There’s been a big uproar on the web lately about Google’s latest sweep in which they appear to have banned thousands of Google Adwords accounts algorithmically. It looks like plenty of people have been complaining about the ban lately.
Ordinarily I’d say good riddens to bad rubbish, but it appears that I, too am one of the people who have been banned.
I received the same stock email last week as everybody else explaining to me that my Adwords account had been banned for a violation of Google’s TOS.
While the form letter accuses me of deceptive ad practices, I can assure you that I have done no such thing. In fact, I haven’t even run an ad in the last couple of months. It seems pretty odd that I’d be banned over ads that haven’t run in a long time right?
I’ve emailed Google 3 separate times asking for clarification, apologizing for anything I may have unknowingly done, and asked how to get my account re-enabled. Sadly, all I’ve gotten back is another form letter explaining that I may have violated the Adwords TOS and telling me to enjoy my lifetime ban.
So what did I do? Since Google wouldn’t tell me, I did some digging on my own. Having once been a Google quality rater, and having manged multiple Adwords accounts in the past, I have plenty of insight into how the process works.
From what I can gather, my ban isn’t related to ads I’ve been running at all. It seems to be related to my usage of Adwords for SEO keyword research.
Like most SEOs out there, I use Adwords all the time to create ad groups for SEO research. It’s the only accurate way one has of gauging what people are paying to bid on terms, how much competition there is out there, or what your website’s quality score is for a specific term. All of this information is extremely useful in both SEO strategy and in monetizing natural search traffic. I’ve used it at both the personal and the fortune 500 company level. It works great.
What I didn’t realize at first though, is that every time I create an ad group quickly and give it some random landing page (I’ve used example.com a few times) that it actually goes to editorial for them to review. Even though I never spent $0.01 on the ads, many of them were still reviewed by humans and flagged as pretty bad. After all, I wasn’t concerned with the ad text or landing page, simply the cost for the keywords.
A few times I was even seeing what it would cost a site to bid on some unrelated terms that they wanted to attempt to capture. Before creating new content for the site, I had used Adwords to get a baseline quality score and bid cost. The hope was that by creating the new relevant content, I could re-visit this data in a few months and show the client that the site was indeed now more relevant, and the pay per click cost had been lowered.
Not anymore though. It looks like Google’s attempt to remove the “make money with google” and “acai” style ads have caught legit advertisers as well – and there’s little to no recourse that we can take to solve the problem. Sure, I can create a new Adwords account, but it’s not certain if Google has tied the ban to my physical address, billing information, or any other plethora of data that they know about me. I simply haven’t tried yet. I’d rather have my main account that I use for everything else also be my Adwords account.
It gets even more complicated now that Adwords has been linked with Analytics and Adsense accounts as well. There’s really no telling if this ban could extend to those accounts in the future.
Google’s Not Talking.
What I’d really like is some sort of response from Google. If they don’t want me using Adwords for keyword research, that’s fine, just tell me. But please don’t accuse me of having misleading ads – I haven’t done that.
No algorithm is foolproof, including those written by Google. I’d be shocked if there was really no way to undo an Adwords ban. I’m hoping that the Google employees are just backlogged and haven’t had time to give me a personalized reply yet. Hurry up Google, I’m waiting.
UPDATE: Google Responds:
Google has responded with the following:
As mentioned in our previous email, your Google AdWords account has been
suspended due to multiple LPQ violations. We are unable to revoke your
account suspension, and we will not accept advertisements from you in the
Please note that our support team is unable to help you with this issue,
and we ask that you do not contact them about this matter. If you need
more information about our content policy guidelines, please visit
As noted in our Terms and Conditions, Google reserves the right to
terminate advertisements for any reason. To view our Terms and Conditions,
please visit https://adwords.google.com/select/tsandcsfinder.
We appreciate your cooperation.
basically, they won’t tell me what I did wrong, and there’s no way I can appeal the suspension. They basically told me to go fuck myself and stop emailing them. That’s some top notch customer support.