In today’s post, I’m going to be answering a question about Google suspension.
A few months ago, I would not have taken this question on because it was literally an issue I had never dealt with and I didn’t have much to say on it other than to try to stay in Google’s good graces by not doing anything shady and if it happens, to just reach out to Google until it gets resolved. Now, I fully understand. And even at that time, I fully understood that just because you get an account suspended doesn’t mean you were doing something wrong.
But I just hadn’t dealt with it. I had not had an account in seven or eight years that had been suspended, so it wasn’t on my radar. That changed a couple of months ago. Let me read the question for today and then I’ll get into my experience and how you may be able to learn from it if you have an account suspended.
The question comes from Nicholas and he asks:
“It is very difficult to get Google support to help when a suspension happens. I would like to ask about Google AdWords Suspension: Suspicious activity in payments. What are the possible reasons and the steps to getting it unsuspended? Thanks.”
Okay, so whatever suspension you’re dealing with, swap it. It doesn’t necessarily need to be suspicious activity in payments. Some of these suspension reasons are more obvious than others in terms of what you need to do to change to get things turned around.
But let’s assume that your account gets suspended and you weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Okay, if you were doing something out of the ordinary, if you are doing something obviously shady, this episode really isn’t for you. You just need to figure out what rules you violated, see if you can fix it, and then appeal to Google to get that reversed. They may or may not do that, and if you were doing something shady to begin with, I really don’t care if they reverse their decision for you or not. This episode is for people who are not doing anything shady. The suspensions are a huge blow right when we’re just operating like normal and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, with no warning, because it’s never come with any warnings and our accounts get suspended.
It really ruins the day. Suddenly, you have a huge fire to put out now. Like I said, I hadn’t dealt with this for a long time until a couple of months ago. Google went through a string of a seemingly large batch of accounts that they decided they were going to suspend and, at that time, it was for this exact reason suspicious activity in payments. Or recently, I had an account suspended for a different reason I’ll get to that in a little bit here.
But it was suspicious activity in payments, we had an account we just launched a new client and BAM! We get hit with suspicious activity and payments.
Okay, we start going through the protocol. There is an appeal to file when this happens, so we filed the appeal and are waiting for a response. In the meantime, we launch another new client and BAM! Same thing – suspicious activity and payments, and this new client also gets suspended.
Okay, so now we’re wondering what’s going on, but no lightning can strike twice, so we stick to the program and submit another appeal for the new account.
We would also probably submit another appeal for the first account that had been suspended because now, we’re waiting again. We have these two accounts that are suspended and waiting for the appeal to come back and BAM! A third suspension! A third new client that we were trying to launch and the account gets suspended for suspicious activity in payments.
So now we’re like, “What is going on? So I reached out to some other people in some other mastermind groups that I’m in and, sure enough, the same thing is happening to other agencies. They’re getting accounts in a row suspended for suspicious activity and payments.
Now, we’re really starting to get worried. We haven’t heard anything back on these first accounts and, as we’re worried, we had two more accounts that had already been started and also get suspended. So, in the period of about two weeks, as we’re trying to launch five clients, all of them get suspended. This was only happening on these new accounts that we were trying to launch so we weren’t just sitting around waiting for Google. One thing that we did was set up alternate accounts in case these ones never came back.
These didn’t work out, so we started to set up alternate accounts. If we needed to, we could hit ‘Go’ on these other accounts and we wouldn’t have to wait. Another problem would be that we wait for Google to make a determination that says, “We’re going to keep this suspension.”
And then, at that time, we have to figure out how to set up a new account, and then it takes another week to get things going.
So we didn’t want to waste that time because we were already spending time just dealing with the suspension. We were just getting things ready, just getting the targeting and everything ready and another account in case we needed to change course.
So long story short.
Then, I’ll get to the more recent instance.
We just stuck with the protocol. We submitted our appeals, highlighted the fact that you know we are an agency, and this is affecting our ability to launch new clients, which obviously benefits Google.
