If you’re like many businesses, you rely on Google ads to generate leads and sales for your business. Therefore, it can be disheartening to log into your account and find one or multiple ads were rejected.
Every day thousands of ads are rejected by Google Ads for various reasons. In 2018 2.3 billion ads were taken down for violating Google Ads policy.
A number of the ads rejected were for industries that they no longer allowed to advertise on Google, such as bail bonds and ticket resellers.
Some of these companies were also among the over one million accounts that Google terminated over violations.
The majority of rejected ads, however, were for smaller policy issues that many advertisers were not even aware of.
Many business owners think the worst when they receive a notice that one of their ads have been rejected.
I’ve received calls or emails from clients in a panic because they received a notice about an ad being disapproved. They're concerned that I’ve put their account at risk. That they’ll be banned from Google.
The simple fact is, that it can be the simplest of things to get an ad rejected. And except in the rarest of circumstances, it has almost no effect on your account overall
The first thing to do when receiving a notice is to not panic.
The next step is to either rectify the problem by editing the ad or contacting Google if you think the disapproval was unjustified.
Google has done a better job of alerting you to a problem with your ad even before you save the ad. For example, if you go over in the number of characters allowed your ad can’t be saved until corrected.
Most Common Reasons Your Google Ads Were Rejected
You should understand why your ad was rejected so you can understand how to correct it. After all, if your ad isn’t running, then your prospects aren't seeing it.
Here are some reasons for Google Adwords disapproval and what to do.
Site destination not working. Of all the types of rejections, this is probably the most common.
It could be that your site is experiencing a problem or maybe the url changed because of a site redesign. If your site is down for some reason, then get this corrected before going on.
And if the url has changed, then update the ad.
Once you edit the ad and the url is working you should be approved.
Punctuation and symbols: Google is surprisingly like your old English teacher. They worry about punctuation with your ads.
Exclamation points are allowed in the copy of your ad, but not in the headlines. And only a single exclamation point can be used. Using more than that is prohibited.
Other missteps with your punctuation can cause your ad to be rejected. For example if you accidentally type in a second period your ad could eventually be flagged.
Symbols also can't be used in ads. So you can't use @home or put in bullet points.
Using certain brand names in the ad, sometimes by accident. While you can bid on most major brand names, that doesn’t mean you can use their name in your ad.
For example, I can’t put Google Ads in the text, even though I’m certified by them for their advertising platform. I can only use Ads or their older version AdWords.
Sometimes you can include a phrase in your ad that you don’t realize is even trademarked.
You might even get a warning that your ad is limited because of this. That usually means the trademark applies to other countries. If you’re getting impressions for that ad, then you should be all right.
If you’re an affiliate for a company whose name is trademarked, you can often run ads with the company name in it, provided you get the proper paperwork from the company.
Contact Google and they’ll let you know what documentation you’ll need.
Your USING WORDS IN ALL CAPS. This is an old trick from direct marketing. To make certain words stand out by doing them all in capital letters. It's an effective approach, but Google doesn't allow it. So, if you type in the word FREE in all caps, your ad will be rejected.
Some products can’t be advertised even by accident. Alcohol, tobacco, and firearms are the most prominent.
Most medications are prohibited, as well. What can happen, however, is that some ads that are unrelated to these industries are accidentally banned.
I worked with a veterinarian clinic and often ads were initially rejected because it was something you couldn’t advertise for humans. Yet, in the context they were being used they were eligible. The ads would get ultimately approved.
If this happens and you think it’s a mistake,call Google and ask them to review it. In every case, my ads for the pet clinicwere approved once reviewed by a real person.
If you’re an online pharmacy, pharmaceutical manufacture, or others looking to use prescription drug terms in ad text or landing pages then you need to be certified by Google first. Here is the link to the application.
Your landing page is lacking needed information. Tech companies were especially hard hit a few years ago when many of their sites being banned. because their sites didn't contain certain information.
It wasn’t that they were necessarily taking advantage of people (although some were).
Instead, they were lacking things that Google required such as pricing information, mailing address, etc.
There are other industries, such as financial institutions, that also have specific requirements. You can read Google Ads policies for financial institutions here.
