Losing a 6 Figure Revenue Stream

I am a big fan of Google Adsense. They’ve been one of my best revenue streams having paid me over a million dollars through the years and I pride myself on quality content and playing by the rules. You know that statement all good thing come to an end well I was somewhat startled to receive the following email:

Google AdSense: You have 3 working days to make changes to your site

Hello,
This is a warning message to alert you that there is action required to bring your AdSense account into compliance with our AdSense program policies. We’ve provided additional details below, along with the actions to be taken on your part.

Issue ID#: xxxxx
Affected website: xxxxx
Example page where violation occurred: xxxxx
Action required: Please make changes to your site within 72 hours.
Current account status: Active

After spending the next ten minutes crapping myself, the day was dedicated to refamiliarising myself with Adsense policies and ensuring the site was in compliance. I also have an agent at Google that has helped me with optimizations in the past so I shot her an email explaining and asking for any advice she could give.

The warning email highlited that I was in violation in 2 different ways:

LAYOUT ENCOURAGES ACCIDENTAL CLICKS: Publishers are not permitted to encourage users to click on Google ads in any way. This includes any implementation that may encourage accidental clicks, such as placing ads near flash games or navigation bars, or placing ads and site links extremely close together.

Ad Links above menu

Ad Links above menu

They never stated exactly which ad unit was in violation but it was a bit of a no brainer. I had placed Adlinks above my category list and they could certainly be mistaken for a part of the site’s navigation. So I removed that Ad Unit and must admit in hind sight, it did look a bit spammy. I should have removed it a long time ago. Lesson learned and they never generated all that much revenue anyway.

The other violation was:

AD MISLABELING: Publishers may not implement Google ads in a manner that disguises the ads in any way. For instance, publishers may not place ads under misleading headers or titles as this may confuse users into thinking the ads are actually site links related to that header. To avoid this issue, we ask that publishers use only “sponsored links” or “advertisements” to label ads. More information about this policy can be found in our help center at ( https://www.google.com/adsense/support/as/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=115985 ).

Ads in Category Description Box

Ads in Category Box

This one wasn’t so obvious, but became so after browsing the site. On top of the category pages is a box captioned with the category title containing an Ad Unit on the left with the category description to the right. Aha, this is what I expected the violation to be about. After further investigation I found one of my (ex) writers had been creating new categories, apparently at random, and not adding any descriptions. So those ads were definitely in violation. At the end of the day I’ve got to take responsibility for all content. My solution to this was to beef up the descriptions, and reposition so the description was on the left before the advert.

I’d made the changes within 24 hours so it was now time to sit, wait and hope all was ok. If you use Adsense I would strongly recommend you triple check the Ad placement policies.

Six days later my ads we’re still showing (YIPPEEEE) and I got a reply from my Adsense rep, after a few messages back and forth she said everything should be fine. Heart attack postponed and a very messy birthday celebration bank holiday weekend followed. PHEW!!!

So back to work the following week only to be greeted on Tuesday with this in my inbox:

Google AdSense ad serving has been disabled to your site
Hello,
This message is to alert you that one of your websites is not currently in compliance with our AdSense program policies and as a result, ad serving has been disabled to your website.
Issue ID#: xxxx
Ad serving has been disabled to: yyyyyy
Example page where violation occurred: yyyyyy
Action required: Check all other remaining sites in your account for compliance.
Current account status: Active
….

ARRRGGGG, not the best of reads to begin the week. Now the nightmare was a reality so it was time to go through both emails again and find and fix all violations before filing an appeal.

To be continued… If you want to read about the appeal process and hear the outcome be sure to subscribe or follow us on twitter or facebook.

Would be interested to hear if anybody else has experienced something like this or what would you do if you use Adsense and lost your account?

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.

Comments

  1. I have 2 or 3 other blogging friends this has happened to. They, unfortunately, didn’t have a rep to talk to at Google and they can’t use their AdSense.

  2. Hi Al,

    Yes this happened to me a couple of months ago. My Adsense account was closed without any warning or any reason given, other then “break their policies”. I hadn’t even been actively promoting Adsense on any of my sites. I was earning like £2-£3 per month.

    I tried to find out why my account was closed and there was no reason given, nor could I speak to anyone.

    I then waved through the Adsense suspension pages and after half an hour or so found the link on how to appeal. They make it as difficult as possible to find, much like everything when you’re trying to report something to Google (e.g. DMCA and Youtube video take-down notices).

    The appear process said that you get one appeal for your account only, and if you fail then that’s it.

    Just seconds after submitting the appeal explaining I hadn’t done anything wrong and hadn’t been given any reasons or notice, I received an email saying my appeal was denied and my account was banned indefinitely.

    Google is such a bullsh*t company. In conclusion, my account was banned unfairly with no reason given, they didn’t even let me submit an appeal, and now it’s banned indefinitely.

    The thing that takes the piss is that I then had a Google Adwords UK manager email me 2 weeks later to ask if he could assist with helping me start an Adwords PPC campaign. I told him where him and his company could go.

  3. Scary stuff – definitely makes casting a wide net a good idea when it comes to income streams.

  4. One company comes to mind: Media.net — in my case, I have both Adsense and Media.net on most my sites. Their CPC/RPMs are identical. PLUS Media.net will assign a rep for you who is responsive.

  5. A very sad one for Al Carlton! Being banned by Google is never a good tale to tell! The comment below was left in the IM Social site – Kingged.com where this post was “kingged”:

    It could be so devastating when someone becomes a victim of Google’s Adsense placement policy. I have seen this happen a couple of times to people I know. What I have come to realize is that you cannot predict Google as long as they have the final say on Adsense!

    Even when you comply with all Adsense placement policies, the search engine may find a way of getting to a publisher. Sometimes, I wish there are strong competitors that can make Google become really “fair” in this disciplinary procedures!

  6. Thanks for this post. It can be difficult to sift through what you are doing wrong, especially when you are in a bit of a panic about being suspended. Doesn’t make it much easier when they don’t give you precise reasons either.

  7. Follow up post here.

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