Google Adwords Warning… A Lesson To Us All!


Last night I received an email from Google Adwords about one of my accounts. The message stated that some of my URL’s were in violation of their “Landing Page and Site Policies”.

If you’ve received one of these messages then you know the sinking feeling you get in the pit of your stomach when you see that subject line:

“Your Adwords account: Warning of possible suspension”

But upon opening the message I was relieved to see that the two sites they mentioned were VERY old sites that were not even active. In fact, after a brief investigation I found that I didn’t even own the domains anymore. I had let them expire and they’d been picked up by someone else who had built their own sites on them.

Plus the campaigns that were “In Violation” had not been active for 2 years!

I didn’t even know they were there because of the way Adwords is set up by default.

So I slept well last night confident that this morning I would simply hop on the phone with Adwords, explain that the campaigns had not been active for 2 years and that I should have deleted them but forgot to and that I didn’t even own the sites anymore.

Any rational company would look at the situation and say “No problem… just delete the campaigns and all is well!”

And I should note, this is an account I have managed for quite a few years spending about $25-$30k per month (I know… chump change for Google).

So this morning I hopped on the phone and was immediately connected to an Adwords Support Specialist and here is a summary of the conversation…


Adwords: Hi… How can I help… blah blah blah.

Me: [INSERT PLEASANTRIES HERE]… I received an email about a possible account suspension on one of my accounts but it’s a misunderstanding and I want to clear it up. You see, the two campaigns that are in violation of your landing page policy have not been active for about two years. In fact, I didn’t even realize they were still in the account because they were buried in the inactive ad groups. I don’t even own these domains… I let the them expire and someone else registered them and built new sites on them. So I would like to just delete these campaigns from my account since they should not be there anyway.

Adwords: I understand. Our policy states that if a site is found in violation of our landing page policies you must make the site compliant.

Me: But I just want to delete the ad groups. I don’t want to advertise these sites. I don’t own them anymore.

Adwords: I understand, but our policy states that if a site is found in violation of our landing page policies you must make the site compliant.

Me: Okay but I no longer own the sites so making them compliant is not an option. What will happen if I do just delete the ad groups?

Adwords: I understand but our policy states that if a site is found in violation of our landing page policies you must make the site compliant and if you delete the campaign or ad group before making the changes your account can be suspended.

[Blood Pressure Is Now Spiking]

Me: So how would you recommend I make these sites compliant if I no longer own them?

Adwords: You should contact whomever owns these sites and ask them to make them compliant.

Me: So you really think if I contact someone out of the blue and ask them to make their site compliant to appease Adwords (which they obviously do not use) and save my Adwords account they are going to listen?

Adwords: [pause]… Probably not.

Me: So you can see my predicament right?

Adwords: Yes… But our policy states that if a site is found in violation of our landing page policies you must make the site compliant.

Me: So what would you recommend as the “Adw0rds Expert” here?

Adwords: Well I guess you should just delete the campaigns and then if your account gets suspended you could try explaining your situation and maybe they will lift the suspension.

Me: Will that work?

Adwords: Well our policy states that if a site is found in violation of our landing page policies you must make the site compliant so I am not sure. Is there anything else I can help you with today?

Me: No.

Adwords: After the call ends you will be asked to take a short customer satisfaction survey!

Me: Your kidding right?


I am not going to lie… I really did want to sling some verbal abuse her way purely for self gratification but I am pretty sure if I did she had access to “The Button” that would instantly wipe any record of me off the Internet so it took every ounce of self control but I kept my mouth shut.

The Lesson I Want Everyone To Learn…

I did learn a hard lesson here and wanted to make sure you don’t get caught in the same situation…

If you have an Adwords account and have paused a campaign or ad group and you do not intend to turn it back on, make sure all traces of it are deleted because if you let the domain expire and someone else picks it up and builds a site on it YOU could be penalized for something you have NO control over.

And as you can see from my pleasant experience, Google has a set of rules that they follow… even when they make no sense whatsoever.

Had a similar experience? Know how to solve my predicament? ;-)… I would love to hear from you in the comments section below.



  1. Hi Derek,

    I missed this earlier in the year, but my Adsense account was blocked in 2008 because – “Your site presents a danger to our advertisers”. Why? Well, someone – probably a competitor – clicked on my ads 46 times on the second day I was running a campaign. I was absolutely amazed at this and despite countless appeals, even writing to Sergey Brin (with a copy in Russian too), this mantra was repeated over and over and I am still banned. Oh…did I not say… I am also banned from Adwords also!

    Google are pretty tough when they want to be.

    Incidentally, I met with you in London at the Hilton, Edware, when you came here a few years ago – this was in your IMC days – and had my pic taken with you.

