After executing numerous Google campaigns, I’ve learned to get the ad copy right the first time.
So… what does that mean?
It means that I try to get ads approved the moment I upload them.
I understand exactly how frustrating it is trying to get approval from your client and then being slapped with disapproval from Google (and let’s not forget about that darn back-and-forth communication). This is made worse when you’re rushing to launch a campaign.
To get your Google AdWords ads approved in the first attempt, here are some common mistakes you should avoid as well as solutions to deals with these issues.
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First, we’ll look at editorial mistakes.
These mistakes are easily detectable.
If you’ve run a few campaigns, you should know from the start and immediately avoid writing certain phrases and words in a certain way.
Here are the top 3 editorial mistakes that are problematic and yet easily fixable:
Most people love to highlight their FREE gift or offer during promotions.
Well, I understand how people will want to shout this key benefit in their ad copy. But do not, I repeat, do not yell at your customers.
FREE is just plain rude. Where you are shouting at your customers literally.
And this is why FREE will cause Google to disapprove your ads. Other excessive and incorrect capitalization examples include FLOWERS, FlOwErS and F.L.O.W.E.R.S.
To fix this, only capitalize words that are meant to be capitalized.
- Brands: HP, LG, DHL, HBO
- Countries: USA, UK, EU, AU
- Title Case (capitalizing the first letter of each word): acceptable by Google & highly recommended too (just look at the ads on the first page of search results)
If you have too many exclamation marks (!) in your ad, Google will disapprove it.
The same applies to other repeated punctuation or symbols as well as those that are not used correctly. For instance, the following will cause your Google ads to be disapproved:
- [email protected]
Just ensure that your ads are understandable.
- 5* Hotel/Restaurant: acceptable & understood by almost everyone
- 24/7: easily understood as a service that is always available
- &: do use ‘&’ to replace ‘and’ when possible (save characters so you can squeeze more words)
Some of your ads may be disapproved due to the use of trademarks in ad copy.
The trademark policy prevents unauthorized advertisers from using a company’s trademarks.
Google abides by local trademark laws. Hence, if a trademark owner complains to Google, Google may enforce restrictions on the use of these owners’ trademarks. This means that unauthorized advertisers, who use a company’s trademarks in their ad copy, will get their ads disapproved.
You can solve this by seeking authorization from the trademark owner. Bear in mind that this might take a while.
Thus, if you’re in a rush and want a faster solution, you can either omit the trademarked terms entirely or replace with another suitable phrase or word.
Another problematic editorial issue is exceeding the character limit. However, you’ll be prompted by Google before you upload the ad (both in the Google Ads platform and AdWords Editor). Simply fix this by cutting down unnecessary words and abbreviating when appropriate to shorten your copy so you can upload the ads.
Do check the site that you’re pointing your ads too.
Sometimes, the error lies in the destination or final URL (and not the ad copy).
Not Working: Wrong URL, Errors etc.
Always double check the URL.
Is it spelled correctly? Is it pointing to the right page?
Also, do ensure that the site is functioning. There shouldn’t be any 403 Forbidden or 404 Not Found errors. The site shouldn’t be under construction either.
I understand how some businesses have country-specific websites (so language, currency, shipping and tax are easier) but Google requires websites to be globally accessible.
The site needs to work in all locations, accessible from anywhere in the world. It cannot be accessible from one country only.
Therefore, to avoid your ads from being disapproved by Google, you should make your website accessible from all locations.
When you run marketing campaigns, you should send your US campaign to your US website (that is accessible from all locations) and your UK campaign to your UK website (that is accessible from all locations). In other words, you should organize your marketing campaigns by countries and send visitors to the corresponding country-specific website.
You can also include a pop-up to direct visitors to the correct country-specific site should a US visitor accidentally lands on the UK site.
Such tactics will ensure that you send visitors to the correct country-specific site while abiding Google’s policy of having globally accessible websites.
Same Top-Level Domain
Google does not allow destination mismatch.
Also, each ad group has to use the same domain.
The ‘/page’ doesn’t have to be the same but the ‘www.nicolecw.com’ needs to.
Actually, this shouldn’t be a major problem.
Google AdWords is using Final URL now and you can enter the path text individually for Google Search. Since you won’t be able to edit the domain part, your Display URL would definitely match Final URL.
