To Pat, From Google Adsense: About Your Account…

Yellow CardOver the past few months, several people who own niche websites have shared that they’ve been banned from Google Adsense – some for legitimate reasons, I’m sure, but others for what seems like no reason at all, only to be on the receiving end of a generic, not-so-specific, no-reply email from Google explaining that their account has been banned because it “poses a risk of generating invalid activity”.

Probably the most noteworthy example comes from Spencer from Niche Pursuits, who was earning 5-figures a month from Adsense at the time he received this very email.

Even though I’m confident I’m not doing anything that I’m not supposed to be doing, because of the recent wave of banned accounts I was worried that my account was going to be next.

So of course, when I opened my inbox a couple of weeks ago and saw an email from the Google Adsense team, my heart skipped a beat.

Here’s the email in its entirety:


During a recent review of your account we found that you are currently displaying Google ads in a manner that is not compliant with our program policies




Please note that this URL is an example and that the same violations may exist on other pages of this website or other sites in your network.


FORMAT MIMICKING: Publishers may not implement Google ads in a manner that disguises the ads in any way. For instance, publishers may not format neighboring content to look similar to the ads, or make ads look like games or forum posts. More information about this policy can be found in our help center (

REQUESTED ACTION: Please make all necessary changes in the next 72 hours.

If the violations are corrected within the aforementioned time period, ad serving will not be affected. If changes are not made and/or other policy violations are encountered during the review process, ad serving will be disabled to your site.


Your AdSense account remains active. However, if we continue to find problems, we may disable your entire account. Therefore, we suggest that you take the time to review the rest of your network to ensure that all of your other pages are in compliance with our policies.

Thank you for your cooperation.


The Google AdSense Team

Two words: relieved…confused.

I was happy that my account is still active, of course, but the email was a bit odd to me for a couple of reasons:

  1. I hadn’t heard of anyone else getting a warning from Google before. Don’t get me wrong though, I am very appreciative of the warning, but I don’t think it’s fair that others just get banned without a chance to amend, or at least don’t get any specifics about the exact reasons why their accounts were banned.
  2. My violation: format mimicking.

Format Mimicking?

I remember reading a list of Adsense optimization tips a couple of years ago that included the following suggestions:

  1. Bigger is better for Adsense ad units.
  2. Consider wrapping the text of your articles around your ad blocks.
  3. Coordinate the color of your ads to match the colors of your site.

Google’s email tells me:

“Publishers may not implement Google ads in a manner that disguises the ads in any way. For instance, publishers may not format neighboring content to look similar to the ads…”

Then #3 must be the issue, right?

Maybe it’s because I matched the color of the links on my site with the color of the links on the ad units I placed on the site – which were blue.

But wait…

Here’s an article from Google explaining what ad styles are the most successful, which reads:

“For most color techniques, we recommend using colors for your ad text and links that already exist on your site. For example, if the links on your site are all green and your text is black, use green links and black text in your ads as well. Since most users are accustomed to seeing blue links, you might also try using blue.”

In other words: blend.

They even share an image on that page that illustrates the blend technique:

Adsense Advises on Blending

That’s exactly what I was doing!

My niche site actually looked very similar to the above-circled example – black text with blue links, and links adjacent on my sidebar of the same color too.


I only had 3 days to act before my account was going to be banned, so all I did was change the color of my ad links from Blue, to Gold.

It has been 2 weeks now, and the account is still active.


Sadly, I got this email at the exact same time that I was going to test the results of removing all non-Adsense advertisements (banner advertisements and, as explained in my post that explored my sudden drop in Adsense earnings.

So much for that experiment, because now the results are contaminated by the new gold color which I know for a fact has a lower click-through rate than the matching blue color, because I’ve already tested this color before.

Now that we’re halfway through the month, however, I am seeing a dramatically higher CPC (cost-per-click) and slightly higher RPM (revenue per thousand impressions), however the CTR (click-through-rate) is actually at an all time low.

This, I blame on the color – it should have gone up since I took out the other ads.

Again, I can’t share the exact numbers because that would be against Google’s TOS (heh…), but it might be safe to say that getting rid of the extra ads increased the CPC of the Adsense ads.

It’s hard to know for sure though – I can’t confidently rely on the data right now, so if you’re trying things on your end, it’s best to test, test, and test because each site is slightly different.

My Kids

I love Google.

I use it every single day to help me find a ton of information…

It has helped me earn tens of thousands of dollars…

But, we’ve all been seeing a lot of contradiction lately, and there’s nothing we can do about it but be smart about how we let it get to us, if at all.

All I know is, I would NOT let Google babysit my kids. <- Click to Tweet This

  • David Thomas

    Hi Pat

    I have not implemented adsense on my site yet but you article alarms me. I clearly need to think of more than one income stream for my site when the time is right. Have you any idea why Google are doing this?

    Kind regards


    • Shaun @ Without Big G

      Dave, multiple income streams from a site is definitely a smart move. Having more then one site is also a good idea, as you don’t want to put ‘all your eggs in one basket’.

      That said, you also don’t want to spread yourself too thin by distributing your time through multiple projects. So get started on establishing one or two projects at the same time, and once they’re both reasonably successful (And if you’ve got the time) start up one new one as well. This could be based in a similar niche to the one you’re already doing, or in a completely new one. Good luck. :)

  • Jiri Krewinkel

    Hmmm, this is pretty unfortunate as I don’t see anything wrong with your ads.

    Curious to see how it turns out

  • Mark Evans

    This makes me glad I chose NOT to have Google AdSense on my site. What happened to the mantra: “Don’t be evil”? Wasn’t that a rally cry for Google not so long ago.

    Many of the “monetize from Google” bloggers have tough seas ahead it appears. It is one thing to alert an account holder as they did in your case, but to shut down an account without warning (as has happened at an alarming rate) is akin to biting the hand that is feeding you. It happened to a fellow NASCAR blogger in February resulting in catastrophic effect to his income. Good luck to all, tread lightly!

  • Kris @ Detailed Success

    Close call. Google really doesn’t even know what they want or what they need.

    It is very hard for people to figure it out because they don’t have a proper customer support. I have no idea how they pull that off.

    They probably got a complaint from one of their advertisers that clicks aren’t converting or the visitors immediately hit the back button. So Google doesn’t want you to confuse the visitors in any way.

