Why Did Google Disapprove My AdWords Ad?

Isn’t it a bummer logging into AdWords to check on your ads…only to see this little message?


Don’t worry – it’s usually pretty easy to get up and running again. Here’s what you can do to your ads and landing pages to prevent the most common reasons for disapproval:

Checking your ads for the most common mistakes:

    • The display url in your ad must match the root domain of the destination url (i.e. landing page):
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  • You can only have one display url per ad group
  • Make sure you’re following Google’s editorial policy of not being gimmicky or annoying: don’t have excessive punctuation!!!! DON’T USE ALL CAPS. Don’t try 2 B cute and write ur ads like u text, etc.
  • Sorry pal, but you won’t be able to advertise anything Google deems sketchy, such as adult services, alcohol, gambling, illegal drugs or weapons. See the full list.

Making sure your landing pages aren’t landing you in hot water

First, Google won’t let you send traffic to a page that’s under construction or broken. And you shouldn’t do that anyway. Do you really want to pay to send people to this page?

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Here are some more rules your landings pages have to adhere to:

  • Your landing page has to work for users on all browsers, in all locations, and on all devices.
  • Your landing page can’t have a pop up.
  • You can’t do “information harvesting“, meaning you offer a free gift or incentive in exchange for personal information (such as full name, email, mailing address, social security, dress size).

Make no mistake: there’s nothing wrong with a legitimate business doing lead gen through AdWords. HubSpot’s landing page below, which is attached to a real website and promotes a real business, is perfectly fine. Just don’t cross the line into information harvesting.

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If you have a form on the page, you should also include a privacy policy. Using a lightbox ensures that your visitor can review the policy but does not have to leave the landing page and can therefore complete your single call-to-action.

It is also essential that you are seen as a real business. Google is strict when it comes to ads using domains that are actually related to the business that’s being advertised.

And if you have a legitimate website and a valid reason for collecting sensitive personal information, such as bank accounts, credit card numbers, social security numbers or driver’s licenses, the data has to be transmitted securely over an SSL (https) connection.

So why on earth did they reject my awesome ad?

If your ads rarely get disapproved, you can simply hover over the bubble under the “status” column of each ad to find out why it was denied:

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But if you work in a field that tends to trigger Google’s monitors and your ads get disapproved regularly, you might want to customize your columns so you can see the disapproval reason for multiple ads at a glance.

To customize your columns (as of the date of this post – remember that the AdWords interface changes all the time so don’t hate me if these steps change), click on Ads -> Columns -> Customize columns:

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Then add policy details and click apply:

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You now have a column that shows the reason why your ads were disapproved, including links to more information:

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How do I get my ad approved after disapproval?

Thankfully, Google believes in second chances. Once you’ve pinpointed the reason your ad or landing page was disapproved and made the appropriate changes, you can resubmit it for review. There’s a different process, depending on whether it was the ad or the landing page that caused the original problem.

If your ad was the culprit, simply make the necessary changes. Once you click “save”, the ad will automatically be submitted for review. The status will change from “disapproved” to “under review” or “eligible”. Approval normally takes a day.

If the landing page caused the disapproval, you have to fill out a short form to request a manual review.

While it’s frustrating to log in to your AdWords account and find disapproved ads, it’s not the end of the world. As we’ve seen, it doesn’t take much time to correct the most common mistakes, resubmit, get approved, and be back on track with advertising.

— Theresa Baiocco

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About Theresa Baiocco
Theresa Baiocco is the co-founder and CMO of Conversion Max, an agency in Bend, Oregon that specializes in PPC Management, Landing Page Optimization, and Conversion Optimization for companies spending $20,000 - $100,000/month on AdWords. She has a Master's degree in Marketing from the University of Colorado in Denver and is a Google AdWords Qualified Individual. She also has a Market Motive Master Certification in Conversion Optimization.
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