Google is known to take its policies rather seriously. Multiple high-earning publishers have had their accounts disabled and deleted due to violations.
In some discussions with web publishers, we found that they don’t take Google policies seriously until Google starts to penalize them. And in some cases, Google doesn’t share the exact reason for the penalty (like a two-click penalty) and publishers end up losing revenue.
This is why it is extremely important to familiarize yourself with the Google AdSense policies. Here is a detailed and simplified version of Google policies.
Clicks and Impressions
An ad impression is counted when a visitor has an ad to see after visiting the site
Different types of ads count as a different number of impressions even when placed within the same type of ad placement unit.
For example, a vertical banner ad with two text advertisement units will count as two individual impressions. Whereas a vertical banner ad placement with a single image advertisement will count as a single impression.
A click is measured when a visitor clicks on an advertisement
This is where the money is made, as each click is worth a certain amount of money to the publisher, depending on the targeted keywords and niches. However, because clicks are the money makers to you, they are carefully and strictly monitored by Google. Any type of foul play and you’re out (account ban).
Any practice to inflate the number of clicks and impressions is forbidden
This means you cannot click on your own ads. You cannot have all your friends to come to your site and click on your ads. And you cannot set up a bot that clicks on your ads.
All of these methods of boosting the clicks on your advertisements are considered sabotage by Google. it’s algorithms are very efficient in catching these malpractices and will result in forever account ban.
Google has multiple techs to monitor click fraud and invalid traffic. And generally, publishers get payment after subtracting such traffic and clicks from their earnings. So either way, Google makes sure a publisher gets what they deserve.
You are also forbidden to encourage accidental click from your visitors. If you place ad units close to your clickable content, AdSense will be quickly identified that and take desired actions. The AdSense policy is clear on this, all visitors must click on the advertisements out of their own interest to what is being advertised to them. The advertisements must also always be clearly separate and distinguishable from the rest of your content and website.
If a visitor on your site is causing suspicious clicks
Take note of their activities and report them to Google via this link. It is crucial that you report your findings so that Google can investigate the original cause of the invalid clicks, and it clears you of any wrongdoing.
Google can always detect invalid clicks and activities
There is no risk in a click being resulted from an interested visitor sharing the same IP address as the site owner. As soon as the click is valid and is from potential customers for advertisers, Google will remain fine. In the case of impressions, Google is able to track if impressions are normal and are occurring because you are either using or updating your own site – no risk of violation there.
A sudden surge in website traffic
Google is completely able to distinguish between high traffic coming in from genuine viral content or paid traffic. So, in case you are getting a lot of traffic from a viral content or popular Tweet, then you don’t need to inform Google.
Google takes revenue shared from both advertisers and publishers
Google wants to spend advertiser’s revenue in the right way. Likewise, it detects invalid clicks on your site and subtracts that CTR from your overall earnings. Hence, the final payment that you receive is adjusted by eliminating illegitimate clicks because Google does not charge the advertiser for invalid clicks.
AdSense Content Guidelines
Your content is the first thing AdSense considers to approve/reject your website. Make sure you do a good job there before applying for AdSense. Even after you are accepted for the program, make sure to maintain the high-quality content. This will not only improve your AdSense revenue but also will keep your users happy.
What type of content is prohibited then? A good rule of thumb is to consider whether or not you’d allow your children or anyone else’s children to see or read the material. If the answer is no, then most likely it will already break the rules.
Anything pornographic or adult (Not Safe for Work) content is prohibited
Google likes and wants to work with a family-safe site. If you operate an adult site, then it is recommended to look for ad networks that specifically support such sites. Also, Google categorizes mail order brides in the same way it does adult/sexual dating sites and escort services. So you better not be reviewing those mail order brides from different countries on an AdSense monetized site.
Not allowed to link to adult content, either
An important factor to consider regarding adult content is that you are also not allowed to link to adult content, which means review and promotional websites for adult purposes are out of the question. Adult content includes graphical content but is not limited to that. It is good to keep in mind that Google considers erotic/explicit stories or jokes, forums and comment spamming to be adult content, and thus must be kept separate from AdSense advertisements.
Any content that resembles harassment is strictly forbidden
Google believes strongly in the freedom of expression, but also recognizes the need to protect the quality of the AdSense network for users, advertisers, and publishers.Google
This means that if you wish to have content related to anything fitting those descriptions, the only way it is allowed is that your site is a historical journal and you are doing research or writing historical journals about such matters. Sexual tips and health are also out of bounds for AdSense publishers.
If you don’t own your content’s copyright, don’t put it on your site
Under the copyright law, you are allowed to cite, quote or use parts of copyright-protected work when properly referenced, and credit is given to the original author of the material that you are referring to. Naturally, the original author retains every right to ask you to remove the quotations of their work from your site, even if you credit them.
Copyright infringement is one of the clearest and easiest to bust cases of the policy violation. Make sure you have permission to publish any copyrighted material you are considering to publish. If quoting someone else’s work, for example, a case study on a topic you are writing about, make sure to link to the case study and credit its original author or authors in full.
A good blog post regarding Google’s compliance with the DMCA complaints can be found here.
Alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, etc. promoting content are not allowed
Linking directly to sites that promote said substances is a violation of AdSense policy. Content that is factual and informative is allowed to be about the substances, but it must in no way be attempting to promote, sell, or tempt anyone to use or purchase said substances.
Hacking or game/software cracking content is a direct violation
A good thing to remember is that if it’s illegal, don’t put AdSense ads on it. There is an AdSense wide ban on anything illegal to be within the sites showing their advertisements.
Other types of content that are forbidden include:
Pay-to click sites (for example opening emails and clicking on advertising links to earn money), websites that use the Google brand without express permission, violence promoting and violence-filled sites, and also anything weapon-related.
About user-generated content
It can be challenging for publishers to monitor user-generated content. But Google requires you to do so and holds you responsible for every piece of content that appears on the same page as your AdSense ad code.
It is recommended to educate your users on these same policies to make sure they understand what’s required of them as well as you. Before placing your ad code you should inspect the content on that specific page where the ad code will be based. It is also recommended for you to weekly monitor the most popular pages of your website.
Don’t forget to clean up the comments section, as that is where most of the spammers try to spread their advertising and AdSense policy violating content. Report violation buttons as well as keyword filtering to prevent certain keywords from appearing on your website are also recommended to help you monitor and prevent policy violations on your site.
Other good measures of policing your content are to allow only trusted users to post content on your website, and not enable the advertising on any page until it has been manually checked by you or another member of your staff.
Content filtering is another method of effective policing, but it requires for you to develop a content filtering system for your site. Many existing solutions can be found with a quick Google search, and we recommend you give them a try. The policing of your user-generated content can be a challenge, but you don’t have to do it all alone. If you can afford it, hiring content reviewers or editors to help you go through each piece of submitted content is a great way to reduce your workload.
The top three methods to use when policing your website’s content
- Do not post your ad code on a page featuring content that you do not trust. This means that if you know the writer or they have written for you on multiple previous occasions, you can be rather certain they will abide by the AdSense policies.
- Include a report a violation link after every piece of content, so that your other users can inform you when a possible policy violation appears on your website.
- Put a CAPTCHA check on your content posting system, and do not allow users to post on the site without CAPTCHA verification.
These rules apply to other forms of user-generated content as well, not just websites and articles. Sites, where users can comment on posts and pages, need to be monitored for policy violating comments. Good methods to ensure your comment section stays clean is to actively respond to them, and at the same time, you can clean the section up from spam. Spam filters such as Akismet are also among the popular solutions, especially for WordPress publishers.
Forums, dating sites, and file hosting sites are also required to follow these same policies regarding user-generated content. Any offensive, NSFW, or other forms of policy-violating content is forbidden and must be actively monitored and removed. Report a violation link, CAPTCHA checks upon registration, content filters, and enabling ads only after you are certain the user and content can be trusted are effective methods of policing these types of sites.
AdSense Webmaster Guidelines
You are responsible for your sites features, content and advertisement placements
Google does not allow you to have any “bad” SEO work on your site, which means repetitive use of keywords (keyword stuffing), hidden links and text, duplicate content or any other sketchy attempts of boosting your site’s performance in the SERPs (Search engine results page). Creating sub-domains or multiple pages that essentially feature duplicate content is forbidden and will result in the termination of your account in the AdSense program.
Your site must be of value to the visitors
Keep in mind that you create content for your visitor not for AdSense or search engines. Any type of “doorway” pages that are created with the sole intention of ranking highly for specific keywords are recognized by Google’s monitoring system and your AdSense participation will be at risk.
Make sure your site is indexable and have no crawlability issues.
Keep your title elements and ALT attributes clear and focused, and do not try to over enhance the number of times a keyword appears on your site. A more natural feel and keyword density will guarantee you a better standing in the eyes of Google.
Optimizing your website for speed and ease of use is also a relevant factor in the eyes of Google, so make sure to use tools such as WebPagetest and YSlow to monitor and optimize the site speed. An excellent resource in relation to webpage speed and load time is the Let’s Make The Web Faster section in the Google Developers toolset.
Keep your content unique and written by humans
Google will notice automatically generated content, cloaking, affiliate link promotion on a website without sufficient value, scraped content, duplicate content, hidden links or text, abusing the rich snippets mark up, stuffing irrelevant keywords to the content and creating pages with malicious intentions such as phishing or inflicting viruses on the visitors.
AdSense Traffic Source Guidelines
Google actively monitors the traffic coming to sites
Bad quality traffic would only waste the money of paying advertisers, creating worse ROI for the advertisers. That would then affect their willingness to advertise with Google, so for their own sake, they have to keep themselves informed about your traffic.
Do not use spammy methods to promote your site via email social, etc.
Pop-ups that redirect the visitor to unwanted websites are also against Google AdSense policies, and should not be even considered to be used simultaneously with AdSense. Using any software or applications such as toolbars to display Google ads, search boxes or search results is against the policy on sites that display AdSense advertisements.