    But Google doesn’t really care as long as no one is complaining, because they are making money. If a big customer complains then you are probably gone.


    • Jorge

      Totally agree with you on this one… when money is getting tighter, specially in Europe, advertisers want the best return from their ads money… if the return is not there (bogus clicks) then they complain and Google reacts… unfortunately with the number of sites relying on adsense it is just impossible for Google to contact all of us…

      I have tried other adsense options in the past, but unfortunately google is the best one so far… maybe the best way to get more stable money is affiliate marketing rather than only ads. Good luck!

  • Andi the Minion

    Hi Pat, yes I have heard of many inconsistencies and contradictions from Google at the moment. The Evil Empire 😉 doesn’t seem to know what both its hands are doing. It was good for you that you got a warning but as you say not good for the others who were outright banned. When small time bloggers are being shown by Google how to make the ads blend and trying to earn an honest crust from AdSense it is very harsh that they go round banning them.

    Tut Tut Google,

  • Ori

    Hi Pat,

    1. You talked about the low CTR. Do you think Adsense earnings decline occurred because your site was under review and will stay in this profit level because of the low CTR?

    2. If I want to start a new niche project. Do you think that now that Google start to ban Adsense accounts, it is more recommended to find other ways to monazite my niche website and not use Adsense?

    3. You recommend to sell eBook for niche sites. I guess it is the right magnetization
    way for niche site. But how can I be sure that the niche searchers in my niche want to buy an eBook and not looking for something else (not physical products)?


    • Shaun @ Without Big G

      Hi Ori. While I can’t help out with the first question, I may be able to help with the others.

      2. With regards to number 2, it’s really your call. A lot of bloggers will probably still use Adsense because it’s quick and easy. It doesn’t take any time to set up, and it’s quick to start seeing results if you already have traffic.

      The down side of Adsense though, is that your account is always under threat. For me this isn’t a comfortable position to be in, so if you aren’t already making much money from them and haven’t got anything to lose, I’d suggest you stay away from Adsense.

      The other alternatives are promoting other people’s products as an affiliate, or creating your own product. The best option out of those is to create your own product as this will make you the most money, but it is also more work INITIALLY so a lot of people don’t go down this road. That said, once the product is set up, you can make a LOT more money from it then adsense if you have the right audience. That, and people will promote your product for you, helping you get your name out there more then you would otherwise.

      So I’d personally suggest you promote someone else’s affiliate product until you have created your own, then sell that.

      3. Most niches are suitable to create an ebook or membership site in. If it’s a niche where people have to learn how to do something, then create an ebook teaching them how to do it. If it’s a hobby niche, create a collectable item with the ‘best of’ what you do. These are just two ideas, there are a lot more you can do. You will need to research your niche (Send a questionnaire to your existing audience if you have one, read niche related forums, think about your own problems if you’re in the niche etc) and see what issues come up. Then see if you can solve those issues with your product. If you can, this is a good sign.

      The only time you may not find a product to create is if you have a site about physical goods such as a toaster or over. But if that’s the case, you may as well just promote affiliate products from Amazon / Commission Junction on your site.

      Hope that helps.


    • Ryan Gee

      I’m not Pat, but wanted give you my perspective on a couple of your questions.

      2. Short answer: yes. Long answer: I think using other ways to monetize your site will allow you to become more diverse with your earnings, which is always a good thing, especially with how volatile google is with niche sites these days. Try to select a niche where you can monetize using other methods such as amazon or promoting another vendor’s product. This will be easy for you since you are just starting your site and can determine this from the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, I think using Adsense is perfectly fine as long as you are abiding by their ToS, not trying to disguise the ads (blending – see above), and not building thin, low quality sites.

      3. Ori, this is the secret to niche selection. Researching your niche to find out buyer behavior and what monetization methods are working is part of picking a profitable niche. I would suggest researching the top sites for your keywords. Find out what they are doing and copy. I shouldn’t use the word copy because it sounds kind of naughty. Instead “be inspired” by their methods. If you see the majority offering an ebook for sell then more than likely that is what customers in that niche are looking for. As long as it’s not a new keyword or niche, then somebody else has already done all the hard research and testing for you. Use that available information to your advantage.

      “Talent borrows. Genius steals.” – Oscar Wilde

      Meaning that talent notices a good idea and copies it. Genius finds a good idea and makes it better than the original, thus eventually securing credit for the original idea.

      Emphasis on the “makes it better” part.

  • Ryan Gee

    I have to agree with what they are asking you to do..but at the same time, they need to update their advice to not contradict with their ToS.

    I have a couple Adsense sites that use “blended” ads. I guess it’s good to know I have 72 hours to change it if I get caught! lol

    • Casey Dennison

      Right? .. Google is up to a lot of fishy stuff. It’s obvious, and I just think it’s a matter of time before they get tangled up in their own trap.

      • Ryan Gee

        Possibly. Personally I think they are getting to be like walmart, in the sense that they can push people around simply because of their volume, and because there really isn’t a comparative alternative (yet). When the next big ad network comes to play, I hope google remembers how they shunned many publishers who were simply following advice given by their own account advisers.

  • Heather Brooke

    Wow, that’s lucky that you received a warning email. Thanks for sharing Pat!

  • Marketing for Small Businesses

    Great article – at least you got a warning, but it seems strange that others don’t get that warning. It’s scary that Google can put a stop to your earnings just like that. You need other ways to earning income apart from adsense.

  • Tom

    I have blended adsense ads on my sites and have not yet heard anything. Of course it isn’t really making me any money either, so, I guess i’m not all that worried about it yet.

    • Kris @ Detailed Success

      The higher profile your site or your account is the more you have to be careful.

      I think you can pretty much get away with anything when you earn only a few hundred bucks on adsense.

      That’s why people who start to succeed get banned. This is when some flag is raised and on checkup Google might find something that they don’t like.

  • Yong Custodio

    I think Google is targeting high-earning websites!

  • Brankica

    Hey Pat, I ran piles of tests on my sites and noticed that my CPC will go up every time I raise my CTR (which I usually did by removing ads form nonperforming sites and pages. Worked three times (I ran the same test 3 times).
    It is pretty annoying to get an email like that, knowing what they keep recommending for years… But I guess they are too big to be bothered with anyone else….

