I’ve been suspended from Google AdWords since early September 2010. First, I got a vague warning in late August. Less than a week later, I was suspended. Here’s proof:
I still don’t know exactly why I was suspended.
I know it had to do with something on this domain. From what I was able to figure out, my site was classified as a “make money” site, probably because I’m a freelance copywriter who helps clients make money.
In Google’s eyes, it’s apparently an “unforgivable sin” to talk about making money or help others to make money.
I wasn’t using AdWords very much at the time I was suspended, and I hadn’t made any changes that would have a triggered a review. I can only assume my account was flagged in some sort of sweeping review.
What Fueled the Growth of AdWords?
I began using AdWords shortly after the program launched — back when GoTo/Overture was the biggest pay-per-click game in town.
Because the AdWords auction gave lower cost-per-click to better advertisers, savvy direct marketers quickly embraced AdWords. Google returned the love by adding better tracking tools for advertisers to measure conversions and ROI.
Translation: Direct marketers fueled the rapid growth of AdWords. Big brands didn’t understand AdWords and were slow to embrace it.
Fast-forward to July 2011 and the landscape has changed dramatically. Big brands have finally jumped into the AdWords pool. Google has tweaked its ranking algorithm to favor big brands and similar “authority sites.”
Worst of all, Google has suspended the AdWords accounts of tens of thousands of direct marketers — without any kind of recourse.
They won’t tell you why they suspended you. And unless you happen to be especially lucky and/or persistent, you’ll NEVER be able to advertise on Google again.
Google Snubs Big Spenders, Too
If this seems unfair, that’s because it is.
I would gladly fix my site if Google were willing to tell me what I did wrong. Isn’t that how a business relationship works? Communication has to flow both ways. The merchant and customer need to work together for a fruitful relationship.
But Google doesn’t seem to want good business relationships.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re spending $500 a month or $30,000 a month — they’ll cut you off without notice if you so much as blink the wrong way.
I spent exactly $9,825.74 on AdWords before my account was suspended. A client of mine was spending $30,000 a month up until two weeks ago when he, too, was suspended without warning.
Who the hell snubs a customer who’s spending $30K a month and then won’t even give the customer the courtesy of an explanation?
If there was a problem, you’d expect a friendly phone call first. Or a polite request to change your web site to comply with Google’s advertising rules — and specific guidance about how to do it. Or something.
But Google has so much money — power — and control of the search market — they couldn’t care less. So they treat even their best customers like dirt.
Kiran Mehta, a Google AdWords Qualified Individual, had his AdWords account suspended in April 2011. In this LinkedIn discussion, he expresses what many others have thought and felt:
Google cannot give me an exact answer to what the problem is. They keep sending me back to links relating to their terms and condition, etc. It’s like going to see a doctor and he/she tells you that you are sick, gives you a book and says go and find what’s wrong with you and fix it.
Google: A House Divided Against Itself…
True story… I wanted to run some PPC advertising this past spring. And I wanted to do it on AdWords. I hired a guy to do the work because I was too busy, and he tried to get my AdWords account reinstated.
He ended up talking to an AdWords consultant whose job is to bring new advertisers in the door and help them set up a successful campaign.
When the consultant saw the site we wanted to advertise, she was thrilled. “This is just the kind of site Google is looking for!” she exclaimed.
We nailed it. Navigation, all the proper disclaimers, an advertorial style landing page that wasn’t too pushy — all the right stuff. So she said she was going to push for us to be able to advertise.
There was a caveat… they would build out the initial campaign with our input. This was one of the conditions because she wanted to make sure we were successful.
Remember, this gal is on Google’s business development side — the side that offers $75 and $100 AdWords credits to bring in new advertisers. So she’s trying to bring in new accounts that go on to achieve long-term success with AdWords.
We were encouraged at first. We thought this gal would be able to help us. But things quickly went downhill.
Because while she said she was going to reinstate my account, she was unable to do it. Apparently, another Google team (let’s call them the “AdWords Nazis”) refused to allow us to advertise.
Worse still, she submitted some of the WORST keyword lists and ads I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t believe how untargeted the keywords were… and how terrible the ad copy was. This was their idea of giving us a “good start” and a better chance of success.
