Are you aware of the latest Google policy updates? You should be. Understanding the primary search engine is vital for your marketing efforts.
Marketing on Google is like having a spot in the world's biggest arena. It's an opportunity for brands to shine and reach millions of potential customers. But only if you follow the rules and guidelines.
Google's policies ensure every ad maintains integrity and a safe online environment. Violating them results in bans, wasted money, and lost potential.
How do you avoid this scenario? By knowing the rules and following them to the T. Join us to learn about Google policies and the latest updates in various industries.
ADVERTISING ON GOOGLE
Advertising on Google is accessible to businesses of all sizes, locations, and reputations. This platform balances its open nature with the need to maintain a healthy ecosystem. As a result, it imposes rules on its users.
Google only allows professional-looking ads that lead viewers to relevant content. No deceptive statements, explicit imagery, or misleading links.
The ads must meet a certain quality standard. Incorrect grammar, sensational language, and excessive exclamation points are discouraged. A set of editorial requirements is there to avoid subpar marketing.
There's another factor for brick-and-mortar businesses and services that involve visiting people's homes. These brands need a Business Profile, which lets customers find them on Maps and Search.
Besides marketing, you must represent your business online as it is in the real world. This requirement refers to signs, stationery, and any other branding.
ABOUT GOOGLE POLICIES
Google policies are rules, guidelines, and terms of service established by the platform. They cover workspaces, app platforms, development—and ads.
The platform uses a combination of human and artificial intelligence (AI) evaluation. They review advertisements to keep users safe. Content and accounts that violate policies get temporarily or permanently suspended.
What restrictions do advertisers face, and how do you stay on Google's whitelist? Here are the general rules of the platform.
Ads and destinations may get banned for shocking imagery, discrimination, violence, or intolerance. These behaviors belong to the category of "inappropriate content." They include intimidation, graphic images, animal cruelty, blackmail, and the use of profanities.
Promoting products and services designed to enable dishonest behavior is banned. Think fake document generators, hacking software, and academic cheating tools.
Advertising harmful and counterfeit goods counts as a severe violation. Brands mimicking another or selling potentially dangerous products could get suspended.
Beyond ad content, Google might ban businesses for inappropriate advertising practices. These behaviors can get you into trouble:
- Abusing the ad network. This practice involves ads and destinations that circumvent the review process. For instance, malware-carrying content or cloaking a link's direction.
- Unsafe data collection and use. Websites may collect customer information, but only for previously declared purposes. Shared and stored data requires utmost care.
- Misrepresentation. Every ad must have clear pricing, terms, and offers. Transparency requirements apply to additional charges, product availability, and features.
Brands may advertise in legally or culturally sensitive markets, but with a limited scope.
Age restrictions are the primary protection mechanism imposed by Google. They apply to sexual content, intoxicating substances, gambling, and other marketing inappropriate for minors.
Businesses in industries with patchy legality face content restrictions. Google only lets them run ads in areas with legal gambling or cannabis, for example.
Healthcare and financial services belong to the "your money or your life" (YMYL) niche. They require certifications and must abide by industry regulations.
GOOGLE POLICY UPDATES EXPLAINED
Google regularly updates its policies, even more so in regulated industries. To stay informed about the latest developments, you can:
- Check the Google Ads Policy Center. This platform contains detailed information about advertising policies for various industries.
- Contact Google Support. They respond to specific questions and clarify ways updates impact your brand.
- Subscribe to notifications. Google often sends email notifications about policy changes. Check your Google Ads account settings to ensure you're getting them.
- Join industry forums: Some industry-specific associations share policy information. These communities also give you helpful insights into how these rules may affect you.
That's for future updates, but what about right now? Let's discuss some of the latest updates concerning all industries in 2023.
Google Marketing Live 2023 focused on using AI to improve the Search and Performance Max. These updates boost visibility and targeting options for businesses. You can now have the system optimize ads for re-engagement and identify key customers.
There are two new campaign models: Video View and Demand Generation. The former boosts video views with formats like skippable, in-stream, and Shorts ads. The latter uses AI to prompt actions from consumers.
An Ads Transparency policy has recently come out. It's a searchable hub of ads served by verified companies on Google. It includes the ads this business has run in different regions and the last date an ad ran.
Another change is arriving in November 2023. It applies to unqualified advertisers who haven't reached a verified status. They face limited ad serving until they build trust with Google and become qualified.
These limits apply to two ad types. Generic ads without branding may get suspended. Those with unclear offers to customers face potential bans, too.
The latest updates are all about boosting the success of quality-checked companies. Be sure to acquire the required certifications to make the most of them.
Updates for Restricted Industries
Businesses from restricted industries sometimes jump through hoops to get their ads approved. Policies change with laws and attitudes, though.
Let's explore the recent rules for several large yet restricted industries.