  • Jon Tagine

    Very worrying that Google seems to be doing this. I too read the recommendations about blending ads and have done this on a few sites. I guess it’s time to re-evaluate each of the sites to ensure I’m complying with this latest guidance.

    Regardless I’m sure Google will just ban your account if they want so i wouldn’t expect this to be the end of the matter!

    Good luck and keep up the good work.

  • Nick LeRoy

    I wonder if an Adsense user can reach a certain earnings threshold that would trigger a manual review of the site by a Google employee? Sounds like a stretch and still I don’t see anything wrong with your implementation. I was curious though when I noticed the links turning gold a while back.

  • tetsuo

    I got very similar email once – but they disabled ads on that page.. yet account remained active.

  • Ian

    Strange email. It does seem contradictory, but it might have been an overzealous team member that flagged it. I’ve certainly got plenty of sites that blend and I’ve seen examples like this which are much harder to distinguish content from ads:

    I’ve got a “man on the inside” at Google so if I have any issues I ping him an email and he always explains it in a much more human way. Worth trying to build that kind of relationship in case the brown stuff does hit the fan. 😉

  • Mike From Maine


    I’m glad to see that they at least let you make the changes. With legit guys like Spencer from Niche Pursuits getting banned it makes guys like us a little weary about putting all our eggs in the Adsense basket. The key is having multiple streams of income.


    • Ian

      I don’t think it’s legit to have hundreds of microsites that provide no real value and content which only serves as a platform to display ads.

      Spencer churned out dozens of crappy sites with the sole purpose of displaying Adsense and that is not good for advertisers or visitors. SGTHQ does offer genuine information and advice for security guards and that is the major distinction and reason Pat was not banned outright.

  • Patrick Allmond

    I hope your traffic will allow your long term plan to get away from Google Adsense. ** You have little control and no way to dispute anything they do on your account ** . They too $80 of mine once for illegal clicks. It was the most I had earned online at the time. All I did was place adsense on a site that I put up to show the progress of us building a house. I never clicked on my own ads. $80 is nothing compared to what you are pulling in. But since then I’ve advised people to avoid.

  • David Tong

    Google hypocrisy continues… when I attended an AdSense workshop held in the Google office a year ago, a guy asked why all the tips the AdSense team was sharing were exactly the stuff Matt Cutts’ team is considering as spam and points for penalizing a site… they had no reply.

    It’s becoming more and more apparent that Google is starting to view publishers as free billboards that they can ban or not pay legitimately in the long run as they ramp up paid placements even more down the road.

    Do no evil my a$$.

  • Regev

    Handing the control of your monetization to someone else seems crazy to me, business wise.

  • Bryan

    Another example of the spread of ‘GoogleMegaloIncognizantiasis’… the ever-growing BELIEF of Google that they single-handedly rule the online world, but are in fact exceedingly unaware of the complete reality of their obfuscation.

    Your experience is a great lesson of the necessity to diversify our business models – and for all that is holy, NEVER put all your eggs (or children!) in Google’s basket.

    Thanks for sharing Pat!

  • greece holidays

    What Pat should do guys ?

    We all use those “techniques”

    Right ?

  • Ian Robinson


    Your attention to detail and your mastery of digital marketing is FANTASTIC.

    I appreciate the fact that you took an emotional situation and came to such a analytical rational explanation.

    More so, In that analytical rational explanation, you found a villain. Then you exposed him. You’re a revolutionary.

    Viva La Pat.

  • Kellie

    Yeah I got banned years ago through no fault of my own. Like any massive group customer service is pretty non existent.

  • Dan

    I got a similar message to yours sometime last year for an article directory I used to run. I couldn’t work out what I was doing wrong (it may have been the same as you) so I just removed Adsense altogether for the sake of my other Adsense accounts.


  • Chris

    Once the radical trail-blazers of the bold new opportunities and freedom of the Internet, Facebook and Google are on track to becoming its tyrants.

  • Adam Struve

    I’ve received a couple warning emails over the years. The worst was one where the example url they gave me was a page on one of my sites that didn’t even have Adsense running on it.

    Another was a time someone’s gravatar image had an exposed breast in it. Yes… someone’s avatar from a 3rd party site that showed up in the comments on a page got me an adsense warning.

    Despite like 3-4 warnings since 2004 I still have an active account. I just wish there was a way you could get the adsense team to approve the way you’re doing things for the record.

  • Tony

    My thinking is that Pat is getting preferential treatment because of who he is and Google knows the clout that he carries. I think everyone should at least get the opportunity, like Pat, to know what they did wrong and fix it before just getting banned.

    I will say this – I was going to devote a lot of time creating a niche site/brand to try to earn extra income, but that isn’t going to happen because I think this is just going to get worse.

    Good luck Pat, I hope this all works itself out!

  • Justin

    When my partner (Joe) met with an AdSense Rep about a year ago he was informed and it was made quite clear to him that they almost always inform you about your site or account before a ban and offer you a chance to correct. This is clearly not the case in Spencer’s situation, but I’m wondering if it had more to do with him having multiple accounts than it did with any specifics on his sites. In any case, it’s speculation all the way around…

    To be honest, I’m not sure that it’s the color of the links that is/was the problem. In looking at the link they sent you to, the example they give lines up content above/below the ad unit in such a way to make it look extremely similar…not just in font and color but in actual formatting.

    It worries me a bit that you haven’t corrected the actual problem. I know that it’s been two weeks and everything’s been fine since then…but they may have just not gotten around to getting back to check out your site.

    • Cristina Ansbjerg

      But Justin,

      in their letter, Google say that the violation found is FORMAT MIMICKING: Publishers may not implement Google ads in a manner that disguises the ads in any way.

      If the problem is not the color, what else could it be?

    • Joe Magnotti

      Got to agree with my business partner here, seem like you haven’t corrected the real problem. Something else must be going on. Check all pages for any overlapping ad units or images.

  • Chris

    I couldn’t care less that Google wants you to rectify something, but at least have the professional courtesy to tell you what it is?

    I know Google are notorious for sending out canned default e-mails, but in this example I’m simply amazed that they do not actually tell you what the problem is. Ad mimicking? That’s pretty general, and like you said Google has always said that blending the ads is a) a great idea and b) perfectly legal.

