Google AdWords

When I wrote the blogpost “How To Make Money Online With AdWords Without A Website” I got few comments and emails about whether Google AdWords allows direct linking.

That is, are we allowed to link directly to advertisers (using our affiliate URLs) from Google AdWords ads? In a word, Yes! But wait, they do have some advertising policies that every advertisers are supposed to follow.

According to Google,

Advertising should provide a positive experience to users. Showing users the right ads at the right time can truly enhance a user’s experience.

Google AdWords Affiliate Marketing Policies

First things first. I’m going to assume that you are a blogger and also an affiliate marketer.

Affiliate marketing is NOT dead on Google AdWords yet!

Google’s Affiliate Auction Policy

Google’s affiliate policy is that they will display only “one ad per search query for advertisers sharing the same top-level domain in the display URL.”

web hosting - Google Search

It means that if you’re an affiliate marketer and is promoting, let’s say GoDaddy.com, then your ad won’t be shown since ‘GoDaddy’ is a trademark owned by GoDaddy.com and they run the ads for almost everything related to domain names and web hosting.

For example,

godaddy coupon - Google Search

If you’re promoting GoDaddy Web Hosting (targeting the keyword ‘GoDaddy Coupon”) and are linking directly to GoDaddy.com from Google AdWords using your affiliate URL (e.g. http://www.godaddy.com/ref=12345) as the destination URL then according to Google the following URLs are equivalent:

  • http://www.godaddy.com/ref=12345
  • http://godaddy.com/ref=12345
  • http://hosting.godaddy.com/ref=12345
  • http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/ref=12345
  • http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/ref=54321

And the following URLs are considered distinct as they’re all different top-level domains:

  • http://www.godaddy.com/ref=12345
  • http://www.godaddy.co.uk/ref=12345

Also, make sure that your landing page is not an exact/identical copy of another advertiser’s landing page.

Google won’t show multiple ads for identical or similar landing pages at the same time; if another advertiser’s ad leads to a landing page that’s similar to yours, and his keyword has a higher Ad Rank, his ad will show instead of yours.

Google’s Display URL Policy

In Google AdWords, the display URL (up to 35 characters) is the website address that’s displayed in your ad (i.e. the visible URL). AdWords’ display URL policy is that the domain of your display URL must match the final landing page (i.e. the web page a user sees after all redirects).

  • Your AdWords display URL must accurately reflect the URL of your final landing page URL.
  • You have to show the full domain name (example.blogger.com or example.wordpress.com) as the display URL when you are hosting your landing page on a publishing platform like blogger.com or wordpress.com.

For example,

If your destination URL is http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/ref=12345 and the final landing page URL is http://www.godaddy.com/hosting/web-hosting.aspx then your display URL must be “godaddy.com” or “www.godaddy.com”.

Google’s Destination URL Policy

In Google AdWords, the destination URL is the URL that loads when a user clicks on your ad. Don’t get confused with landing page URL which is the final page a user sees after all redirects. If your destination URL doesn’t redirect to another URL then both the destination URL and the landing page URL are the same.

Google’s destination URL policy is that your landing page shouldn’t lead to an error page or an under construction page. Also, it must not lead to an email address or a file (image, audio, video, PDF documents etc.)

  • You have to use the same domain name in your display URL and destination URL. That is, you can’t promote example.com by showing example.net as the display URL.
  • Your domain extension in the display URL and the destination URL must be the same.

Google’s Landing Page Experience

In Google AdWords, the landing page experience refers to user experience. You can improve your Quality Score by improving the landing page experience.

The Quality Score is Google’s measurement of “how relevant your ads, keywords, and landing page are to a person seeing your ad”.

You can improve your Quality Score by writing relevant ads, creating original content and with easy website navigation.

Read: Bing Ads vs. Google AdWords: 10 Features Unique To Bing Ads

Google AdWords Advertising: What’s Allowed, What’s Not

Here are the Google AdWords policies and guidelines every digital marketer should know.

