5 Google Adsense Policies Every Blogger Must Know

No, Google isn't completely like 1984...

[This is part of the Blogger’s Guide to Earning More with Google Adsense.]

Unfortunately this post might feel a bit dry and boring but it’s absolutely critical that you walk through this and make sure you know it (and don’t come back to me and cry when you get in trouble either!).

You see, the Adsense Policies for it’s program are taken very seriously and the unsuspecting and somewhat ignorant blogger can wake up one morning with their account removed and their website banned from the program, sometimes permanently. The long-term impact of such a ban is obvious and you never want this to happen as it’s next to impossible to get back in the program once you’re banned.

Google is super-strict when it comes to enforcing their policies and more bloggers have been burned because they simply don’t think they are being policed – the fact is that you will be. It’s Minority Report, 1984, and all those other Sci-Fi films about law, order, and oversight!

Ok, it’s not that bad, but I think you’re getting the picture, right? What I’m going to do is walk you through 5 of the top things you need to know about the policies and what to look out for.

1. You Must Have a Privacy Policy

This one is easy to do and will take a little bit of your time but is simple a non-negotiable item if you’re even thinking about engaging with Adsense – you must have a Privacy Policy in place if you’re going to run Google Adsense.

Period.

Google is explicit in this requirement (you can read more about creating a privacy policy right here) and you should have one. One of the no-brainer ways to get banned is forgetting (or not knowing) about this!

2. Invalid Clicks

Great book.

Besides not having a Privacy Policy in place the number one way that many people get banned and removed is through “invalid” clicks. There are a number of ways to trigger an invalid click:

Automated Software – People who create or use software to click on links (perhaps their own advertisements) are quickly caught and banned.

Bots – Similar to Automated Software, these scripts can auto-click or pass through values that can get you in trouble. Stay away and don’t buy into any “system” or “service” that’ll “automate” anything for you.

You – One of the top offenders are the site owners themselves as they “test” their own advertisements and click on them. I have talked (and counseled) more bloggers who have gotten banned because of this who said something along the lines of:

I was just testing it to see if it was working! What’s wrong with that?

What’s wrong is that you can’t do that!

Friends, Online Groups – Another quick way to get banned is asking your friends (or family or a social network or online group) to “test” it out for you with explicit directions to click on the advertisements. This is a serious no-no and will get you banned quicker than you can say “Test my ad for me please!”

Any Other Artificial Click – Sometimes you can get banned because someone or some business might be targeting your website by accident or intentionally because they are really mad at you. For example, you piss off your competitor and they come in and click every single Google Adsense advertisement on your blog 100 times. Yup, you pay for this and could get banned.

Is that fair? Absolutely not and Google will help you resolve the situation if it’s truly malicious. The best way is for you to stay proactive and check your account activity for any irregular clicks or patterns consistently. Report anything strange, even in the slightest and you should be good to go.

3. Misleading or Encouraging Your Readers, Visitors to Click Advertisements

Another common way that bloggers get banned is to either mislead their visitors and readers to click on the advertisements or even explicitly asking them to either by saying something as direct as “Please click my banner advertisements on my sidebar!” or perhaps something a little more tactful (but still not smart) as “Please support me and my advertisers by clicking on my ads!” or even having a little text about the advertisements that say “Check these awesome sites out!”

Don’t do it because Google will catch you.

This essentially violates Adsense policies as the end user may not know that those clicks are on actual advertisements. The only allowed text above any Adsense ad is “Ads” or “Advertisement.”

Also, you can mislead your users by way of your blog’s design by putting content super-close to your advertisements or in such a way that forces them to click on them to move forward in their user experience. Putting advertisements next to images is also prohibited as this can “fool” a user in thinking it’s an image while it’s actually an advertisement.

Here are two examples that are trying to fool a user into clicking the ads:

The blog post title is trying to mislead users to click on links below!

And here’s another common bad practice:

Trying to blend in content with advertisements. Sneaky.

As you can see the blogger here is trying to mislead their users into clicking on the links and advertisements.

4. Revealing Adsense Data

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve messed up here in the past and have had to correct some blog posts that contained too much information that was available publicly.

The Terms and Conditions state explicitly:

You agree not to disclose Google Confidential Information without Google’s prior written consent.

“Google Confidential Information” includes without limitation:

(a) all Google software, technology, programming, specifications, materials, guidelines and documentation relating to the Program;

(b) click-through rates or other statistics relating to Property performance in the Program provided to You by Google; and

(c) any other information designated in writing by Google as “Confidential” or an equivalent designation.

However, You may accurately disclose the amount of Google’s gross payments to You pursuant to the Program.

I’ve highlighted in bold the important things to know and you should be careful with any screenshots that you make of any part of your program or performance. In fact, screenshots aren’t explicitly stated as being on the “safe” list so if you want to be ultra-safe and conservative you’ll never post screenshots – up to you!

You can, of course, share how much you make which is always pretty neat!

5. Purchasing Traffic, 3rd Parties

The last area that typically get’s people banned is when they purchase traffic from other sources. For many of you this might not apply (ever) but for some of you who are perhaps more advanced in your use and marketing strategies you need to be careful.

Adsense says that the following may not be done and all warrant a ban by Google:

  • Use third-party services that generate clicks or impressions such as paid-to-click, paid-to-surf, autosurf and click-exchange programs.
  • Be promoted through unsolicited mass emails or unwanted advertisements on third-party websites.
  • Display Google ads, search boxes or search results as a result of the actions of software applications such as toolbars.
  • Be loaded by any software that can trigger pop-ups, redirect users to unwanted websites, modify browser settings or otherwise interfere with site navigation. It is your responsibility to ensure that no ad network or affiliate uses such methods to direct traffic to pages that contain your AdSense code.
  • Receive traffic from online advertising unless the site complies with the spirit of Google’s Landing Page Quality Guidelines. For instance, users should easily be able to find what your ad promises.

For many of you this might be “greek” and you’ll be fine but it’s good for you to know and never buy traffic or buy into a program or service without knowing all of the nitty-gritty details because it might end up costing you more than you know!

Finally, it’s just a good thing to read and review both the official Google Terms and Conditions as well as the official Adsense Program Policies. Again, don’t cry to me if you get banned and never actually read what you signed up for!

[This is part of the Blogger’s Guide to Earning More with Google Adsense.]

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