The only issue is using the same domain for each ad group. Note this down somewhere or make it a habit to create a new campaign or ad group when you’re using a new domain.
3. Sensitive Products, Services & Industries
Some products, services and industries are legally or culturally sensitive and Google respects that.
Therefore, there might be limitations when running ads for these types of sensitive products, services and industries. Advertisers might also need to meet additional requirements before their ads are eligible to run.
Here are some basic but crucial information about the common sensitive categories:
Every country has their own alcohol laws. Some countries are strict in certain areas and lenient in others.
Thus, you’ll need to check if your target country allows advertising of alcohol sale and inclusion of alcohol information in ads.
Obviously, you shouldn’t target people below the legal drinking age.
The same applies to gambling. Where some countries are allowed to advertise gambling.
Do check the list of restricted countries and ensure that your target country isn’t listed there.
In addition, you also need to apply for a gambling certificate to promote gambling.
Google is quite strict about this, stating that ad formats are limited and that you can’t promote gambling with Gmail ads and shopping ads.
Healthcare and Medicines
Healthcare and medicines is another sensitive category.
Note that some healthcare-related content cannot be advertised at all while others can be advertised if the advertiser is certified with Google and targets only approved countries.
Hence, do check the list of approved countries as well as the type of healthcare-related content that is allowed. Whether you’re advertising prescription drugs, clinical trial recruitment, HIV home tests, abortion or birth control, each one has a different list of approved/restricted countries.
In addition, do check whether you need to be certified with Google. For instance, pharmaceutical manufacturers and online pharmacies must be certified before they can serve ads.
Google also has a list of restricted drug terms that cannot be used in ad text, landing pages or keywords for most countries.
Other sensitive categories include
- Adult content
- Counterfeit goods
- Dangerous products or services
- Financial products and services
Last but not least, the content of your ad copy and the way you write it might cause Google to flag them as disapproved.
These are some reasons that will lead Google to disapprove your ads:
Similar to sensitive products, services and industries, Google will not tolerate inappropriate content.
- Discrimination: racism, sexism
- Shocking: gore, obscene or profane language
- Insensitive: profit from a tragic event
- Animal Cruelty
So just respect everyone and avoid offending anyone in your ad copy. Write your copy such that you’re talking to another person. And talk to them the way you want others to talk to you.
Whether you’re advertising your products and services or advertising on behalf of your clients, I feel that you need to abide by a code of ethics. Meaning that your ad should be ethical.
Customers shouldn’t be misled by your ads. Your ads need to be clear and honest without the intention to deceive.
Your ad might violate the misrepresentation policy if it contains
- Missing Information: deliberately hiding or failing to disclose important information
- Unavailable Offers: promising an offer that isn’t found on the landing page (eg. promoting a deal that is no longer active, promoting a price that is inaccurate)
- Misleading Content: false claims (eg. miracle cures, get rich quick)
Double check your ad copy. Make sure that you’re not misleading your customers. Don’t omit any information or make any false statements.
If your ads guarantee results, you need to include a visible disclaimer on your landing page that there is no guarantee and that results can vary.
For example, testimonials might state how happy your customers are with your product and solution but you need to include a disclaimer near these testimonials in a legible font of readable size.
5. Abide By Your Local Laws
You also need to comply with the local laws for any country you’re targeting.
Google has created a list of country-specific legal requirements, where you can select your target country to see what’s allowed and what’s not.
On top of the country-specific legal requirements, it’s better that you research the various policies. Most policies will apply to all ads, regardless of the target country. Including trademarks, URL not working and misrepresentation.
Bonus Tip: Upload Your Ads
If you’re a freelancer or working in an agency or as long as you’re crafting the ad copy for someone else, you can upload the ads on Google first. Get the ads approved then tell your client and get their approval.
This way, you’ll cut down on back-and-forth communication with your client and avoid postponing your campaign launch date.
When you upload the ads on Google, you can also check the reason for disapproval. This is the fastest way to find out why your ads are disapproved.
Besides looking at the status column, you can also look at the policy details column for more information about why your ad is disapproved. Simply modify the columns to include this policy details column.
Now It’s Your Turn
So now that you have a better understanding of the various disapproval reasons, try to avoid them.
Also, note that these are just some reasons. Google has many more reasons for disapproval so do read through the policies when you have the time.
Did you face any difficulties when trying to get your ads approved?