How to Fix Disapproved Google Ads, Step by Step

Google Ads announced a three-strike system for ad disapprovals, which means understanding your disapproval causes and fixes just jumped the priority list.

Ad disapprovals aren’t always due to outright policy violations.

Sometimes a wording choice or a keyword can cause an otherwise valid ad to get disapproved.

In this edition of Ask the PPC, we’re going to tackle:

  • What causes ad disapprovals?
  • How do you appeal ad disapprovals?
  • When is it time to chat with a Google representative?

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It’s important to note that this post is based on first-hand experience and the stated Google policies.

What Causes Ad Disapprovals?

Google is fanatical in its quest for great user experience. Keeping that in mind, there are certain rules of engagement that apply to all ads:

  • Headlines can’t be all caps.
  • Only one exclamation point per ad and it can only be in the description.
  • Using trademarks requires special permissions for the ad account.
  • No advertising dangerous or dubiously legal products/services.
  • No redirects.

Redirects are a common and celebrated practice in SEO, so it’s important that any redirects are communicated and accounted for.

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Ads leading to broken links or redirects almost always get disapproved within a few hours. However, depending on the 404 error experience, your ad might still “work.”

Be sure to audit your landing pages at least once per quarter to ensure they’re still working as you intend.

Google’s rules on dangerous categories are pretty cut and dried. What’s less clear is how tangential industries can get flagged by automated checks.

Based on feedback from Google reps, the following can cause disapprovals:

  • Keywords in a restricted industry (even if your service is not).
  • Demographic targeting/exclusions/bid adjustments in a restricted industry.
  • Landing pages missing information or positioning offerings in a way that makes the product/service seem restricted.

How to Appeal a Disapproved Ad

There are two ways to fix a disapproved ad:

  • Make edits to the ad, forcing a review.
  • Submit an appeal to either dispute the issue or affirm you’ve made changes in compliance with Google policies.

If you opt to edit the ad, the following changes will work:

  • Change the path.
  • Add an asset to the Responsive Search/Display ad.
  • Change the Final URL (can be the original URL – just copy and paste it).
  • Make a slight adjustment to a headline or description.

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Note that changing ads starts them over, so this should only be done if the ad has been flagged.

To do an A/B test on creative, it’s better to copy the ad and make adjustments to the copy.

If you opt to appeal the decision (accessed by hovering over the ad status), you’ll be given the option to appeal for:

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  • Current ad group.
  • Current campaign.
  • Entire account.

It can take 1-2 days for a final verdict. Be sure to budget at least 1-2 weeks into your launch plan if you’re in a restricted or restricted-adjacent industry.

When to Chat With a Google Representative

Once you’ve gone through the manual appeal or review process, it’s time to pull in a Google rep!

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Google reps will ask whether you’ve already appealed/edited the ad, so be sure you’ve tried that first.

Google reps can be reached by chat, phone, or email. It’s important to note that if they need to call you back, there won’t be a set time (sometimes calls are rather late).

Be prepared in your chat with the specific ad group, campaign, and specifics of your product/service. Google reps won’t always know the ins and outs, so if you’re in a tangential industry, you might need to provide extra context.

Examples include:

  • Language around APR rates.
  • Third-party verification of your services.
  • Proof that you’re not an employment, housing, credit, or medicinal product/service.

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After chatting with a Google rep, you’ll receive a case number. Save it so if you get hit with disapprovals again, you can cite the specific instructions you were given and prove that you followed the advice from the Google rep.

Takeaway

Sometimes Google gets ad approvals/disapprovals wrong. Don’t be afraid to appeal and advocate for your creative and brand.

With that said, be mindful that most of the ad quality checking is done through automation so you’ll need to build in extra time for launch.

Have a question about PPC? Submit via this form or tweet me @navahf with the #AskPPC tag. See you next month!

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Screenshot taken by author, August 2021

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