    I’m getting more worried that these emails are sent on the basis of one person’s opinion, since the rules are so arbitrary a displeased adsense rep could definitely just chuck away a standard email where others might not have.

    And how do you know if you fixed the problem, apart from the fact that you still have your account?

  • Shaun @ Without Big G

    This post shows exactly why I choose not to rely on Google for my online income. I used to, but after having my income cut in half overnight, I decided to find another way.

    The thing with Adsense, is their departments don’t communicate th each other. One department will tell you to put more ads, they other will ban you for doing so. One will tell your to blend your ads (Which happened in your case), the other will penalize you for doing so.

    Like you I’ve made a lot of money from Google and still continue to do so. But would I rely on them for my income? HELL NO!!! I now use other sources to drive my traffic, and do what I can turn those people into repeat and loyal visitors. This is the way forward.

    Any one that gets more the 40% of their traffic from Google needs to think about diversifying their traffic sources.

  • http://[email protected] Joel

    That’s the problem when we rely our business and our lives on a company. They are so powerful that we only realize it when they start changing just they way they are now.

    And things like these will just get worse with time, until something big happens.

  • Joe Sanchez

    I had a feeling this was coming…

  • Anne

    A couple of years ago I tried using adsence just for one campaign. Eighteen months after I received an email from Google telling me not to use the ad anymore as it was non compliant – eighteen months after it was shown!!

  • Gloria

    The first thing I thought when I saw your Security Guard HQ site months ago was that the horizontal AD bar on top of the content looks like a menu, I didn’t like that because it felt like “cheating” to me.
    I’m pretty convinced that Google was referring to THAT since the rule states: “Publishers may not implement Google ads in a manner that disguises the ads in any way”. Don’t you think?

  • Brock

    Hey Pat,

    That is very interesting that you got a warning, I’ve never heard of that before either!

    I know you’ve always been quick to say never put all your eggs in one basket. So many people rely so heavily on adsense. Personally, that would make me so ridiculously nervous… I definitely wouldn’t let google babysit my kids either! haha

    I wish google would be more consistent with their enforcement, and clearer with thier policies… I’ve actually decided to not use adsense for that very reason, though I’m not completely opposed to it, I’d like to build my business up without having to rely on it!

    Interesting insights as always. Thanks Pat!

  • Tanya

    I’m not so concerned with the rules of google, because I saw a lot of actions that make no sense from google. Google is not the only one that can be used to get a passive income but it is still a lot of other programs that can provide income for me.

  • Richard Scott

    I don’t think it has anything to do with the Adsense for Content. Blue is what they recommend the most for links. The example link that they gave you doesn’t even have Adsense for Content on it. It only has an Adlink at the top inside a curved layout, that also shows up on every page. That’s what I think they’re talking about. That’s what’s different from your site versus any other site with the same color scheme. That Adlink looks more like navigation than it does an ad. That’s what I would remove.

    • Lyndsy Simon

      I agree – I’ve used this in the past and found it very effective, but I ultimately stopped because I considered it to be misleading.

  • Olivier Roland

    Thanks for sharing it Pat !

    Google is becoming more and more a burden for small businesses owners who want to use Adsense or Adwords. I guess it’s because they represent the 80% of customers who bring 20% of the revenues, so it’s costly for Google to handle them.

  • Ryan C McKay

    I love Google, but they are over reaching lately and showing the signs for it.

  • Internet Marketing With Casey Gentles

    Wow Pat, that’s really confusing.. If they encourage webmasters to blend the ads with their content then how in the world you could be violating their TOS? Seems like there are two different departments with two contradicting storied over at Google. I am only super happy they gave you the warning so that you could rectify things. Losing your account would be worse!

    Thank God you were saved. Have a blessed day Pat.

    Casey Gentles

  • Craig Lodge

    Hi Pat,

    The gold links look a little weird, my first impression was that they were “already visited” links so my brain completely ignored them. Maybe try a blue darker than your post heading text?
    Google has become that impossible to please boss that sets moving targets and gives contradictory advice…do no evil…

  • Glenn

    It doesn’t seem like the folks at Google are all on the same page, if some people are getting warnings while others are getting banned completely without warning, and if people are getting warnings for doing exactly what Google advises you to do. I don’t know if this would be an exercise in futility but have you thought about contacting Google to get this thing straightened out? If you do happen to get in contact with them I would love to know what they have to say about this!

  • James Catposts

    I was considering putting blended ads in my site alongside the affiliate channels but I will think twice now. That said I doubt I’m anywhere on Google’s radar just yet. Why make an example of an also ran when you’ve bigger fish to fry!

  • The Modest Man

    Very interesting. Never heard of that warning before, or any warning for that matter (besides the sketchy backlinks WMT message). Hope it was the color and not the formatting!

  • sanjay

    This is really weird, I was looking forward to your little experiment result. Too bad Good ruined it for me.

  • Leo Dimilo

    Hey Pat,

    I got something like this about 7 years ago. It was vague. And I was just as confused as you are. The end result was that I wasn’t able to do what they wanted me to do and as a result, they simply banned the domain from serving adsense (but not my account.). Hopefully, your experience will be different.

  • Jarod Billingslea

    Google makes everything complicated… They’re like working with a 2 year old in a 6th class.

  • Mias Muller

    Your experience just further confirms my suspicion that building your business solely around Adsense is a game of Russian Roulette, and the guy with the gun in his hands is a unpredictable company on some sort of hallucinogenic drug. Guess who is going to get hurt? But, I suppose that’s what happens when the animals are running the zoo.

  • LaTisha

    It seems like once again, Google doesn’t really know what it wants. Your site is a perfect example of a great content site that should be exactly what they are looking for. Why in earth would they send you that warning? Ridiculous.

  • John

    I recently made a website,put up great informationnand implemented adsense. I also had a adword credit that I used to generate some traffic. Three days later google sent me a warning email that my click through rate was to high!?

    I wrote back and asked for a explanation, as I was simply confused on the matter. In a nutshell ,even though most of my post had over 350 words, 3 ads was to many?

    My site is still up and they backed off, but talk about weird.