  • All AdWords ads should be accurate, truthful and must not be misleading.
  • All advertising claims (coupons, special offers etc.) must be up-to-date and must match with the content of your website.
  • Your ad text must be clear, relevant, accurate and the targeted keywords must match with the content on the landing page.
  • Google AdWords doesn’t allow ad text with incorrect grammar (wrong words or verb tense) or misspellings (e.g. “hear” instead of “here”) with certain exceptions like “nite” instead of “night”, “info” instead of “information” etc.
  • You’re not allowed to give incentives in exchange for a click (e.g. offering a freebie something in exchange for a Google +1).
  • If you’re showing image ads then it must comply with Google’s text ad policies and should also comply with AdWords’ image ad policies.
  • If you are into financial services (e.g. payday loans) then your ad must comply with special policies as Google has certain guidelines with respect to promotion of financial services.
  • Google doesn’t allow ad texts with excessive capitalization unless it’s a standard variation (e.g. SONY, UK, 1-800-MICROSOFT, MSFT, etc.)
  • Google AdWords doesn’t allow ads that imply an affiliation, partnership, or any special relationship with advertisers.
  • You’re not allowed to use trademarks on your ad texts without prior consent from trademark owners.
  • You can bid on your competitor’s brand names.
  • Google AdWords doesn’t allow ads that promotes doorway pages.
  • You’re not allowed to advertise the same website or business from across multiple accounts targeting the same or similar keywords.
  • You are not allowed to host copyrighted material on your website unless you are authorized to do so.
  • Google AdWords doesn’t allow the promotion of parked domains (a domain monetized with only ads) or websites that are created for the sole purpose of showing ads. (i.e. AdSense AdWords Arbitrage is a strict no no).

Read: Google Webmaster & SEO Guidelines: Everything You Need To Know

Google AdWords Ad Approval Process

When you create an AdWords campaign it goes through an ad approval process. Each ad copy (ad text, keywords, landing page) is reviewed individually by Google.

If they find an issue, you will be notified with a possible reason for ad disapproval. Every time you create or modify an ad copy it will be reviewed.

Google says they usually approve or deny the ad within 3 business days. Usually, text ads targeting Google network are approved quickly (within hours or sometimes instantly as they’re automated) and image ads usually take longer since they are displayed on Google’s partner network and publisher websites.

Different  AdWords Ad Status Messages

Under review – Your ad is being reviewed and it won’t show unless it’s approved.

Eligible – Your ad is still being reviewed, but it can show on certain Google search result pages.

Disapproved – Your ads won’t show as it violates AdWords policy.

Approved (adult) – Your ad is approved, but it can only show in certain countries and sites where adult content is allowed.

Approved (non-family) – Your ad is approved, but it won’t perform as expected due to a policy restriction such as trademarks.

Approved (limited) – Your ad is approved, but it can only show in certain countries and devices where this type of content is allowed.

You can go here to see a list of all status and its definitions.

What Happens When You Violate AdWords Policies?

In most cases, when you violate AdWords’ terms and/or policies you will be given a warning with detailed information giving you an opportunity to make the necessary changes. If the requested changes are not made then your account will be suspended.

If your ad is disapproved then it means that the ad and/or keywords doesn’t comply with Google’s advertising policies. You need to identify the reason and get it fixed so that they will review the ad once again and will approve you.

If the domain name is disabled or the ad is suspended (most probably because of landing page or webmaster guidelines) then it means that your website violates Google’s advertising policies and/or webmaster policies and can no longer be advertised until you fix the problem.

Finally, if your AdWords account is suspended (can be temporary or permanent) then all your ads will be suspended and you’re no longer allowed to advertise on AdWords. All the related accounts (and future accounts) will be suspended automatically.

Note: Once your account is suspended permanently it’s pretty difficult to get a manual reply from Google.

Additional AdWords Resources

Read: Google AdSense Program Policies: Everything You Need To Know

Conclusion

If you find that any of the above point lacks clarity then let me know as a comment below and I will happy to sort it out.

Also, if you are looking for some specific information about a Google’s policy then it’s a good idea to ask on the official AdWords forum or  you can contact the AdWords team on Twitter.

Happy Marketing! :)

First Published: September 27, 2012; Last Updated: Monday, December 1, 2014

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Mahesh Mohan

Hey there, I’m Mahesh (@maheshone) — Chief Content Strategist @ Minterest and an organic marketing evangelist. I write about tech, marketing, and everything in between that truly excites me. Outside of that, I’m equally passionate about the financial markets, and also spend A LOT of time doing random things. Also, the Chief Everything Officer (@Infirn Labs).

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Mahesh Mohan

Hey there, I’m Mahesh (@maheshone) — Chief Content Strategist @ Minterest and an organic marketing evangelist. I write about tech, marketing, and everything in between that truly excites me. Outside of that, I’m equally passionate about the financial markets, and also spend A LOT of time doing random things. Also, the Chief Everything Officer (@Infirn Labs).