Jonathan Saipe

20 Google AdWords Policies Marketers Must Know

13 January 2014, Jonathan Saipe

Google AdWords policies and guidelinesGoogle lays down some strict policy rules when it comes to advertising, most of which are perfectly reasonable and obvious.

Below is a quick summary to help you when planning AdWords campaigns, building landing pages or creating ad copy.

1. The back button

Landing pages must be easy to enter or exit. Any attempt to keep users on a landing page by “disabling” the back button will be contravening Google’s rules.

2. Industry restrictions

The following industries have advertising restrictions in place (although these can vary by country and it’s therefore best to check the finer details with Google) :

  • Adult sexual services
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Weapons that can cause harm; items such as non-working guns, paintball guns, flare guns, kitchen knives etc are allowed
  • Casinos and gambling
  • Counterfeit goods
  • Fireworks or pyrotechnic devices; firework display companies are allowed to advertise
  • Products from endangered species
  • Fake documents e.g IDs, passports etc
  • Websites that only display ads
  • Political parties and candidates where it is prohibited by law
  • Some healthcare ads including clinical trial recruitment, HIV home tests, secret paternity tests and prescription drugs (unless licensed)
  • Traffic devices intended to interfere with the enforcement of traffic laws

3. Bridge or doorway pages

Bridge pages that send users to either a different domain or a non-compliant landing page (from an AdWords policy perspective) are not allowed. Some exceptions include ecommerce pages that lead to a 3rd party payment website to process payments.

4. Copyright infringement

Google AdWords doesn’t allow the copying or distribution of copyrighted material unless you have consent from the copyright holder, or are otherwise permitted by law.

5. Destination URL

Your destination URL must link to a web page that works for all locations (irrelevant of how you have geotargeted your campaign).  You can’t link to an email address or file download such as a video download or executable.  Your landing page domain must match the domain in your destination URL with no clever redirects or affiliate schemes.

6. Implied affiliation

Google doesn’t allow ad copy to include affiliation or partnership with Google without their authorisation. Also, your ads can’t imply an affiliation or partnership with any unrelated 3rd party.

7. Parked domains

Google doesn’t allow ads that lead to parked websites that have little valuable content such as excessive ads or little transparency about the organisation’s products or services.

8. Malware

If your website is infected with malware or sells software to that effect, you are in contravention of Google’s guidelines.

9. Cloaking

A with its natural search algorithm, Go0gle AdWords does not tolerate sites that are using techniques to show different content to different user agents such as Googlebot. Content displayed to humans must be the same content that Google or other bots see.

10. Mirroring or framing

In order to send users to unique content, Google AdWords does not allow the duplication or “mirroring” of websites across different servers or domains. Nor does it allow the use of frames – where 3rd party website content is displayed in a frame of a different website and no additional unique content is presented.

11. Pop-ups

In order to improve online user experience, Google doesn’t allow pop-ups to load when a user enters or leaves a landing page. Their definition of ‘pop-up’ is any window, regardless of content, that opens in addition to the original window.

12. Phishing

Google doesn’t allow the promotion of sites that use phishing (an attempt to collect personal information by disguising a website or email to mimic another brand).

13. Double serving

Google frowns upon advertisers running ads across one or more businesses that are triggered by the same or very similar keywords. Having two or more ads appearing in the same search results is known as “double serving”.

14. Information harvesting

Google AdWords doesn’t allow websites whose sole purpose is to collect customer data, to advertise on AdWords. Typical examples are sites that offer free gifts, prize draws, offers or videos. Equally, websites collecting sensitive information such as credit cards or bank details must collect information using a secure (SSL) connection.

15. Editorial guidelines

Google has strict guidelines on the type of language used in ad copy and display URL. For example, the following are not allowed:

  • ‘Click here’ or “Click +1′ as a call to action
  • Expletives
  • Exclamation mark in the ad headline
  • Repeated punctuation or symbols
  • Symbols, numbers and letters that don’t adhere to their true meaning or purpose
  • Non-standard use of superscripts, symbols or characters
  • Bullet points and ellipses
  • Excessive capitalisation (unless referring to a brand name or common acronym)
  • Misspellings
  • Incorrect verb tense or subject-verb agreement
  • Over repetition of words
  • Non-standard spacing of letters, words or symbols (unless a specific brand, product or trademarked term)

16. Trade Sanctions

AdWords ads must not be run that violate government trade sanctions. These will of course vary by country or region.

17. Academic aids

The promotion of academic aids that provide an unfair academic advantage is not allowed in AdWords. Examples of this include:

  • receiving exam questions in advance
  • exam taking services
  • or submitting a paper as your own when it was in fact authored by someone else

18. Unclear billing

Google frowns upon pricing models that are not clear to users. Examples include: checkout processes that do not clearly indicate all charges, or mobile products or services paid for or billed via a mobile phone without the user’s consent. In all cases, full transparency is required.

19. Spam techniques

Google does not tolerate businesses using spam marketing techniques for example:

  • Illegitimate traffic exchange programs
  • Automated ad clicking
  • Template or pre-generated “ready-made” sites intended solely for use with AdSense
  • Business models designed to create fake traffic from affiliate links
  • Bulk email software or services
  • Violation of webmaster guidelines including: keyword stuffing, cloaking, doorway pages and ‘sneaky’ redirects

20. ‘Anti’ and violence ads

Google absolutely forbids ads promoting action against groups of people or organisations distinguished by race, religion, nationality, gender, sexual orientation, age or belief.

In all of the above cases, we recommend checking policies directly with Google as rules and regulations will sometimes vary by country or region.