  • Glen Lowinger


    I’ve got a local electrical contracting business in an area that has less than 300 searches for the number one keyword search for our industry and area…

    Since 2010, my site has been down for review at least 10 times… for anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

    No one can tell me why it goes down (it just disappears off of Googles search index) and no one can or will tell me when it goes down, if it will come back up.

    A few months ago, Ryan Deiss put out a post about how he believes that the internet is beginning to change its model. If I understood correctly, he believes it is shifting away from the little guys being able to utilize it as we do today with our independant sites and shifting to a format where larger companies will control it and in order to be able to utilize it, you will have to go through them.

    As I see it, the larger companies would definitely include the likes of Google and probably Yahoo and the likes of companies like Amazon…

    I am just wondering if Google is just trying to shake the easy stuff out of the tree in an effort to start promoting business into that direction. They are starting new programs all the time and Engage looks like a sales rep program to help small business buy marketing services from Google.

    Who knows for sure… but, when they start turning sites on and off for no reason that anyone can tell you and they won’t answer any questions, it does make one wonder.

    • Rick

      Exactly, that is the future. Google wants the online world to mirror the offline world. By raising the barriers to entry, they hope that this will increase the quality of stuff found on the internet. And that’s OK – I agree with what they are trying to do, but Google needs to raise its own game as well.

  • Henry Gaines

    I am having another kind of problem. Although I have published articles on Infobarrel, I have been unable to obtain a full Adsense account because I am not internet savy and not understand how to paste the ad code into my article site. I would like to go on producing material for Infobarrel, but I definitely want to make money from my efforts. If anybody out there can help me to overcome this problem, please email me at [email protected]. Thank you, your newsletter is going to help me a lot to find my way in this venture.

  • Glen Craig

    It’s just like how they tell you the best performing ad is right under your title and then the other hand tells you to limit ads above the fold.

    Look, the rules are theirs. But they at least need to be consistent if they are going to change things.

  • Dan Sumner

    Hey Pat, Nice post I have been there a long time ago and decided not to hold all my eggs in one basket with Google, for the simple reason they hold all the cards. This is what scares me. If they want to ban you they will no questions asked and no reinstating of account.

    I’m not banned and still earn a little from Adsense, but I would rather try other SPI avenues.

    Thanks Pat.

    Dan Sumner

  • Thomas @ Mobile App Tycoon

    Sounds like it’s time to experiment with eBooks and other products on SGTHQ :) At least Google gave you a warning AND told you what to fix – would have loved that lol. But I guess they respected that you were getting others involved in the AdSense program. It’s great to hear that there is a little human touch over there :)


  • Greg

    Hello Pat,

    Sorry to hear about the CTR going down after changing the color.

    If I remember correctly, in the past when the ad text was blue wasn’t the “ads by Google” section absent? I remember looking at the security training site and wondering if the links I was clicking on were the ads you mentioned during all of your posts here on SPI or links to other places on the site. Perhaps this could be what Google was talking about? Also, when I loaded the website this time around my “do not track” plugin on my browser disabled the ads (I think they appeared before). Perhaps this might be another reason the CTR went down?

    I wish you all the best. I’m sure you’ll be able to get things back up and running!


  • Tony Frezza

    Speaking of Evil Empires Pat…I think a Facebook post is due on EdgeRank. Ever since they went public, there seems to be a whole lot more “sponsored stories” and a whole lot less of the stuff I actually want to see (like SPI updates) showing up on news feed. It’s like I have to seek out updates from my favorite sites now. Even though my fan base has grown at my site, the “reach” is definitely no where close to what it was before

  • Austin


    If only Google would speak with a unified voice. I’m sure you’re as frustrated as many of the adsense publishers who have been optimizing theirs sites based on the recommendations of Google only to get slapped later on for violating some TOS. Why do they recommend one thing and then punish you for implementing their suggestions. Just like the “above the fold” punishment a little while back.

    We’ve almost entirely moved away from Adsense for these reasons and are focusing solely on Amazon sites. Too hard to keep up with the many changes and slaps. It was nice of them, for a change, to give you a warning!

    I would suspect that the warning was auto-generated making me wonder… would it generate the same warning if your colors were off one or two characters? For example your site links being #1088CC and your adsense links being #1088CD. The difference is invisible to the naked eye but not an exact match for bots crawling your site.

    I’m not saying risk your account over running this test… just a thought.

    Take care,


  • Abdul Rehman

    Wow, Pat. That seems to be a close call, I remember how I lost my first adsense account almost five years ago for no reason and was never re-accepted until 2 years ago. Adsense can be a major pain at times. So, what exactly are you going to do to get your CTR up now? :O

  • Swayam

    Lol your one Lucky person :) Most of us usually get slapped directly 😀 I think they are not liking your theme! Its sort of like a Made-For-Adsense theme 😉

  • Julie

    See this is exactly what they should be doing for people…letting them know what they have done wrong and giving them a chance to fix it. I am just about to get my first Google Adsense check…YAY! I was so nervous because of the stories I have heard about people getting banned. It seems different people get banned and it is hard to figure out why. It is nice to hear they do send out warnings.

    I just wish they would make a little more sense when it comes to following their rules. It would make things easier on all of us.

  • Marvin Fontanilla

    Wow, this is really crazy. They make their own rules and contradict them in every possible way to benefit their clients, the advertisers. I wonder if it was the (728×15) link units or the Text Ads that flagged Google. I see that you changed both, as I would just to be on the safe side.


    Google Adsense is famous for doing this to their faithful partners! Shame on Google!

  • Barbara

    Every few months there is an ad on Craigslist for a “search engine evaluator” from Leapforce (Ibelieve that is the term and the name of the company). These are usually temporary positions and it looks to me like Google is outsourcing this evaluation work. I wonder if part of the problem is simply the inexperience of the evaluators.

  • Jaime @ AlittleSaverinthe253

    Hey, in my little niche, frugal and deal blogging- I hear everyday of people getting these lovely letters. I have not, but I rarely use adsense on anything I cant add an ad myself easily- so pretty much feeds and newsletters and such. I have been told all my life to diversify and I just started that way in the beginning. I always did find it a bit ‘monopoly-like’ to have google paying for advertising. I will always support smaller businesses, meaning smaller affiliate companies vs. the search engine, My $0.02.

  • Paul Sanderson

    I have been using Adsense since 2006 to monetize websites. In the beginning it was a gold rush as Google wanted to build a larger user base. Since then it has constantly squeezed revenues to the point where it is, in my opinion, no longer worth the effort.

