Google's AdWords Policy Update: What SMBs Need to Know

July 23, 2018

New AdWords Policy Means Quality & Relevancy Matter Most. PPC audits recommended.

AdWords Policy Update

Google has updated its AdWords policy to place an even stronger focus on the quality of paid search advertising. This policy goes into effect today. While Google’s Quality Score has always been an important metric for any PPC campaign, this time it appears that Google really means business: marketers that do not heed its new policy updates demanding relevance, clarity and accuracy risk receiving penalties. Your ads could be disapproved and in some cases your domain could even get suspended. Serious violations risk account suspension.

New AdWords Policy on Relevance, Clarity, & Accuracy

The new AdWords policy focuses on enforcing standards of relevance, clarity and accuracy in text ads, ensuring that users aren’t misled by your ad messaging. Below are just a few of the specific rules now being enforced by Google (you can find the full list here):

  • Ads and keywords must directly relate to content on the landing page or the topic/business model of a site
  • Generalized call-to-action phrases such as Click Here or Click +1 are forbidden
  • No poor grammar or illogical ad text
  • Phone numbers cannot be used in sitelinks

I think this is serious stuff, especially for small businesses with limited time and money for search marketing. But there’s no reason for panic. Put down the Tums. There’s an opportunity here for small business marketers to reevaluate their AdWords strategies, find areas where results can be improved and even opportunities to save money.

Updated AdWords Policy = Time for a PPC Audit?!

With Google's increased focus on quality and relevancy, I believe that PPC marketers should use today’s news as a reminder to perform an audit of their PPC campaigns. There's no time like the present to find out if your AdWords account is suffering from quality issues. But PPC audits are totally complicated and time-consuming, not to mention expensive, right?

Wrong! Our free tool, the AdWords Performance Grader, is basically a PPC audit in a box. It really is completely free and it takes around 20 seconds to run and get a complete report on your AdWords account performance. For example, we’ll conduct an audit of the quality scores of the keywords in your account, and compare how your quality scores compare to those of other similar companies that we’ve recently graded, as shown here:

AdWords Policy

In this example, the advertiser in question has an average quality score of just 3.8/10. And you can see that they have quite a few impressions happening with keywords with quality score 3 and 4. That’s quite a lot worse than what we see in other, similar accounts (see the yellow, recommended curve), which have many more impressions happening on keywords with Quality Scores of 6 & 7! This advertiser is in the 15th percentile for Quality Score, compared to similar accounts we’ve graded in the past. Meaning, out of 100 similar advertisers, this advertiser ranks in the bottom 15%; they appear to be struggling with quality and relevancy issues in their AdWords account.

In addition to benchmarking your Quality Score, our Free AdWords Grader report does a comprehensive analysis of 7 other key PPC metrics in your account including:

  • Wasted Spend / Use of Negative Keywords
  • Click Through Rates
  • Landing Page Analysis
  • Ad Text Analysis
  • Long Tail Keyword Optimization
  • Impression Share Analysis
  • Adherence with Google Best Practices

For each of the above key areas in your AdWords Performance Report, you’ll get a detailed overview of how you’re doing, how your account performance stacks up relative to other  accounts that we’ve seen, as well as tips for improving your score. So don’t wait for the account suspension email. Get ahead of the new AdWords policies while improving the quality and relevance of your account. Grade your AdWords account today!

Hit me up on Twitter

Follow @larrykim

Larry Kim

Larry Kim

Larry Kim is the founder of WordStream and CEO of MobileMonkey, a chatbot building platform.

Sign up to get our top tips and tricks weekly!