Banned from Google AdWords — for being useful

By , August 14, 2012

Google AdWords Support has confirmed: if any pages on my web site include affiliate links, my entire site is banned from using AdWords. They “recommend” that I decimate the usefulness of my directory web site if I want to advertise through AdWords. is a directory of lesson-plan resources for K-12 teachers. The site is relevant and useful because it provides exactly the right information that teachers seek. Google’s organic search algorithms agree: most of the directory pages appear on the first page of search results for relevant search terms, although very few appear in the top three results.

Google AdWords, however, is a separate system with different rules, one of which is to protect Google’s own revenue stream by blocking other directory sites from advertising.

I already knew that Google AdWords wouldn’t allow me to advertise my directory pages.  That’s their business decision, which is their decision to make.

But this weekend, I decided to re-launch a test that I’ve done every couple of years since AdWords existed: advertise a content page (not a directory page) which already appears in first position in Google’s search results, to evaluate how much the addition of a paid ad impacts the overall traffic from Google for the same search phrase. This is a practice Google encourages.

The page I chose to advertise is a stand-alone resource page, “Call of the Wild Vocabulary Words with Sentences.”  (Teachers who use the novel in their classrooms find this page very useful.) This page is hosted under the web site, but contains no links to other sites. The only link on the page — in observance of Google’s guidelines — is a link to the site’s home page (which contains no affiliate links).

I did not seek to advertise any other pages through AdWords.

Google has confirmed today that I am prohibited from advertising this page using Google AdWords, even though the page does not violate any Google policies. Here is Google’s complete response:

Hello Mark,

Thank you for your reply. I understand you have only one link ‘’ on the top of your landing page. But, please know that we review the entire site and not just your landing page. Let me confirm to you that your entire site needs to be in compliance with our landing page and site policies before we can re-enable your site. Having few pages compliant with our policies will not lead to re-enabling of your site.

Mark, you can surely advertiser your site with us. But, you’ll need to bring your site into compliance with our policies for your ads promoting your site can start showing on Google.


1) The best option is to remove all redirect links from your site ‘’ and add more amount of unique information about your service on your domain itself.

2) But if you think the above option is not feasible, I would highly recommend that you re-structure your site so that you provide the users with information regarding the other sites that you are promoting/reviewing on your domain; and then given them an option to actually visit those external sites. This way you are providing the users with a comprehensive experience that will enable them to learn more about the service and features offered on the other sites as well as figure out whether it is actually relevant to what they are looking for.

Here are some examples of unique content forms that you can have on your site:

– Original and unique descriptions about the sites that you’re promoting through your domain ‘’.

– Unique user reviews about the the sites the users are being led to.

– A user feedback option so that users can post their reviews about the sites that you’re promoting through your site. This again helps in users to gain insight about fellow users and their experience on those sites.

– User rating feature like a user rating scale so users can rate these services/sites.

3) Please make sure the content that you provide on every page of your site is unique. Also do ensure that all the links on your site lead to functional domains.

Mark, making these changes will give users a holistic experience where they can see reviews about these sites that are unique, read what other users feel and then go to the sites, rather than going to different sites without any additional information.

With your cooperation, we can together fix this. Be rest assured that I am here to help you with whatever is required and always feel free to write in to me for any assistance at anytime. My above suggestions should help you comply with our policies. I encourage you to make improvements to your site and once you’ve updated your site per our guidelines, please reply to this email and I’ll be happy to review the site again for you.

I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your cooperation and all the best!


– Mark, you’ll have to fundamentally answer this question, ‘what are those extra things/value adds that users get from visiting other sites via your site?,’ while putting any bridging links on your site. This is the whole basis of our policy.

– If you strongly wish to have the external links on your site, we recommend that you organize the site in a way that it includes a section “”Links”” and there you can have helpful articles to other sites which you may deem helpful to your users. However, this needs to be coupled with a lot of Original and unique content on the site.”

I appreciate your patience and understanding and apologize for any inconvenience you may have experienced.

Have a good day ahead.


Google Inc.| The Google AdWords Team | 1-866-2-GOOGLE |

Simply put, Google is prohibiting directory sites from advertising through Google AdWords, if they include affiliate links, unless they decimate their usefulness by adding lots of extraneous content.  Their “suggestions” (requirements to be reconsidered) are that I remove the affiliate links (which would eliminate 90% of the usefulness of the site), add lots of extraneous content AND segregate the links to a separate “links” page (shifting the useful content away from the landing page), or add lots of “user-generated content” (which imposes huge adminstrative expense to manage spam and hate speech, while adding only marginal useful information).

The bottom line: since this page ranks #1 organically in its current location, and since I can’t advertise this location through Google AdWords, I’ll need to find another page (on another one of my web sites) which ranks #1 for the most relevant search terms, to conduct my test on “how much AdWords increases traffic for a page which already ranks #1 organically for the same search terms.”

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