  • Dave

    These kind of notices have been going out for at least 5 years and they are pretty common for folks with a larger portfolio. They are a royal pain in the ass and reflect a reviewer’s interpretation of the guidelines.

    Plus, in general Google is not liking the state/city parsed adsense sites like they once did.

    Looking at the page layout my guess is that with the previous style the adlink menu was the main culprit. The font and color matching coupled with the blog layout make the above the fold view almost entirely ad driven. Adlinks positioned this way against a theme where the main navigation is not obvious have traditionally gotten a warning.

    You might try pushing down the rectangle into the second paragraph on the layout. You can also consider flipping the fix and going back to blue on adsense and use gold on your main theme.

    • Pat

      The ad links are still there! If that was the issue then I should have been banned by now.

      • Greg

        Didn’t the original design omit the “Ads by Google” text, leaving only the links? I was thinking this could be the reason Google sent the letter. Without the “Ads by Google” text, the ads looked just like site navigation.

        • Marvin Fontanilla

          You can’t omit the “Ads by Google” portion since it’s a script provided by google itself

      • Jeff Meland

        Maybe they are slow at implementing the ban. ?

  • Leah

    Thanks for sharing! I think the decrease may happen because of those colours, what if there is no need to cancel all other ad networks?

  • Will

    Pat –

    Thank you for being so open about your process. It definitely helps us newbies to the online smart passive income world to think about diversifying right from the very beginning.

  • Karon Thackston

    Sorry to hear about your PPC troubles. Someone might have already asked this, but have you tried Bing PPC? I read an article lately that Bing users are a bit less tech savvy, but tend to click on ads at higher rates and Google users.

  • Dave Smith

    Google have certainly come a long way since their three servers in a garage days! I wonder if there’s anyone left in the company who actually remembers the initial reasons for why they started in the first place. Power currupts I suppose.

    I know nothing about adsense, cpc, cpm, cpr or whatever. But what I do know is, if google were creating a negative element within my business, I would be looking at other options pretty damned quick.

    If the income you make from your adsense account is so significant that you have to keep bending to googles whim, and worrying about an email dropping into your inbox, then so-be-it. But if it’s something you could make up for with other options, then I would be telling them to go to hell and use that freed up capacity to concentrate on those other options, or your family, or your dog, or whatever really matters in life.

    Ironically, if you want to find other options I suppose you would have to google it!!

  • jennifer

    Could you and a million people sue? Class action style???

  • jennifer

    Class action law suit? It would give you a lot to blog about.

  • kevin

    google policies seem quite contradictory, I guess the lesson is to continue to diversify

    That’s what impresses me so much about Pat, real content, practical & insightful

    much success, you’re the best man…

  • Chuck Brown

    I seriously doubt that Pat is getting any kind of preferential treament (as was suggested earlier). I don’t think for a minute that Google doesn’t show preference to certain brands/sites…it’s quite obvious that very large sites and big brands are getting preferential treatment in rankings…but I’d be quite surprised if that were the case with Pat.

    I don’t think Google is necessarily evil, nor intentionally mystical in their communications. But the fact that they are not more specific…that they don’t offer any kind of serious/consistent options for one-to-one personal communication…added to the fact that they must (of necessity) be secretive about the “secret sauce” of their algorithm…ALL these things add up to the air of suspicion we all have about them. These things simply can’t be accomplished by limited, semi-cryptic blog posts…or brief, non-specific warnings from “The Google AdSense Team”.

    Wouldn’t it be great if we could all have a “man on the inside” at Google, as Ian suggests? I think most of us would PAY for that kind of access…at least on a situational basis. I know *I* would.

    So many of the things they do seem to make so little sense. For example, creating Google Apps, encouraging people to sign up free and run their domain-based email through their servers…but then (without explanation) to forbid those email addresses to be used for Google Accounts (AdSense, YouTube, etc). The logic just totally escapes me!

    Matt Cutts seems like a good guy, and he does put a human face on Google in some of these matters. But the company needs another DOZEN people like him…not only for search quality issues, but all these other confounding questions. Apparently the “engineer minds” behind the company just can’t see the value here. But I hope someone there wakes up someday. Failing that, I hope some serious competition arises. Google has had my total allegiance for 10 years now, but as insensitive as they are to these issues, I would seriously considering embracing a competitor who did a better job in these matters.

  • Sher

    I am completely confused and terrified if someone with your level of integrity and knowledge in this field can receive an email like this, the rest of us are…well… screwed.

  • Takeshi

    I personally got banned from Google a few years ago… we were doing nothing shady on our site, and of course they didn’t provide any explanation beyond the vague “invalid click activity” and our reconsideration request was ignored. So basically, I am banned from Adsense for LIFE for some infraction they didn’t even bother to explain.

    Honestly, I think that was one of the best things that happened to our business, because we learned not to depend on some outside company for our income. And if you think about, Google is just the middleman. For every ad they have on their site, someone out there is making MORE by advertising with them. So figure out who is advertising with Google, figure out what their revenue model is, and cut out the middleman. You’ll make more money in the long run.

  • Ric

    Here’s an interview that James Hussey did with Tim from askthebuilder. com

    Tim’s site was Google’s poster boy site for adsense, I think Tim was invited to their headquarters several times and then it happened. If you listen to the interview you will hear what happened, and you will hear Tim’s opinion on what Google is up to. Really Interesting—–


  • James

    Wow! That is very interesting. I wonder how many others receive emails like that.

  • Johnny Bravo

    Wow Pat, my heart skipped a beat when I started reading this post. So thankful for you that the account wasn’t outright banned.

    And I have never heard of anyone else getting a notice like that. The Google Gods must like you.

    You hit it right on the nose that Google seems to be contradicting themselves in regards to the notice they sent you and their recommended AdSense “types”.

    Thanks for the post letting us know whats up.

  • Karon Thackston

    Takeshi, I agree. There are too many other fish in the sea and, IMO, Google has it’s hands in too many pots. We often give them to much control. Optimizing your sites for the search engines and making money with AdSense, etc. is one thing, but it makes me nervous when Google does this corporate speak mumbo jumbo.

  • Rory Mullen

    How about a Class Action Lawsuit against Google for not being open with there Term Of Service.

