Staying Compliant With Google Ads Policy: Key Rules and Regulations

google ads agency

You’ve finished creating your first ad – it looks fantastic and you are pleased with the copy and keyword usage. It has been published and you check back in a few days time only to find out that the ad has been rejected by Google? What??? 

This can happen and the most common reason is because your ad has failed to meet the criteria stated in Google Ad guidelines. If you were unaware of these guidelines and policies, we discuss them below and what Google expects from your ads.

Google Wants Only High-Quality, Compliant Ads

Let’s discuss a little background info first so you know why there are policies and how the system works.

Google gives everyone a fair chance

Firstly, Google Ads doesn’t discriminate and every online business, PPC company, or individual has the ability to create an account and produce Google Ads providing they have a website. 

However, Google wants to maintain a level of quality and make sure that its users are only shown relevant ads with accurate information that won’t cause any distress or annoyance. This is why there is a Google Ads policy so that a minimum quality level is achieved.

All ads go through an approval process

To make sure that guidelines are followed and this quality standard is met, every ad created is put through an approval process. There are five key approval statuses that you must be aware of and what they mean: 

  • Under review: This is essentially the first stage and at this point your ad is not displayed anywhere. 
  • Eligible: This shows a little positivity and means that your ad is being actively reviewed. During this stage, based on initial reviewing, your ad may start to generate some views and traction. 
  • Approved: This is excellent news and means your ad is compliant and that Google will run it based on your bidding strategies, etc. Approved limited: The ad can be run but it will not have the full visibility or functionality as an approved ad. 
  • Disapproved: Something is wrong and you have not met the Google Ad guidelines fully. 

There is typically nothing you can do to change an “approved limited” ad to a fully approved ad, but you can usually make changes to make a disapproved ad approved.

Important Google Ad Guidelines to Remember

While it is a fantastic idea to read the Google Ads policy and guidelines fully, we can give an overview of some of the main pointers and important dos and don’ts below.

Prohibited Content

Some things simply can’t be advertised on Google Ads with no compromise, these include: 

  • Counterfeit goods 
  • Dangerous products 
  • Inappropriate content 
  • Content that enables dishonest behavior 

Google Ads is not a black market so obviously your products and/or services must be legal as should your business practices be. 

Things classed as dangerous products are also prohibited like weapons, tobacco products, psychoactive substances, and recreational drugs. Nor can you use Google ads to promote things like hacking tools and academic shortcuts.

Prohibited Practices

Never try to game Google Ads! The system is incredibly intelligent and you will be caught out and banned or potentially have legal consequences. The following are prohibited practices: 

  • Abusing the Google Ad network 
  • Collecting data 
  • Misrepresentation of your business or products 

You cannot trick the Google Ads approval process so don’t try to do that. Nor should you collect any data that isn’t already provided via Google Ads and supporting platforms like Google Analytics. 

You must also strive to represent your business accurately and never try to deceive customers regarding your intentions and what your products or services do.

Restricted Content

There is a range of restricted content that can be used in ads, but has to go through some additional approval processes or you have to do something beforehand, these include: 

  • Sexual content 
  • Alcohol 
  • Gambling 
  • Healthcare 
  • Medicine 
  • Political content 
  • Financial services 

Sexual content can be used for example, but certain things such as body parts must be omitted. For alcohol, the ads must comply with relevant local laws and regulations and never advertise to minors. 

For gambling and online casinos you can only get ads approved if you have additional Google Ads certification. Like alcohol, any ads for medicine and healthcare must comply with local laws and standards. 

There can be limitations on political ads too but this varies widely depending on country, state, and region so it’s always a great idea to check the relevant local laws. Lastly, some countries and local regions may have restrictions on financial service ads so this is another thing that needs researching beforehand.

Ad Quality Standards

Google also expects your ads to meet various editorial standards which include: 

  • Images are displayed in the correct manner 
  • Destination links are correct and accessible 
  • Proper punctuation, grammar, and text spacing 
  • No clickbait content or sensationalist language 
  • No exclamation marks in headings or headlines 
  • No phone numbers in your ads 

Essentially, they don’t want any old rubbish! Your ads must be accurate and represent your business and products/services appropriately. 

Images must be the right size and orientation while any video must be watchable and have acceptable sound quality. As we are sure you do anyway, your ad copy must be grammatically correct too with no errors.

Make Sure You Understand Google Ad Guidelines and Keep up to Date

You have to be vigilant when it comes to Google advertising policies as you could put in a heap of hard work to create your ads, only to find out that they have been rejected. This means time, effort, and money wasted with nothing positive to show. 

Make sure that you have read the Google Ad guidelines fully so you know what is expected and what you can and can’t do relating to the style and content of your ad campaigns. Please bear in mind that Google often makes policy updates or additions so it’s a sound practice to check them regularly, or follow sites that create articles relating to policy changes.

Article by:

Joshua George is the founder of ClickSlice, an SEO Agency based in London, UK.

He has eight years of experience as an SEO Consultant and was recently hired by the UK government for SEO training. Joshua also owns the best-selling SEO course on Udemy, and has taught SEO to over 100,000 students.

His work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, AgencyAnalytics, Wix and lots more other reputable publications.