You make an unsubstantiated claim in your ad. Saying it’s the best or the number 1 rated isn’t going to pass unless you have something on the page (or a link) showing data from a third party.
There are also restrictions on claims you can make to weight loss or that imply quick rich schemes. These could even get you banned eventually.
The main thing to remember is to have proof of what your claiming on your landing page and in a prominent location.
Having more than one site targeted in an Ad Group. This is common if you’re running a campaign and then decide to use a landing page that has a different domain name.
Often you see this when using a third-party landing page creators, such as Hubspot. Your regular url is widget.com, but now the new landing page goes by go.widget.com.
You can’t simply pause the old ad and start the new one. You’ll have to create a new ad group with the new web address in it and have no trace of the old ad.
This is not to say you can’t have different urls in the ad from the same domain. Having one ad go to widget.com and another go to widget.com/landing page is all right.
Taking advantage of natural disasters. You can’t create ads that attempt to capitalize on natural disasters, wars or other tragedies. Today you can't mention COVID-19 in your ad or anything related to virus.
Clickbait. This is when you incorporate words specifically designed to get you to click on your ad, such as click here.
You can use a call to actions such as call today or contact us.
If your ad was rejected for this simply edit the text and resubmit the ad.
Malicious Software. Of the warnings you can receive about your Google Ads, this is the most serious. And the most difficult to rectify.
This warning relates to links or coding onyour site. Most often it’s a link to a questionable site.
Finding the cause of the problem is often like searching for a needle in a haystack.
When I’ve been approached by clients who’ve had this problem, they had to get their tech people involved or bring in tech people to thoroughly review their site. Even when it seems as if the problem has been resolved, you get a new message that the problem still exists.
Contacting Google about this problem is often frustrating as they often can’t pinpoint the specific problem.
The best advice I can offer here is to have your webmaster thoroughly review the code of the site and look for anything that looks suspicious. If they can’t find a solution, then bring in a specialist.
Until you can get the problem resolved, then most likely none of your ads will be running.
SH!T Happens There are also going to be times when your ad disapproved inadvertently or because of technical issues at Google.
For example you'll be disapproved because of a trademark issue in another country. Even though your ad doesn't even run there.
Often you can just contact Google and they'll manually review it. In a few days your ads should be running again. If not, then you need to review the problem more carefully.
What About Display Ads
Many of these reasons for rejection also apply to display ads.
There is one that is unique to the display network.
Unidentified business. This one is specifically related to Google display and it’s a more subjective reason than most.
What Google is saying is that people can’t identify your business from the ad. They want your name in the ad or your logo. Yet, I’ve seen the exact same ad be approved as the one that was rejected. If rejected either edit the graphics or call and see if you can get the current one approved.
What About Microsoft Ad (Bing Ads) - Do They Reject Ads?
Many of these same reasons can get your ad rejected on Microsoft (formerly known as Bing), as well. In 2016 they rejected 130 million ads, over half of which were for companies pretending to be tech support companies. It's a practice Google also doesn't allow on AdWords.
How To Fix Disapproved Google Ads During COVID-19
I've already mentioned that the easy solution is often to edit the disapproved ad and resubmit it.
In some cases you'll have to contact Google Ads to get the issue resolved. That wasn't always easy during regular times, but during the current pandemic its even more difficult. Google is working with a small crew and often they're not available.
In some cases you'll see a button to have the ads reviewed provided you've taken some step. I click this even if I haven't edited the ad, believing I wasn't at fault.
Another way to get help with disapproved ads is to go to their help forum.
You can ask your question there and hopefully get some assistance.
Mistakes Happen with Google Ads That Get Through
Although Google disapproves so many ads, mistakes still happen. Often, they are flagged, but misspelled words do get into ads. Make sure to carefully review your ads before hitting save. A poorly written ad could be just as damaging as a disapproved ad. Especially with a misspelled word.
I’ve also seen ads that were running despite the site being down. Or that go to a url that recently changed and now goes to a 404 error page. If you're getting your site redesigned, make sure the urls haven't been changed.
Google Ads is one of the best ways to market most businesses. Don't let a rejected ad cause you to miss out on potential business. And don't lose sleep if its something minor and only impacts an ad or two.