  • Juan

    They have done it in the past and they probably do it in the future,so Adsense has become a temporary way of making money,they could change the rules at any time they want.I am surprised they haven’t taken the whole first and second pages of google search for paid ads,they will probably do that in the future also.
    I believe that Pats site is one of the best and if he get’s punished by google then google just made a big mistake.

  • kevin redman

    This is a intresting email as now I do not know what google wants I am doing the same as pat wonder If i will be getting a friendly email!!!!

  • Monty Campbell

    It is sad that good does this and there is no recourse. Its great for them because they operate in a vacuum and don’t consider the fact that people are behind these sites. They rarely consider that if you simply tell someone what to do to make things right, 9 times out of 10 they will do just that.

    That said it is inspiring to see that google at least communicated with you first before disabling the account. Perhaps there is hope for the monster that is google after all.

    That said, Pat you continue to inspire with the authenticity and clarity of the message. I look forward to seeing the updates and lessons learned as I grow in business and seek to help others. You Mr. Flynn are an inspiration even in this challenge.

  • Dale Barchasch

    Hi Pat, thanks for the update. I have been wondering how your sites were faring in the wake of so many problems for others. I am early in my online marketing career. I am an under funded baby boomer nearing retirement. I have been alarmed and concerned about Google. In response to how Google has been handling their Adsense business and their search results, I am concentrating on web businesses that do not rely on Adsense or Google search results. I feel it would be foolish to build a business that could be ruined at any time by accidentally violating vague rules. I am going to be concentrating on business models that have very limited use of Adsense and attract traffic by means other than Google searches alone. I am not going to avoid Google, but I am not going to count on them either. Thanks again Pat.

  • Thelma Harcum

    Hi Pat,
    Hang in there. Maybe this is a wake-up call from what many have seen and experienced before.
    It is ashame that one company can be so powerful and threaten others livelihood.
    This is a form of harrassment without you even realizing it.
    Stay positive and make adjustments as soon as possible.
    You are a great writer and have the best talent in this internet business, ever.
    Keep making products and turn them into your own money making ads on your own site.
    Google have no public relations department, and so they are just flowing in cyberspace and do not need to have a relationship with nobody. I would call them the INVISIBLES. It is ashame that they are that way, as many people have this sadistic “hate and love” relationship with them, including myself.
    I’m putting my faith into God; if he/she is still alive.
    Most of all, put your faith in yourself and that no one can take away from you.

    Love, Peace, and Success!
    Thelma Harcum

  • Tim

    I feel your pain. Fortunately I have not (yet) been banned from showing ads on my site, but I have been banned (for life) from creating ads. Again, it was a very non-descript, no-reply email that didn’t say much. I can only guess that maybe I tried to use one too many exclamation points or capital letters…

    Google is very powerful and generally very wise… but with great power comes great responsibility, they make a lot of new friends everyday but are just as capable of making the same amount of enemies.

    • Anthony

      Hey Tim,
      Looks like you have answered a question I have been running in my head which is: if your adwords account has been suspended (for making an ad for an e- book that has 700 000 happy customers that never went live, yeah the ad was sitting in my account 😉 you can still be accepted as a adsense publisher?

  • James

    Google Adsense banned my account earlier this year. I didn’t do anything that could infringe the TOS.

    Be careful ladies and gentlemen, Google is not to be messed with. Google is king and can pull the plug on your nice little world for good.

    • Anthony

      “Google is King”, no no, google is Dictator!

  • Gay Aida | Bloggers Tech

    When I read your email. I almost got a heart attack. LOL. I checked my account immediately and I’m happy to say there’s no such words from Google so far. Whew!

    That’s really sad Pat. Ever since Google changes their adsense implementation or rule, or whatever you call it. I played safe. I know a lot of bloggers who placed their ads everywhere. It’s everywhere that it’s not content rich anymore and it looks more like a spam website than a blog. I’d rather earn less than earn big time and I’ll be removed later on.

    But as I can see there’s nothing really wrong with your website. It’s actually similar to my blog, and just like you I follow their “SUGGESTION” to the placement of the ads.

    Also, I just did made some few bucks on the GAN (Google Affiliate network). It just appeared on my email the amount “$1,197.99” and when I read it carefully it was the amount I get to sell and my actual earning is actually “$35.94” .. haha.. But then I’m still amazed.

    Anyway, that’s sad about your account being inactive now. One question though, what will happen to your funds? Did they send it or it’s goodbye?

  • Reg

    I think it’s hilarious when people actually try to make logical sense of Google and Adsense. You will get banned for no reason at all, it’s just a matter of time and nobody will know why you got banned and you’ll have 150 comments with people telling you their opinion which is just an opinion because nobody knows.

  • Catherine Graham

    Pat, Thank you for sharing this information so freely as it has helped me make a decision about some projects I have been working on. I have used Adwords to drive traffic to my eCommerce site in the past and found the cost and the work involved not worth the bother. I have also seen my rankings drop despite not (knowingly) doing anything untoward in my link building efforts. I had planned to trial Adsense on some new sites, but realise now that this would yet again be playing into Google’s hands and taking my time away from growing my business organically. I will concentrate on my customers first and foremost, continue to write worthy content and offer good old fashioned value for money. Google will be sorry one of these days and we’ll all come out on top! Hang on in there Pat and keep up the good work, Catherine Graham :-)

  • Cliff Ford

    Pat, thanks for the heads up. I got slammed on one of my sites by the Penguin update. I revised a bunch of stuff and things seem to be headed in the right direction again, but this thing really messed me up. I haven’t done much with adsense yet, but am more wary than ever right now with google.
    The CRM Comparison Guy

  • Cliff Ravenscraft

    Unbelievable. I love Google as well. However, this is one of the many reasons I’ve decided not to pursue much generated revenue through SEO and other Google related streams of income.

    They change their minds too much. Though, at the same time, you’ve certainly generated tens of thousands of more dollars that I have buy making use of what Google has made available to you.

    Hope that it all works out in the end!!!

  • Tany @ My Money Mission

    I blame some of the publishers. It’s because they’ve done the wrong way to earn adsense income, like clickjacking for example that makes Google paranoid. So anyone with high income with adsense will be Google’s target. It’s not fair that people who use adsense according to the rules gets punished as well… especially those who has started to earn 5 figures with it..

