My brief, unhappy experience with Google Adwords

Game Devil by Nicubunu

GAME OVER

To broaden my skill set I wanted to learn how to advertise with Google Adwords. I had been following a course from Armand Morin and wanted to put what I learned in practice. So, I set up an account with one of those free $75 coupons. It was not a happy experience. I ended up with a permanently suspended account even though no ads ever ran (zero impressions, zero clicks).

Perhaps I was just plain stupid in deciding to advertise via my Clickbank affiliate link. I had heard that most affiliates had abandoned Google PPC due to the strict quality guidelines and that it was very hard to get an ad approved. But I didn’t have a suitable landing page to advertise. And for my learning purposes, if none of my ads were approved I could live with that. Just the exercise in setting up a campaign would be useful. Apparently this was a fatal mistake.

I choose two products from Clickbank that were on topics I knew something about. One on genealogy and the other for a wordpress plugin. I spent time with both landing pages and looked for things Google would look for, links to other pages, terms of use etc. After that review I researched keywords and set up two campaigns each with two ad groups focusing on different keywords. The ad groups for the wordpress plugin came back with a quality score of 1 so I immediately paused those ad groups as Google obviously didn’t like something about the ad or the website. I let the other ad groups for the genealogy website “run” and logged out.

Less than 24 hours later I got an email from Google that my account was permanently suspended for repeated violations (repeated?). I logged back in and sure enough it was suspended for landing page violations, but nothing had run, zero impressions and zero clicks. Turns out I overlooked the “egregious” (not my words) exit popup on the WordPress plugin website. I’m not sure why pausing the ad groups wasn’t sufficient. So, I contacted the Google Adwords sales rep who had sent me a couple of voicemails when I opened the account. He had me delete the campaign with the offending paused ad groups. He then told me my account would be released in a day or so.

That was a month ago. I have since traded several emails with Jason (who quite charmingly continues to resend the “intro” email I first got). Per Jason he sent to Google HQ a request to have my account reinstated as he saw nothing wrong with the remaining campaign. Several follows up later he gives me a phone number to follow up with. I call it and I get a receptionist who won’t transfer me to anyone but sales reps. I send a request for reconsideration via the contact us link and I get a canned, unhelpful email that says due to my repeated (there is that word again) violations my account has been permanently suspended. There is apparently no recourse.

So apparently GAME OVER, even though for me, the game never started. I checked the bat and never swung. I hesitated writing this post, because I really don’t want to be a whiner, but seriously: one strike and you’re out? Even felons in California get three strikes.

I can’t help but wonder about all those small business advertisers Google is aggressively marketing PPC to. What happens if a web developer puts an exit popup on their site and the small business is using PPC? Will Google permanently suspend them too? Or perhaps there will be more leeway for this more desirable customer?

I may never know. Bing and Facebook advertising is looking a lot more attractive now.

About the Author Kathy Alice

Kathy Alice Brown is a traffic and conversion expert specializing in SEO, Copywriting and Facebook Ad Campaigns. In her spare time she loves to get outside.

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8 comments
Andrew Jecklin says June 27, 2011

Aha! So I am not the only one. While that isn’t a relief, it is good to know of another instance. Pretty much the exact same scenario; however, my ad was from a few YEARS ago, ran for a few days, spent less than $10, and had sat paused since then (we’re talking yrs). Like you, it was a test to get a feel for Adwords. I don’t know if deleting it would have made a difference. I just paused it and forgot about it.

All of this while spending on average $65/month running adwords for my real-life brick and mortar business with “good” quality.

My interaction was equally as frustrating, with the canned responses; however, Pooja did move away from the script on occasion. He was polite and the final email he did come across as truly sorry. I have no hard feelings towards him.

From the sound of it, my experience played out around the same time as yours. Fortunately, I do well in organic search and will focus my efforts there.

Take care!

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Kathy Alice says June 27, 2011

Thanks Andrew for posting your experience. After I wrote, I visited some forums where others had posted similar experiences. Some deserved to get banned, but others, including a CPA that just wanted to advertise his business, were rather baffled by Google’s shutting down their account.

I understand that Google wants to weed out the “spammy” sites and keep the shysters out of the system. But the pendulum seems to have swung too far and taken many innocent or naive prisoners. Yep, it’s back to organic …

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Fero says July 7, 2011

It happened to me last week. No warning. No explanation. It was my first campaign.
Now i am in touch with a google by emails and phone. But I think, it is lost.

Advice: don’t promote clickbank products with a google.

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Kathy Alice says July 8, 2011

Agreed. Because Google will refuse to re-enable your account until you “fix” the website in question. So that makes promoting websites you don’t own a risky via AdWords.

I mentioned in my post that my account was suspended due to an exit popup on the site I was “intending” to promote (I never ran the ads because the quality scores were too low). After some follow up with Google, turns out they also classified the site as a “get rich quick” site which is a bit of stretch. The sales page is a little hypey but it’s a wordpress plugin not a “make money” site. So they do take quite a bit of liberty in how they apply their policies which makes their behavior rather unpredictable.

Sorry you got banned/suspended Fero, but you have plenty of company.

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Sammy da Bull says November 30, 2011

Mine was for linking to a FB Page (I think):

http://on.fb.me/soxCAj

I used them for other stuff…Im guttered, cos I dont know what ive done wrong.

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Kathy Alice says November 30, 2011

Sorry to hear that. A Facebook page really?

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Sebastian says January 6, 2014

I had a very similar experience to you, I read the conditions for advertisers including the part on egregious violations and started by testing some keywords with low click bids and a small daily maximum spend (although no that small if it had reached max every day for a year – not for the size of business I have). I wrote one ad which was disapproved but corrected the information that was incorrect and the second ad got approved. less than 2 days later my account was suspended for serious violations. I finally after several tortuous emails got one of the adwords (people, maybe?) to acknowledge that yes it was an egregious violation and that the violation was phishing. My webmaster and host did several checks on the site and it had a completely clean bill of health. My requests for an exact URL where they found suspicious content have so far been ignored. I run a small photographic business and we specialise in analogue Silver gelatin and alternative processes. I have a community darkroom which I support through the business and provide a host of alt process and and darkroom courses as well as my own lab services. There are a lot of much bigger players and I wanted to look for specific searches that other competitors hadn’t picked up. I’ve had success with google for awareness and business before but this was my first and also brief foray into the realm of adwords. According to the forums this happens regularly and consistently with small business owners who are not fraudsters or traffickers of pornography in any sense. Personally I think Google are committing egregious violations of our right to compete with bigger players.

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Kathy Alice says January 30, 2014

Sorry to hear that this happened to you. Try using Bing Ads, you won’t get as much traffic but they are much more willing to help you.

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