The Google Adsense TOS: 5 not so obvious things you should know to keep your adsense account safe

Rules, rules, rules. Love ’em or loathe ’em, they do exist and occasionally we need to know about what they are, especially in relation to the beloved Google Adsense network, and how not to step on the toes of the Google Gods, lest they eject us into the cold an unfamilar territory of an ‘alternative advertising network’.

Yes, you might think you know what Googles rules are, but have you actually read them? I mean really read them. You might be surprised if you do.

I recently decided to revise my knowledge of the Google Adsense Terms of Service and Program Policies and found a few not so obvious ways that you could potentially generate unwanted attention from the hardworking people who police such things.

So here are 5 things you should know, in no particular order, but all of vital importance to keep your account in good standing with the big G.

Drop Down Menus: Don’t Accidentally Obscure Your Ads

Many websites have drop down navigation menus, but did you know that you can inadvertantly step on Mr G’s toes by accidentally having your drop down menus fall across adsense ads?

Here’s what it says in the Program Policies…

“Google ads, search boxes or search results may not be… Obscured by elements on a page.”

The thinking is that if you place a navigation element over an ad, an accidental click could be generated.

Fortunately for HeatMap Adsense Theme Pro v4 users, you have the option to move your drop down menus high up on the page and out of the way of your ads. Just be aware with any theme that you should carefully design your menu structure to take into account where adsense ads are placed on your site, and don’t obscure them in any way with your drop downs.

Page Titles: Be Careful How You Place Them Over Ads

Googles Policy tell us:

In order to ensure a good experience for users and advertisers, publishers participating in the AdSense program may not… Format site content so that it is difficult to distinguish it from ads.

One of the most common ways I’ve seen that sites potentially contravene this policy is by placing page titles directly over adsense ads such that the title appears to be connected with the ad in some way.

HeatMap Theme though has this covered as it places a line between the page title and the content so that ads at the top of the content are not confused with the title. There is also an additional switch in the HeatMap Pro v4 options called Activate Title Safety Underlining, which underlines the first post in a category, tag, archive or search listing, so that ads placed on the first post listed always have the title underlined.

Further to this line of thinking…

Sidebar Content: Be Careful How You ‘Blend’

So you’ve decided that you want to ‘blend’ your sidebar content with your ads by styling the theme to create a seamless adsense styled user experience. It makes perfect sense, but hold your horses!

Lets see what Mr Google has to say about that…

You agree not to display on the same Web page in connection with which any Ad Unit, Ad, Link, Search Box, or Referral Button is displayed (a “Serviced Page“) any advertisement(s) or content that an end user of Your Property(ies) would reasonably confuse with a Google advertisement or otherwise associate with Google.

Hmm… so any bright ideas about making links or sidebar content look similar to adsense ads to make it blend better is probably not such a good an idea (although if you are big enough it seems this rule can be negoitiated. )

In the case of HeatMap Theme this is why I have designed the basic template with Google Ad styling in mind, but didn’t make things so similar that adsense ads could be confused with widgets.

Directing User Attention

You want visitors to see your ads right? It would seem to be common sense to think about designing visual elements to attract the visitors eye to the ad. Before you break out the Photoshop and start creating arrows, glows, or starbursts for your ads to nestle in front of, read the following…

“…publishers participating in the AdSense program may not… Direct user attention to the ads using arrows or other graphical gimmicks.”

Drat! There goes that idea for Super-Nova-Pointy-Pointy-Adsense-Arrow-Ads-Theme.

Click Thru Confidentiality

Now imagine for a moment that suddenly you are a huge adsense sucess and you’ve discovered the perfect layout for your adsense site, and now, in the spirit of sharing and cooperation with your fellow Internet adventurers (either for fun or profit) you want to publish your click thru stats as proof that your system really really works. Ack! Think again dear super site optimiser!

Read this…

“You agree not to disclose Google Confidential Information without Google’s prior written consent.”

and it goes on more specifically to prohibit disclosing of:

“click-through rates or other statistics relating to Property performance in the Program provided to You by Google”

So, it seems that loose lips sink ships in this case.

Got a fantastic click thru? Sssh… keep quiet about it. or else. 😉

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