If your site contains AdSense ad code you must make sure that no software interferes with the site navigation by redirecting the visitor, launching pop-ups, modifying browser settings or in any other way. If you use other ad networks, you must make sure they do not use any methods that interfere with site navigation either.
The visitor must easily identify what they are being promised and absolutely no attempt of misleading is allowed.
Additionally, the use of any sites offering paid traffic is against the policies.
AdSense Ad Placement and Ad Behavior Guidelines
Although Google recommends webmasters to try out different ad placements, layouts, and campaigns on their site, it is not allowed to place AdSense advertising on such places as pop-ups, emails, or software. You must also not implement AdSense advertising in a way that it promotes accidental clicks of said advertisement.
The advertisements must be clearly distinguishable from the surroundings
No flashy arrows or animations are allowed to draw unwanted attention, if the user wishes to click on the advertisement, they will do so on their own initiative. The advertisements must also be labeled as such, not anything misleading like “resources” or “helpful links”. Only two labels are ever allowed, and those are “Advertisements” and “Sponsored Links”.
Spamming of any form that includes a Google advertisement is forbidden
Websites that are purposefully built to be filled with ads and forcing visitors to click them are both in violation of AdSense policies. You also must not encourage anyone to click on the advertisements in any way, such as using phrases like “Contribute to this website by clicking advertisements” or “Take a look at our sponsors!”
No image association with any of the advertisements is allowed
Meaning you must keep images you place on the website separate and not affecting people’s view or opinion of the advertisements. Also, content should be placed above the fold, and not allowing an advertisement to push all the real content below the fold is a good way to keep the advertisements distinguishable from the content. You may also not format any links, content features, or images to look like the advertisements.
When it comes to advertisement behavior, the publishers are allowed to modify the ad placements and behavior of the adverts as long as it does not inflict any harm upon the advertiser. A more in-depth resource for the modification of the AdSense code can be found here.
Pages should be easy to access and navigate with no forced redirects
Pop-ups are also included as distracting site behavior. Google also recommends a distance of at least 150 pixels between a flash-based game on your website and an advertisement that is close by. This allows the user to clearly distinguish between the two, and no accidental clicks will incur as a result of the game’s placement.
Not allowed to put AdSense code in a comment and message box
Email is not an accepted form of delivering AdSense advertising, not even as part of a newsletter that the recipient has subscribed to. No toolbars, search boxes, desktop applications, or their installers can be monetized with AdSense advertising. Additionally, if your sites feature more than three pop-ups that were not deliberately initiated by the visitor, you are not permitted to place AdSense advertisements anywhere on the site.
You may also place ads on hosted blogs and websites like Blogger, but you might run into problems if you do not have access to the HTML source code of your chosen platform, as that is where you need to place the ad code. If you are framing, i.e. displaying another site within your site, you are prohibited from displaying AdSense advertising on those pages.
Acceptable modifications of AdSense code include responsive design to better fit the advertisements on a mobile device’s screen, A/B testing of ad placements and their effect on clicks, ad tag minimization, and setting custom channels dynamically. Google automatically uses the visitor’s IP address to modify whether or not the advertisement will display in a new window or not when clicked. This is a result of some countries, such as China, that treat opening advertisements in a new window as completely normal. This is a function you are under no circumstances allowed to interfere with or modify. Any attempt to do so will result in the removal of your account.
You must acknowledge that Google and third parties might place cookies on the browsers of your visitors and track their internet usage. The privacy policies that Google adheres to when handling the customer data are stated in Google’s advertising privacy policies section of their site. Other than that, the data collected is solely at your disposal, granted that Google is also allowed to use it for their advertising purposes.
Under no circumstance, you are allowed to convey data that would allow Google to identify any of your users to Google. They do not want to have any private data sent to them by you, because they have no wish to use it. Keep it to yourself.
You should also provide the visitor with links to the appropriate third-party vendors and their advertising and cookie settings. You can also link to aboutads.info and explain to your users that they can use the said website to opt-out of some third-party interest-based advertising programs.
You are also advised to link to Google’s explanation of their usage of your customers’ information here: How Google uses data when you use our partners’ sites or apps.
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
If your site is covered by COPPA you must notify Google of the site or sections of the site under the coverage, and not target adverts toward children under the age of 13 or follow the past or current activity of children under the age of 13.
Google does not allow gambling related content or gambling sites to display AdSense advertisements unless your country is in the select group of countries where this is legal. The countries included on this list are Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Israel, Norway, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.
The regulations are stringent, however, and always individually assessed based on your site. The allowance of AdSense ads on gambling websites is thus never a done deal.
In conclusion, if you keep it legal, you are safe from Google closing your AdSense account. Keep your wits about you when placing AdSense advertisements on new sites after you have already been accepted, since that way Google employees will not check your website in advance to you placing the advertisements. This makes it easier for you to get removed from the AdSense program.
Adhering to these policies is easy, but you have to be awake when designing your ad placements and strategies. If you find yourself wondering about anything AdSense policy-related, want to find more detailed guidelines or just want to read further into the AdSense policies, Google has an excellent ‘More Resources’ section that lists numerous tips, tricks, and guides into everything from optimizing your site to preventing invalid clicks and displaying flash games on your site.