user’s browser, it’s your responsibility to get off those services or let Google know about the issue.
- Place ads in the appropriate place — your site. Don’t display AdSense ads or even search boxes in toolbars, pop-ups, pop-unders, e-mails, or noncontent pages. You also may not place Google ads on your site if you have other ads that could be easily confused with Google ads. The ads must be distinguished from one another.
There are also limits in how you display AdSense ads. You’re limited to three ad units and three link units per page. You may only place two Google AdSense ads for search boxes per page. On subsequent results pages, you may only place one single link unit or search box.
The main thing to remember is that you’re not the most important part of the AdSense equation. Google wants to protect its advertisers and serve up the best results to end users. You’re the middleman and as such it’s best to play by Google’s rules to keep the ad revenue flowing in.