The Most Common Ways to Break a Google AdSense Ad

Marketing Strategy

When your website marketing strategy has ad revenue as the end goal, you have to expect that the game isn’t going to be as easy as you at first think it will be. Ad revenue is a very thin margin even in the best of scenarios. It takes volume to make it grow. And countless website owners have gotten frustrated or impatient with their ad revenue and gotten themselves in trouble by trying some dumb trick or another rather than engage a professional digital marketing agency.

Here’s a list to avoid being a statistic and having Google ban you:

Excessive keyword stuffing

Number-one with a bullet, people still try this nonsense today. Google already knew it would happen when they launched way back in 1997. These sites get found and blacklisted sometimes within minutes of posting! Trust us, Google knows when a search term is repeated just to pull in a search engine and focus an ad. That is why they are Google.

Altering the results of an ad click

This is an unexpected one, but lately some site owners have attempted to monkey with the ad click results in ways like framing the ad target site or redirecting it. Huge violation of TOS, and it’s happening more as AJAX methods get more sophisticated.

Colour masking

It is true that Google allows you to customize the colours of an ad unit to your taste, either making it stand out in contrast of blend in for aesthetics. Some site owners get cocky and set things like the ad unit’s text or link colours to the webpage background colour, or set it into a CSS div with the alpha set to transparency and then using absolute positioning to have different content behind it… There’s a million ways to pull little tricks to hide an ad, and they all spell “TOS violation” and get you banned.


AdSense only allows you to label an ad unit with a truthful heading like “sponsored links.” Labelling it “please click these,” “support our site, visit our sponsors,” or any other “these are not the ads you are looking for” cute, funny ideas you have will land you in trouble. Besides, it’s really easy to spot.

Too many ad units

The Google limits for ad placement are always changing, so be sure to check the current limit. Usually it’s three or four of something, or two of one thing and two of something else. It’s easy to make a mistake here – especially when you’re generating content from server-side scripting. Be smart and avoid mixing the Google AdSense code with PHP or ASP code that generates iterative content, i.e., if you have some code showing the last ten blog posts and your AdSense code is in there, it will make ten AdSense units show up!

Changing the AdSense code

This is the most common honest mistake. And this one is actually partly Google’s fault! Google AdSense units come in a limit of shapes, sizes, and styles. Frequently if you’re trying to style a page in CSS, you’ll hit some incompatibility in div placement or font size that messes up the ad, and then without thinking you just say, “Well, I’ll add a style definition to the ad text – surely they won’t mind?” Yes, they do mind! This is because they can’t go from site to site all day checking if each page is just formatting for style and not using some fraudulent tactic, so they have to ban all code tampering. To prevent accidentally editing the AdSense code, you should place comment tags above and below it. And be sure they stand out!