9 Reasons Your AdWords Ad Was Disapproved – And How to Fix It


It’s no big secret that Google has been cracking down on ad disapprovals lately. The search powerhouse is becoming stricter in order to better regulate the quality of ads being shown to users. On the managed services team here at WordStream, we work with many accounts from various industries, and it seems that all industries are being affected. Google is even digging into paused ads and flagging disapprovals.

google ad disapproved

Why You Should Care About Ad Disapprovals

For frequent, repeat offenders, Google is entitled to suspend your AdWords account. Obviously a suspended account means that ads are not being shown at all, so your company will see an overall decrease in leads and conversions.

On another note, agencies should keep in mind that clients get the disapproval emails too. This can make the agency look very sloppy and will come across to the client that you’re not handling the account well.

adwords ad disapprovals

What to Do When Your Ad Gets Disapproved

Most small and medium-sized businesses don’t have a lot of time to put into their PPC efforts. These ad disapprovals can be annoying and time-consuming. The best course of action is to fix any live ad disapprovals. On the other hand, if a paused ad is flagged as disapproved, the best course of action for busy business owners wearing multiple hats is to just delete the ad from the account. This way, the pesky disapproval will be forever out of your hair.

When your AdWords ad is disapproved, in most cases it is fine to simply write over the old ad. Most disapproved ads won’t have any historical data anyway, seeing as they were never allowed to run. See below for some common mistakes you might be making.

9 Common Reasons for Ad Disapprovals in AdWords

Here are a few common reasons why your ads are being flagged, and how to fix them:

  • Your ad mentions themes deemed inappropriate by Google. Stay away from anything having to do with adult-oriented content, gambling, counterfeit goods, dangerous products (like fireworks), and offensive content.
  • Your ad makes mention of copyrighted content. If another company has a copyright over certain words, you’ll be flagged for using them. Find a synonym to use instead.
  • You included your company’s business phone number in the ad text. Google will flag ads with the number in the actual ad text, but you can use phone extensions, which raise your Quality Scores and lower your CPCs. It’s like killing two birds with one stone.
  • Your ad claims your company is #1 or the “best in business.” Unless a third party supports your claim, these kind of statements are not allowed in the ad text. Instead, try using another complimentary tagline, like “Customers Love Us!”
  • Your ad text is too long. Remember, the headline can be 25 characters and each description line and the display URL can be 35 characters. The only exception to this rule is when the targeted country’s national language has lengthy words, like Kazakhstan and Russia. The trick is to keep ads simple and to the point.
  • Your ad contains words that are in all caps. (ex. HUGE SALE – SHOP NOW). The only exception to this rule is if you’re highlighting a promotional code. (Ex. 20% Off – Use Code: SAVE20)
  • Your ad contains “trick-to-click” text. Any ad that says “click here” in the ad text will be immediately flagged. Try using a different call to action, like “Shop Now!”
  • Your ad has too many exclamation points. Try to not get too excited over AdWords. Remember, only one exclamation point per ad is allowed. Also, no exclamation points are allowed in the headline of the ad.
  • Your root domain is different in the display URL and the destination URL. Google policies require that the root domain be the same. For example, you can’t have catsarecool.com in the display URL and then use dogsarecool.com for the destination URL. The roots must be consistent, apples to apples – oranges to oranges.

Ad disapprovals can be very pesky and can tank an account for repeat offenders. Keep these common fixes in mind, and remember to always fix an ad disapproval when it appears.

About the Author

Helen Edwards is a Paid Search Coordinator at WordStream. This past May, she graduated with highest honors from Suffolk University with degrees in Marketing and Entrepreneurship. Outside of PPC, Helen enjoys bonding with her Airedale Terrier and trying out new restaurants. Additionally, as a former competitive figure skater, she still closely follows the sport. Feel free to connect with Helen on LinkedIn.



Mary Jo Murphy
Nov 25, 2014

Helen -Great points :)Also keep trademark infringement in mind, below is an article about a case in South Africa where the parties are tyring to establish definitively what keywords can & cannot include with regards to ads and infringing use of another's trademarks. http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/11/25/keyword-advertising-the-next-instalment-in-the-interflora-v-ms-saga/?utm_source=IP-Watch+Subscribers&utm_campaign=693f5c55e7-DAILY_SUMMARY&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b78685696b-693f5c55e7-352137153Best,Mary Jo 

Priyanka Kamble
Nov 27, 2014

Helen, Excellent article on why ads are getting refused by Google. We as a digital marketing agency will keep this in mind the next time we are advertising for opur clients on any online site  

Ketharaman Swaminathan (GTM360 Marketing Solutions)
Nov 28, 2014

Nice list but there are a couple of reasons that would result in the ad getting rejected even at the time of their creation and won't make it to the disapproval email you've mentioned e.g. copyright, root domain. On another note, my company provides implementation and upgrade services around SAP and Oracle. There's no synonym for SAP or Oracle. Our ad must mention these two brand names. How can we prevent our ad from getting disapproved?

Helen Edwards
Dec 02, 2014

Great question! It can be tricky to include well established trademarked terms, such as SAP and Oracle in ad text. My advice would be to try to get written permission from Oracle to use the terms in your ads. If you receive that, then you can request an exception to Google. Best of luck! Helen 

Thomas Gunter
Dec 22, 2014

Thanks for the valuable lesson I wish I Had read this before I started using Adwords it coul have saved me a lot of time.

Sep 16, 2016

Thank you for sharing such a great article. it is very informative.
reasons for disapprove of add should be known before applying for an add in ad words. after reading this article we wont do mistakes while applying for an add.

Mar 30, 2017

it's a great topic and perfect guidance for PPC advertisers. By the way - your "Face of Disapproval" pic is awesome.

Saudagar Ali
Apr 08, 2017

It is very nice and useful information. i like it. Thanks for sharing this information with us...........

Kashif Malik
Oct 15, 2017

Nice and informative blogs thanks for sharing potential knowledge. but I have a request. I deal in tech support vertical Hope it gonna help me or anything which I required to know more about tech support business which can help me to drive good conversion please help me I can go with premier support.

Oct 24, 2017

accounts from various industries, and it seems that all industries are being affected. Google is even digging into paused ads and flagging disapprovals.

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