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How to get your AdWords ads approved

11 May 2018

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Google has quite extensive and detailed rules when it comes to online advertising. These rules are in place to protect both website visitors and rules-abiding advertisers. But we know from experience that even if you sell harmless products and try to follow the rules, you may still get the disapproved status on your ads. To help you get your ads online, we compiled tips for e-commerce stores on how to get your AdWords ads approved.

The ad approval process

The Google ad approval process relies on both algorithms and human work. Each ad needs to be checked before it gets published. The length of the approval process may range anywhere from a couple of hours to 2 days. The Google approval process is a bit time-consuming. But if the approval process isn’t done in 2 days, it’s a sign that there might be something wrong with your ad.


Now let’s take a look at the restrictions for your ads.

AdWords ad requirements

The requirements can be generally divided into prohibited content and practices, restricted content, and technical requirements.

Prohibited ad content and practices

Every ad that falls into the category of prohibited content or practices will be surely disapproved. This includes advertising of any illegal products or trying to cheat your customers.

You cannot advertise counterfeit products or products that copy other brands. Dangerous materials like illegal drugs, explosive materials, weapons and ammunition, tobacco products (for those who are interested in e-cigarettes business, Google doesn’t view vaporizer ads as prohibited but as ads for e-liquids), or any other deceitful products and services such fake documents cannot be advertised either.

Ads, of course, cannot contain any inappropriate content such racist or hateful texts or images, cruelty to animals, etc.

Ad practices that aim to cheat web visitors, for example, an ad that leads somewhere else than it says, ads that offer something that isn’t available or make unrealistic claims concerning weight loss or monetary gain, are forbidden as well.

Restricted ad content

The category of restricted content includes any products that are not illegal but are potentially harmful or inappropriate for some Google users. Ads for any restricted content are highly monitored, allowed under strict conditions, and very difficult to get approved.

The largest group of restricted products includes adult content, alcohol, and healthcare and medicine.

Adult content ads such as ads for sex toys or adult magazines are allowed only if they are in compliance with the local laws and don’t target the minors. Such ads will be shown in only very limited scenarios. They run only on the Google search network and only if the user searches for specific (adult oriented) content and is of certain age. They cannot be run on the Google Display network, and some countries don’t allow them at all; see the list here.

Alcohol and drinks that resemble alcohol such as non-alcoholic beer or non-alcoholic distilled spirits (apparently that’s a thing now) are deemed restricted. Some ads for alcohol are allowed, but only in countries explicitly allowing alcohol ads; such ads must not target the minors (remember that the drinking age in different countries varies).

Healthcare and medicines products can be advertised only in some cases and only by advertisers certified by Google. They can target only the approved countries to ensure the ads are in compliance with the local rules. This category includes products such as sport supplements that promise muscle gain or weight loss and other supplements that promise to improve health.

More ads content is deemed restricted by Google, but this content is not directly connected to e-commerce stores. The complete list can be found here.

Tips to get your AdWords ads approved


1. Write quality ads

Always remember that the quality of the ads is one of the main factors Google considers when approving the ads. The best way to write good ads is to write simple. The ad headline should say what you offer in 2-4 words and mention your brand or the store name. For example: High-quality sneakers | Shoeshop.com. Don’t spam your ad with CAPS LOCK and don’t use bait words like FREE in your headline. Offers for free shipping, coupons and other, should be included in the ad description.

2. Check your ad for errors before submitting

One of the most common reasons why ads aren’t approved is that people submit them with editorial mistakes. Always try to read carefully what you write and use a text editor to check your errors. The most common errors include double spaces between words. It’s tricky because they are almost invisible at first sight. But Google will not approve ads with more than one space in the row, so if you have an ad that you can’t get approved, check the spaces.

Emoticons, more than one kind of punctuation in a row or texts that say “click here” are not approved as well. So try to stay away from these things when writing your ads.

3. Check your landing page before submitting

A landing page corresponding to your ad is also one of the necessary things you need to get your ad approved. The landing page should include as similar message to your ad message as possible. Both the landing page and the ad should also contain the same keywords.

If you advertise sneakers, your landing page has to be listing the sneakers you offer. If you offer a certain model of Nike Air Max, the page should lead directly to the page with this model. Also, remember to check your landing page before you submit the ad. If you submit the ad with a wrong or not working landing page, Google will disapprove the ad, and you will have to submit it again.

4. Don’t make changes before you get the result

Google has to approve every ad after every change before it can be published. If you change the ad during the approval process, the process will start again. This means two more days before your ad is up and running.

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