  2. Steve B

    For anyone that is still doing this, I would hang up and call back again. This call agent seems to be new because he keeps repeating the same thing and does not have enough experience in the company to give an answer. I used to work at a call center and seen this all the time. New employees cant do much and only offers what seems safe advise for them to give. More experience employees gives actual advise and if needs too, hands the call to a manager.

  3. I’ve been banned from Adwords. I believe it was for some similar reason as it happened long after I stopped my campaigns. I didn’t bother though as I’ve decided not to use Adwords anymore.

  4. Hi Derek, it is quite nice to hear that someone else is still using Adwords, as i do, however, not to the degree that you do. I think it is simply a case of Google thinking they are above everything and that the rules that apply to all of us do not apply to them. It is sad really, that the people who helped create Google into what it is are treated so badly.

    But, mark my words, things have a way of going around full circle and at some point in the future they will regret having treated people so poorly. They should take a leaf out of Tony Hsieh’s book and how he deals with customers!!!

  5. Gordon R

    Thanks for the laugh, it is much funnier when you hear someone else tell this story. I wasn’t laughing on the days that I had the very same moronic conversations with them, via the phone and e-mail. Weeks of time were wasted trying to make the second chance site compliant, to find that when it was compliant, they couldn’t help me because I could not change the content in a domain name I promoted 2 years earlier. I have no access to or control over the domain, so there is no way of making it compliant. Just living in hope now that one day they will change their policy to accommodate this situation that must be affecting a growing number of people. I will keep appealing every 6 months or so to see if they do.

  6. Hi Derek,

    Just checking in on your site as I saw your interview today on Channel News Asia in Singapore.

    I am sure you have a lot more experience with google and such but I like to share a pleasant experience that I had with google last year.

    I received the dreaded Suspension of Adsense Account one day. Although my site brings in miniscule adsense revenue, it was nevertheless a huge shock for an amateur like me.

    After emailing Google a couple of times, explaining that I am not responsible for the unusual clicks, they agreed to just delete the adsense revenue for the said day and restore my account.

    This is not to defend google or anything. Just to share my one and only correspondence experience with google.

    By the way, your TV interview was watched with great interest by my colleagues in the office. 🙂


  7. Frankly, being a third person reading this blog, I found it hilarious and was laughing my a*s off reading it. But if I put myself in your shoes – and I had similar experiences with “dumb” representatives from other big companies such as Eb*y – I know what you’ve been through. It’s just mind boggling and blood vomiting.

  8. WTF!!!? If it wasn’t actually true it would be funny! Kind of reminds me of the Cheech & Chong comedy skit “Dave’s not here man!”

    • Derek

      Yeah… when I got off the phone I didn’t know whether I should laugh or cry.

  9. Vishen Lakhiani, I may take you up on that! If anything, I just want to come hang out at what looks like a very cool office! Once I have my final schedule I will let you know… would be great to at least grab lunch. I think I’m in KL for only one day this time but I will be back in June and will be there for a longer stretch.

  10. Derek Gehl, I can help. We do really well with Google. In fact Google has someone in our office weekly to help with our campaigns. I see you’re in Kuala Lumpur Mar 17. Come stop by Mindvalley HQ

  11. the power of google eh! i suppose we have to look t social media and like always think what and how are audience, what do they want how can we give it to them, it’s about changing the mindset, thinking about not selling but giving and then selling, but Derek you know this better than anyone 🙂

  12. Social media is giving us different traffic sources but converting traffic off social is not as easy/profitable yet. Banner advertising works in some industries but not in the majority of micro niches. I have some larger clients that have taken a run at Google through legal channels with zero success. Google has deep pockets and the ability to tie up even the biggest companies in costly legal battles. The only way to get Google to change their practices is to offer the consumer another viable search engine because until that exists, convincing enough businesses to quit using Adwords will be tough.

  13. hum very true, its all about trying to get momentum. The problem is if people with the power don’t take actionh Google will do what they want with us.It’s a double edge sword do we bite the hands that feed us. However what else is out there, to many say that there’s just google but perhaps there’s other ways to drive traffic

  14. That’s crossed my mind Richard… The question is, who would lead the charge? They have too much power right now and if you want to sell online you have to find a way to play nice with Google or they can cut off the flow or traffic and sales hide behind their ‘policies’. I would send my business to Bing but they just don’t have the market share. I think it’s going to take regulations being handed down at a federal level to make them play nice.

  15. Interesting derek. Same thing happened to me. after a number of emails. Each with the same. Content as you mention they just banned my account

    I just wonder should we as. Community give google a slap and vote with our wallets. After all they just seem to do what they want regardless.

    Interested in your view

  16. billy

    me too google adword is suck…

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