Google’s AdWords Guidelines In Action

    January 17, 2003

When you choose your ad text for Google, use a hefty dose of caution. As Thai Winds learned, it’s tough to bend Google’s ad rules, even if you’re right.

When Thai Winds decided to use Google’s AdWords program, they wrote their ad in the way that made the most sense from the perspective of their business. They didn’t anticipate what happened next, however – their ad was disapproved, all of their ads with Google were deleted because of the phrases they chose.

Was the judgment fair? Well, it depends upon your perspective. Thai Winds believed they had selected logical terms, while Google could point to some very plainly stated rules that had been violated. Here’s how the events unfolded:

Thai Winds selected what they believed to be the most meaningful keywords for their online business. First, they selected “thai winds,” the name of their business, because their business name is different from their domain name. Next, they selected “thai clothing,” because that is the type of merchandise they carry. Finally, they chose “thai dye” to emphasize a particular type of Thai clothing sold through their store.

Google saw these selections, and balked. Their guidelines clearly state that ad content should not include repeated words. Their belief is that elimination of repetition makes the ad clearer. The penalty for repetition, as Thai Winds discovered, is censure, until the matter is resolved. Until that time, all listings with Google are disabled.

Meanwhile, back at Thai Winds, the SEO professional was dumbfounded. How could he merely include Thai, winds, clothing, and dye? If the word “Thai” was not associated with each term, it made no sense. They didn’t sell dye and had nothing to do with wind. Google suggested the phrase “Thai Clothes and Dyes,” which again was not quite descriptive of what Thai Winds did. Thai Winds protested. Google referred to their guidelines, indicating that they prevent gimmicky ads; Thai Winds insisted that the use of “thai” three times was not gimmicky but descriptive. Google claimed that repetition led to uninformative ads; Thai Winds countered that their ad was informative as it stood. Google again indicated their guidelines were firm; Thai Winds suggested that a case-by-case examination was in order.

After this back and forth, Google approved their ad, finally deciding that the repetition of terms was warranted after all.

What can the average online business learn from Thai Winds’ experience? Perhaps first and foremost, examine Google’s ad guidelines very carefully. Most e-tailers can’t afford to be dropped from Google for even a day while working through difficulties.

There are quite a few rules regarding use of question marks, exclamation marks, capital letters, correct spelling, proper grammar, popups on the landing page, use of superlatives, and much more. Before you write, read. The rules are clear and located at this link:

The other lesson here is that Google isn’t a machine. It’s a company that’s made up of people. If you’re right, and you can afford it, stick to your guns. If you’re positive you’ve done nothing wrong then argue your case, rationally, and eventually you’ll be heard (although pointless arguing will gain you nothing, I’m sure).

It wouldn’t be fair to leave this topic without offering a word in Google’s defense. Google’s guidelines are there to prevent abuse and to actually help the advertisers. In most cases, their blind application of rules to everyone works. If everyone claimed to be the best, cheapest, or shouted in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS, or used excessive punctuation, would you use it?!?!?!? Annoying, isn’t it? If Google’s system was prone to such abuse, then it wouldn’t be the most popular search engine in the world and no one would care to advertise there.

Check out the guidelines before you submit your ad, and help Google maintain an effective ad program by adhering to the rules as much as possible. The odd case may be an exception, but in general, the rules work, and applying them to your ads works toward everyone’s benefit.

Google’s AdWords Guidelines (
Thai Winds (

Jackie Rosenberger is an editor with iEntry, Inc.