This was her final effort. She implied she might be able to reinstate my account if I agreed to use MY money to run THEIR campaign.
I politely said “no” and that I would no longer be using AdWords. And that’s when I realized…
Google Has a Multiple Personality Disorder!
My firsthand experience with Google’s AdWords Team caused me to realize just how dysfunctional they are.
They’re spending gobs of money trying to get new advertisers in the door… while at the same time permanently banning old advertisers for minor infractions and then refusing to divulge any specific information about the reasons for the suspension.
They’ve got one team trying to bring in new advertisers… and another team that has been given a “license to suspend.” The latter has the authority to override the former — causing all kinds of internal conflict and confusion.
I strongly suspect there are some individuals on this “AdWords Suspension Team” who are power-tripping. These individuals probably know zilch about running a business. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re former TSA or IRS agents hired exclusively for their lack of empathy for fellow human beings.
As John Jonas wrote in his 2008 post about his personal experience of getting suspended from AdWords: “The people who ‘run’ AdWords are Nazis with no feeling for human beings. If you make a mistake, there is no warning system and no appeals process.”
And let’s not forget, the people they’ve put in charge of business development have probably NEVER spent their own money to advertise on AdWords, yet they’re the ones building out campaigns for new advertisers. (As I said, the campaign they built for me was the worst I’ve ever seen.)
Is It Time to Boycott Google Search?
It’s my personal opinion that Google has grown too big for its britches. It’s become a virtual monopoly and is now behaving like monopolies do: with complete disregard for the customers it allegedly serves. (Emphasis on “allegedly.”)
There are, of course, certain things I love about Google. For instance, Gmail and Google Docs are services I would be happy to pay for.
But the fact is, until a company like Bing or Facebook steals a big piece of Google’s market share, Google will continue to be unfair and impossible to work with.
It’s for this reason I’m no longer using Google as my primary search engine. I’m using Bing instead.
Furthermore, I’ve been advertising on Bing and promoting Bing as much as I can. I visit Bing daily to see the new picture of the day, then I click the “Like” button so it shows up on my Facebook page.
Over time, I hope this builds exposure, familiarity, and usage of Bing. And I hope it helps them steal more of Google’s share of the search market. Now, I realize I’m just one guy — but maybe I can make a difference. :-)
Google Is Not the Only Game in Town!
Thankfully, when it comes to pay-per-click advertising, Google is not the only game in town. Bing and Facebook are excellent alternatives. And while search volumes on Bing are far lower than Google’s, you can drive a TON of qualified traffic through Facebook — often more than you can get on Google, depending on your market.
With that in mind, here are a few options to explore…
- Bing Ads: At the moment, Bing is probably as close as you’ll get to a paid search experience with capabilities that are similar to AdWords.
- Facebook Ads: Advertising on Facebook is fun because you get to combine images with ad copy. Advertising on Facebook lets you target groups of people by interests and demographics.
- Amazon Pay-Per-Click: If you sell physical products, then you may want to advertise on Amazon. Right now, you can start advertising for as little as $0.10 a click.
- LinkedIn Ads: If you are in the B2B market, then consider advertising on LinkedIn. You may actually spend less to acquire sales and leads on LinkedIn given your ability to target exactly who you want to reach.
- Business.com PPC Ads: Another avenue for PPC advertising in the B2B market is Business.com.
- Infolinks In-Text Advertising: This company lets you place text links on a network of publishers’ web sites. When a reader rolls over your link, an ad pops up. This medium is similar to Google’s Content Network — but you get more than just text to get readers to click.
And I’ve only scratched the surface here. The more I investigate, the more I begin to see how many alternatives to AdWords are available.
Whether your AdWords account has been suspended or not… I strongly suggest you explore other advertising options and begin to divert a portion of your ad spend away from Google.
Because the way things are going at Google, it’s only a matter of time before your AdWords account is “permanently suspended.”
-Ryan M. Healy
P.S. If you agree Google’s business practices are unfair and Draconian… and you’d like to do something about it… then please share this post with all the online business people you know. Thanks.
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