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How to Stay Off Google’s Naughty List

How to Stay Off Google’s Naughty List

Are you an organization that uses the Google Adwords Grant, or are considering signing up for it in the future? Then you should know that, just like Santa; Google has a naughty list. Unlike Santa’s list, though, it is difficult – if not impossible – to get off of Google’s naughty list.

Let us explain

Google owns and operates the Adwords platform, and that means they get to decide who uses it. They also have very specific rules and guidelines for how you’re allowed to use it – and if you make a mistake, you could end up getting your website or your entire account suspended – a.k.a., put on the Naughty List.

Most of the time, Google only suspends sites and accounts that deserve it. However, it is possible to land on the Naughty List by accident – even when you’re signing up for Adwords for the very first time. Unfortunately, no matter how you end up on the list, it’s always difficult to get back off it. Sometimes you simply can’t.

That’s why, when applying for a Google for Nonprofits Membership or the Adwords Grant, there are important steps to take to make sure you do not end up on the Naughty List.

Familiarize Yourself with Adwords Advertising Policies

One of the best ways to ensure your site isn’t in violation of Google’s rules and guidelines is to be familiar with what those guidelines are. That’s why a good first step is to look over the Advertising Policies for Adwords.

These policies form the backbone for acceptable use of the Adwords network. Violating these policies will generally only result in your ads being disapproved, but in some serious cases Google will suspend your website or your entire Adwords account. If you plan to manage your own Google Grant, we recommend becoming very familiar with the Advertising Policies to make sure you don’t violate them and run into trouble.

Check Your Website Carefully

Another important step in signing up for the Google Grant is checking your website carefully to make sure you haven’t unintentionally violated a policy. Remember, even if you violate a policy by accident, Google can – and sometimes will – permanently suspend your account.

Here are a few common issues we’ve seen that can prevent sites from being approved for the Adwords Grant, or that can lead to account suspensions.

Using the Wrong Website

When you apply for a Google for Nonprofits membership, you will answer some questions about your organization and provide some information. One of the requirements is that you provide a validation token from TechSoup – a long string of letters and numbers that Google uses to verify your nonprofit status.

What Google doesn’t make fully clear, though, is that if you want to apply for the Ad Grant under your Google for Nonprofits membership, your ads must use the same site as the one listed on your TechSoup profile when you completed your initial application.

For organizations with more than one website or that aren’t sure which URL is associated with their Google for Nonprofits account, this can present a problem. If you apply for the Ad Grant using a different site than the one you used in your initial application, Google could disapprove your request. Worse, they might approve it and then suspend your account.

You should note that you can apply to use more than one website under your Ad Grant account, but only after it’s been approved.

Using Redirects and Frames

Another common Adwords mistake is sending users to a page on your site that redirects traffic or includes data from another website. For instance, if your landing page uses a frame to display content from an outside website, this can throw up major red flags for Google.

In some cases Google will simply be unable to reach your website and will disapprove your ads. However, Google could also see your redirects as a violation of the “Circumventing Systems” policy, which almost always results in a full and irreversible suspension of your account.

If you’re not sure if your landing page is redirecting traffic, there are a few simple tests you can perform:

  • Type or paste the URL for the page you want to use in your ads into your address bar and push “Enter.” When the page loads, is the URL exactly the same or did it change? If it’s not the same, your URL is most likely redirecting to another page, which could cause trouble.
  • Use your mouse to right-click on your page. In the box that opens, you should see an option that reads “View Page Source.” However, in some cases you will also see “View Frame Source” underneath. If you see that second option, stop! If you continue, you could end up on the Naughty List.

Putting Bad Links On Your Site

When you put an ad on Adwords, you might not realize that Google isn’t just looking at your website when it approves it. Google’s “spiders” crawl the page you link to, of course – but they also crawl the other pages on your website, and then they crawl all the pages those sites link to as well. That means when you link to a service page from your ad, Google will follow it and crawl every other page it links to as well.

This can be a problem when your site has lots of external links. Perhaps you wrote a blog post a few years ago that linked to another page, or you have a list of sources for some content. If any of those other sites gets compromised or starts doing something malicious, Google can and will disapprove your ads or suspend your website or Adwords account as part of their “Malicious or Unwanted Software Policy.”

This is one of the toughest issues to solve with Adwords. Here are a few reasons we’ve seen websites and accounts get suspended through this policy:

  • Using an outdated WordPress plugin.
  • Linking to pages that previously hosted malware (but were since cleaned up).
  • Linking directly to a Google Maps URL instead of using the Google Maps API for location data.

What to Do if You Get Put on the List

If you do wind up on Google’s Naughty List, you don’t have too many options for how to get off. The exact steps you take will depend on what kind of penalty you have and what got your ads, site, or account suspended in the first place.

For suspended or disapproved ads, you should be able to recover quickly. Simply make the changes to your ads that Google requests and resubmit them for review. Within a day or two, Google representatives should review your ads and determine if they comply with the Advertising Policies. You can also call the Adwords Help Center for guidance and advice.

If your website is suspended – such as for violating the Malicious Software policy – it can be harder to get running again. You will first need to make sure your website is free of any malware or malicious programs, and that all your code and links comply with Google’s site guidelines. This review and cleanup process can take a while. Once you’re done, Google will manually review your site and determine if it can show ads again.