Google generally bans paid promotion of cannabis, even for educational purposes. Brands must rely on organic searches to get any traffic. Its rules remain strict, but they've loosened early this year.
In January 2023, Google lifted its cannabis advertising ban for hemp-derived CBD. It lets you market FDA-approved CBD medicine and topical products with under 0.3% THC. A brand must be LegalScript-certified to promote its products.
This certification involves third-party testing and Google certification. Currently, it's available only in California, Colorado, and Puerto Rico.
Google allows some forms of gambling advertising. Marketing is possible for companies that receive a Google Ads certificate. Their promotions must meet these three criteria:
- Targeting only countries and states that allow gambling
- Displaying responsible gambling information on the landing page
- Never targeting or appealing to minors
In February 2023, Google expanded its allowed states list for online horse racing ads. It included Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania on the permitted country list. You must still apply for a certification to run your campaign.
Sexual content is a strict category on Google. The platform allows such content only in limited cases. It considers user age, local laws, and SafeSearch settings.
Advertisers can belong to strongly or moderately restricted categories. The former includes nudity and sexual encounter promotions. The latter involves partial nudity, sexual merchandise and entertainment, and sexually suggestive themes.
The last Google update on adult entertainment arrived in March 2021. It limited sexually suggestive live streaming, chat, role-playing games, and dating. Such content is publishable, but only in certain countries and formats.
The healthcare advertising regulations on Google must follow laws and industry standards. Most vendors in mainstream and alternative medicine face restrictions.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers can advertise only with certification. Promoting medications for animals was banned until June 2023. Now, you can market animal drugs not prone to human abuse.
What about alternative healthcare?
In most cases, supplement brands may advertise on Google. Still, the platform has a list of banned drugs, supplements, weight loss aids, and steroids. You may get banned for promoting products with harmful herbal ingredients, too.
Brands must not make false or misleading health claims. Non-government-approved drugs marketed as safe for a condition also raise alarm bells. Keep your promises realistic and your information science-backed, and you're good.
Financial services are subject to state and local regulations. Google expects brands to do their research and keep their activities above board.
Most importantly, you must provide relevant disclosures for products and services. Doing so helps customers make sound financial decisions. These rules apply to loans, fees, and any claims of government affiliation.
Only licensed providers and aggregators may market speculative financial services. They need certification and can only target regions with suitable local laws.
The latest policy update is aimed at fraud reduction. It demands financial advertisers prove they were authorized in their region. Google also introduced a stricter verification process.
Firearms and Weapons
In response to growing concerns about gun violence, Google stands against weapon advertisements. Internet sellers struggle to promote firearms and cold weapons on the platform.
Companies promoting weapons and associated products can't market on Google. The only permitted products are the ones that increase gun safety, like locks and blocks. Archery equipment counts as hobby paraphernalia and counts as allowed.
It's hard for weapon brands to target specific keywords, as the platform flags most of them. Even if an ad gets approved, it reaches narrow audiences and geographic areas.
The latest updates on the dangerous product category only tightened these restrictions. Companies should rely on organic searches to get traffic.
NAVIGATING GOOGLE POLICIES
Figuring out how to navigate Google's policies is essential for brands. You must understand everything about the service used and your particular industry.
Determine the guidelines and limits, and detail your marketing plan accordingly. It's the best way to avoid troubles down the line.
Updates are frequent, so make it a habit to revisit policies. Doing so lets you stay up-to-date with changes and additions.
Regarding restricted industries, it's always best to be thorough. Know the law in your area and familiarize yourself with ad limits. Prioritize transparency, including as many reputable sources and disclaimers as possible. These practices improve your organic and paid traffic.
It's possible to get your ads approved even in the trickiest industry. Plus, Google will tell you which policies you violated if you fail.
Run through these steps to see why your ads may be restricted or prohibited:
- Ad text format. Ensure you're concise, grammatically correct, and using creative calls to action. Avoid bold claims without backing, words in all-caps, and exclamation points.
- Correct specifications. The product name, pricing, and details must correspond to the ad and product page. Google discourages misleading and incorrect information.
- Legality considerations. Ensure your product or service is legal in the area you're targeting. The search engine won't allow activities banned by the country.
- Disclaimers. Add relevant warnings to everything related to the YMYL niche. Google won't accept ads in this field from any site it considers not authoritative.
Reach out to Google if the problem persists. The company has a responsive help center and community forums with ample information.
KEY TAKEAWAYS & NEXT STEPS
Today's digital landscape is dynamic and saturated with offers. As a result, navigating Google policies becomes crucial for running an online business. Only compliant brands enjoy traffic, so strategize your marketing with guidelines in mind.
The situation changes often, so keep an eye on updates. Check the laws in your region and Google policies before each campaign. Seek clarification where needed and err on the side of caution.
Consult digital marketing experts to stay on the platform's good side. Discuss your advertising needs today for better traffic tomorrow.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.