Google AdSense is one of the most lucrative ad service used by millions of bloggers all around the world. However, it is also one of the most strict and smart ad network in the world too. Every day, thousands of users are banned from AdSense because they have violated one or more policies laid down by Google.
While some of the policy violations are pretty straightforward, there are some which are really confusing and hard to figure out. I was the victim of one such policy in December 2010 and had received an automated email from Google which had me both confused and scared. I was pretty sure that I was not violating any policies, but Google thought otherwise. The email in question is posted below [some parts have been obscured].
This message was sent from a notification-only email address that does not
accept incoming email. Please do not reply to this message.
While reviewing your account, we noticed that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our policies. For instance, we found violations of AdSense policies on pages such as [redacted]. Please note that this URL is an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of your website.
Publishers are not permitted to alter the behavior of Google ads in any way. This includes resizing ad frames to cut off parts of ads or hiding the Ads by Google moniker.
As stated in our program policies, publishers are not permitted to alter the behavior of ads in any way. This includes displaying more than three ad units on each page.
Please make any necessary changes to your webpages in the next 72 hours. We also suggest that you take the time to review our program policies (https://www.google.com/support/adsense/bin/answer.py?answer=48182&stc=aspe-1pp-en) to ensure that all of your other pages are in compliance.
Once you update your site, we will automatically detect the changes and ad serving will not be affected. If you choose not to make the changes to your account within the next three days, your account will remain active but you will no longer be able to display ads on the site. Please note, however, that we may disable your account if further violations are found in the future.
Thank you for your cooperation.
The Google AdSense Team
So Google basically just told me that I only had 72 hours to fix my stuff or else I would be banned. This happened just 3 days before Christmas and I totally panicked because I couldn’t for love of God figure out what I was doing wrong. The content of the above email also confused me further more.
I looked all through the site and could not find anything, this is when I basically went back to read the Google AdSense policies and to try and figure out what I was doing wrong. I eventually found out one policy which has been laid down by Google and might have been a cause for my problem;
Publishers are encouraged to experiment with a variety of placements and ad formats. However, AdSense code may not be placed in inappropriate places such as pop-ups, emails or software. Publishers must also adhere to the policies for each product used.
Google ads, search boxes or search results may not be:
Obscured by elements on a page.
The above placement policy is overlooked by webmasters as it is not really visible to the naked eye. Let me show you an example by posting a screenshot. The screenshot does not contain a real Google AdSense unit and is for illustration purposes only.
As you can see from the screenshot above a harmless share button ended by violating a Google AdSense policy by obscuring parts of the ad. This is what many webmasters do not tend to look at, and end up receiving a policy violation notice for. In my case, the policy violation was because a Google Translate dropdown box was covering part of a Google AdSense ad. I ended up removing the translate dropdown and was able to solve my problem.
Google is really smart about tracking these kind of things through an automated system. This is why the policy email violation may not contain enough information about which policy you are actually violating. It definitely required a lot of efforts on my end to find and figure this out.
I decided to write this post because I was having a conversation with Raju from TechPP.com about this issue. It looks like this is definitely something webmasters are not aware of. I was able to find and fix this problem when I received the email but several other’s aren’t so lucky.
Please run an audit of your site to see that none of the Google AdSense ads are covered by a widget, even a small part of it. If it is, remove the widget or move it to another location. Hope this will help you avoid those nasty and confusing policy violation emails from AdSense.