We do not see any violation, as far as we can tell. There have been no violations of the suspicious activity.
And we stuck with that. We also have a Google rep that we brought into this that wasn’t much help. That didn’t help because there’s really a specific team at Google who deals with this stuff and all they can really do is escalate it to that team, but they can’t send it to a specific person in the department. So, that’s why we really had to stick to the protocol. Because so many other accounts were having the same issue, that’s why it ended up taking so long. A couple weeks in, we finally got word back on the first account. Things were good again and we were able to launch right away. After that, all of these accounts that ended up getting suspended were able to launch and everything was good.
It’s an unfortunate situation. It seems like the end of the world at the time, but we knew we hadn’t done anything wrong. We knew the clients’ websites were on the up and up and everything should be good, so we trusted in that. We submitted multiple appeals, but I don’t think that actually helped. I don’t think it sped anything up, but I also don’t think it hurt anything either because we did get all of these unsuspended.
So, we ended up getting everything back. It did take a couple of weeks, which when you’re trying to launch a new client, seems like forever, but we just had to deal with it. We let the clients know what was going on and, eventually, all was good.
More recently, we had an account suspended for unacceptable business practices and this sounded a lot more serious. We knew that the suspicious payment thing should be fine because there weren’t actually fraudulent payments being set up. It was actually the businesses we were working with and their own payment information.
And Google does not take this lightly. In the policy, they say that this is a very serious policy and that they only reinstate accounts in compelling circumstances, so now we’re wondering what is going on with this. This was not a new account, this is an account we had been running for a long time at a relatively high ad spend and suddenly one day, with no warning, gets suspended.
The very first step was to submit the appeal. We submitted the peel the appeal and were as thorough as possible. We go through the policy line by line, basically pointing out that we are not in violation of any one of these lines that the policy talks about.
So we knew none of that was going on. We’d been running ads to the same page for a long time, and nothing was new and nothing was unacceptable. The policy was not actually being violated, so we pointed that out in our appeal to that length.
Because they always want you to change what you’re doing when you’re submitting these appeals, we pointed out that we had nothing to change everything.
We made sure to point out that we believe this was simply an error on Google’s part because we are not in violation of this policy.
Then, we basically had a meeting discussing what the next steps were and figuring out of the other courses of action that we should take because we don’t just want to submit an appeal and then wait around potentially for weeks to see what might happen with it. They might come back and say we’re going to keep this account suspended, so we had a meeting talking about what to do about this and reached out to a Google rep again (I don’t think they can do much, but it doesn’t hurt to try to get more people involved in situations like this).
So while we were still meeting about the next steps that we could take, we get an email back that the account is reinstated. Within a few hours, we went from being suspended for unacceptable business practices to now being reinstated and all is good. All the ads are up and running again. We stuck to the process, we submitted an appeal, and possibly because they didn’t have such a backlog of this time because they hadn’t suspended a million accounts at once, they were able to address this one very quickly and things got turned around.
So, I believe the best course of action, when the suspensions happen, is to submit an appeal and wait it out, however long it takes. If it’s two weeks or two hours, it just needs to be waited out, but what’s important is that you are very thorough in this appeal.
Explain everything you possibly can. Go through the policy that they say you have violated and explain everything you possibly can about that policy.
Of course, if there was something you did that was in violation of that, make sure to correct that, admit to it, change it, and state that you have corrected it.
Hopefully, that works! I can’t say that that’s going to work for everyone all the time, but I wanted to speak from my experience now that I’ve dealt with this a few times.
And I don’t have a secret contact at Google to fix this. Nobody has a secret contact at Google that you can call and get this taken care of. You just need this to trust the process. I believe Google really does want people advertising.
And ultimately, if you show them that you’re going to be a good advertiser and in compliance, they will allow you to advertise on their platform and if they’ve suspended your account in error, they will reinstate it.
Hopefully, that helps and hopefully, you’ve already submitted your appeal and by the time you’re listening to this episode, your account is reinstated.