Finally, if your Adwords account gets suspended, your only choice is to submit an appeal and hope for the best. Google rarely grants reversals in the case of suspended accounts. It is very possible you will be locked out of Adwords, leaving you unable to use any of your $10,000 per month credit on Adwords ever again.

Avoid Suspensions By Working With an Experienced Agency

Another way to avoid getting put on the Naughty List is to work with RankMonsters. We’re an experienced online advertising and marketing agency, and we’ve helped dozens of agencies like yours apply for and manage the Ad Grant. Unlike many agencies and web design companies that offer grant management as a service, we have years of experience with Adwords and the Ad Grant and the results to show for it.

How We Can Help

To get started with RankMonsters, sign up today and let us apply for the grant on your behalf as a free service. There is no obligation for management packages, even if you get approved. We simply want to help organizations utilize the amazing opportunity the Ad Grant provides. If you have questions or want to learn more, get in touch!

Why Your Organization Should Work with a Google Certified Partner

Why Your Organization Should Work with a Google Certified Partner

Google Adwords is a great way to raise awareness for your organization, but it can be hard to get the most out of online advertising unless you have years of experience. Because of this, many organizations trust online advertising agencies to manage their Adwords accounts. How do you know you’re working with an agency that can bring you results?

 

One option is to work with a Google Certified Partner. Certified Partners are agencies that have met requirements set by Google to ensure the quality of their services and results. There are several reasons you may want to consider working with a Certified Partner agency for your online advertising.

What Is an Adwords Certified Partner?

Google Certified Partner agency must meet the following requirements:

  • Must have at least one account manager who has passed two or more Google Certification exams.
  • They need to have managed a minimum Adwords spend of $10,000 over the last 90 days.
  • They must have actively managed campaigns for 60 out of the last 90 days.

This ensures that your Adwords agency is experienced and knowledgeable about managing Adwords accounts.

In addition, Google also monitors the accounts of Certified Partners to ensure they meet the best practices for Adwords accounts. If an agency doesn’t follow these best practices, their certification can be revoked. So you know a certified agency follows them. These best practices ensure you get a good return on your advertising budget and that your ads are managed properly.

Certified Partners Have a Wide Knowledge Base

With knowledge of best practices, Google Certified Partner agencies are also well-versed in all the features and tools Adwords offers to boost campaign performance. This includes the use of features and techniques; like negative keywords, ad extensions, keyword match types, ad testing, and ad scheduling.

Along with how to use these tools, Certified Partners also understand when (and when not) to use them. For example, nonprofit clients who advertise through the Google Adwords Grant won’t need to use negative keywords or match types the same way a regular business will. Knowing the differences between account types and how those differences affect your campaign needs is important, and Certified Partners bring that experience from the start.

Certification Assures Customer Service

When an agency applies to become a Google Certified Partner, they submit all of their account data to Google for review. Only agencies with high overall performance and quality metrics are allowed to become Certified Partners. Some of the metrics Google reviews are:

  • Account-level Quality Scores  Quality Score is a metric designed by Google to measure the overall performance of ads and keywords. Higher quality scores earn advertisements lower costs per click (CPC) and better visibility. Google reviews the quality scores of all accounts an agency manages when reviewing them for Certified Partner status.
  • Conversion Rates – For accounts with goals and conversions set up, Google monitors conversion rates to judge the quality of traffic an agency sends to their clients’ sites. Higher conversion rates indicate higher quality and better performance.
  • Client Retention – If an agency has high client churn or turnover, this can be an indicator they aren’t providing the service that clients want. Google looks at client retention rates to see how well an agency performs with clients overall.

Get Access to New Features

Another benefit of working with a Certified Partner agency is they have access to beta features which non-certified agencies cannot use. Sometimes these beta features are released to Certified Partners more than a year before they are released to the general public.

Google also monitors Certified Partner accounts using these tools and features to ensure they are used to maximize ROI and performance. By monitoring the ways Certified Partners test and use tools; Google gets data on how to improve their offerings and ensures their partner agencies are helping clients succeed.

When you work with a Certified Partner agency, your account gets access to all of these beta features as well. That means you won’t be left behind by competitors who have access to these new tools. You’ll get a concrete advantage over the competitors who don’t.

Receive Help Directly from Google

Once a Certified Partner agency reaches a certain total account spend, they get access to their own Google Representatives who can help resolve issues and provide answers to questions. This means you won’t have to wait in line to hear back from Google when you have a problem – your agency can simply contact their Google Rep and get answers fast.

In addition, Google gives Certified Partners access to training and tools that other Adwords customers don’t receive. You will find that in many cases Google Reps even help Certified Partner agencies with optimization advice and tips to ensure accounts are performing at their best. Google invests heavily in ensuring Certified Partners provide the best Adwords experience possible. This in turn helps the agencies bring in more clients and provide great service.

Work with a Certified Partner Agency Today

If you want to ensure your online advertising succeeds, give RankMonsters a call. As a Google Certified Partner, we have the experience, tools, and knowledge to create and manage a successful online advertising campaign. Call (405) 605-8218 today, or visit us on Facebook to get more tips for succeeding online.