    I have my adsense in a few of my sites, barely earning anything but I still fear that one day I’d get an email from google saying my account is banned for no reason. It’s not something that you can just ignore and then register a new account, especially if your source of income solely comes from adsense.

  • Sergio Felix

    Hey Pat,

    Well I have never used my Adsense account first of all, because of all the horror stories but seriously, what the heck is Google trying to do?

    After all the Pandas and Penguins they STILL are looking out for those people that actually bring business back to them?

    At least they warned you but in all honestly, each day I’m seriously thinking I’m NEVER going to use my Adsense account.

    Take care and watch out for those people man.


    PS. I’m actually GLAD that the TV program with Rob Dyrdek (pro skateboarder) called “Ridiculousness” focuses everything on BING.

  • Eric

    Hi Pat,

    Your story, once again, makes me wonder about alternatves. Do you know of any good ones for the European markets?

  • CCOkoji

    Well @ this point my advice is for you to make this changes as they requires. If not, they will hit your account.

    Good luck my boss!

  • Karen

    I think people will really have to make sure more than ever that they diversify their income streams. Sorry to hear that Pat, you do such a great job.

  • Lani – Aloha

    Aloha Pat, we all can appreciate your candor in your business and most of all, sharing what is happening, as well. I suppose this expressions hits it on the nose, “Damn if you do and damn if you don’t.” Google runs the show and they are allowed to break there own rules or overlook what they recommend.

    Crazy stuff! I enjoy all your information that you share and tell your fans what is out there. Mahalo, Lani :)


    Hi Pat, i am glad your account was not banned. I received exactly the same email from adsense 3 weeks ago, about missleading ads. They give me 72 hours to make the change. My web is about Architecture and Construction and after changing colors and position of ads my earning were reduce almost 40 %.
    My web is , is an spanish blog.

    Previously I used a wordpress plugin called Nrelated which place several posts summaries blocks next to the ad under the title of my posts. I use it in order to dont have much empty space beside the adsense block. While above-the fold It provided text for the search engine.
    I remove it for fear that this is not going with adsense rules about images next to ads. Although I think the way I had the post summaries before pictures of the posts dont ocacionate misleading.
    I would like the opinion of someone here to see if I can re-integrate the plugin as it had before. Here are 2 examples of how look a post with the plugin activated:

    Also Pat i see you let the 728×15 ads bellow your header in I had it so, but i took it off for fear that it looks likea menu bar from my blog, now i put it bellow a search adsense box.

  • Annie Andre

    This show a definite disconnect within Google. Their directions are so varied and so cumbersome that even the employees are confused about what they mean. One said blend but another set of directions says don’t blend. LOL..

    Too bad..

  • Brent

    Wow, and I thought I was the only having problems with Adsense.
    I’ve only got a partial approval so far but I guess that’s understandable since it’s only been 4 days since I setup my first account with Adsense.
    I have blank adds showing :-}

  • Kyle McGuigan

    Hey Pat, a few years ago, you may have had a couple people here and there feel your pain. In today’s world, there are hundreds of thousands of people that are feeling your pain. It’s hard to deal with a program (adsense) that basically can do whatever they want with your account, at any time, for any reason. I was big with blogging, also websites, and then I had 4 YouTube accounts PARTNERED (when “partnered” actually MEANT something on youtube) – and then google BANNED me with NO reason why. At least they seem like they are TRYING to work with you. I would say “screw adsense, not worth it at ALL” – but of course you still have those people making good money with it. All I’m saying, is that I put the same effort into other companies, and made 10X as much revenue (affiliate marketing, list-building, JV opportunities) – Let’s just say after all I’ve been through with google these passed 6 or so years, I’ve learned that they aren’t really the most “solid” foundation for a business – in fact it’s one of the most shaky nowadays. Bloggers, Site-Creators, YouTube video makers – it doesn’t matter who we are, there are hundreds of thousands of us getting banned left and right – we all just have to learn to move on and make money somewhere else (of course some people never get the clue, and struggle and complain with adsense until their own account is disabled). DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN ONE BASKET is the bottom line. Google “does care” about content creators, but they care more about their advertisers – so they’d rather kick us to the curb, making us go from $1,000s to virtually $0 overnight, and allowing advertisers to continue to make google money every second of the day.

    Well, that’s my rant on google adsense, haven’t really talked to many people about this in over a year. Sorry to hear about the email, Pat.

  • edna smith

    I don’t like many of the things Google does when it comes to rankings, banning, algorithms changes etc.. However, many sites use those blended ads where is difficult for readers to see the difference between text and ads (same colors, same fonts, ads between text with same colors etc.), that should not be allowed and a warning is fair game in my opinion.

    I see that Pat changed the colors to differentiate the ads from the text now. Thank you Pat for sharing, this way we all can learn a bit more.

    • James Hussey

      Except of course when Google does that very same thing, right?

      i.e. AdSense in their search results aren’t really contrasting very well against the “organic” results…on top of that, they insert their OWN properties (i.e. product search – paid placements now!) into the “organic” listings…which is one big reason why they’re being investigated (or were) on both sides of the Atlantic for Anti-Trust allegations.

      I don’t buy their nonsense – they’re hypocritical with their own advice. It’s BAD business to punish your own affiliates/publishers when they’re making YOU money – and to punish them for taking YOUR advice. It’s stupid.

      • edna smith

        Yes, Google has a huge unfair advantage and it sucks. However, when you visit a site (even one with quality content, like Pat’s site) and its ads look and feel like booby traps because they are in the same format and undistinguishable from the content it’s not a good experience. Readers end up clicking on ads unintentionally not because they’re interested.

        • James Hussey

          Actually readers click on the ads because they ARE interested in the link itself – and here’s the thing: Google does what they tell us webmasters NOT to do:

          They violate their own page layout algo in their own SERPs (all above the fold belongs to Google in most verticals with profit).

          They violate their own “do not blend ads” format with AdWords.

          They violate anti-trust laws by inserting their own results in the organic listings, disguising their own ads (via universal search results) as a way to insert themselves into the sales funnel at every turn possible: i.e. they take you to another SERP listing with their own blended-in ads…

          Yet it’s not OK for us to take THEIR advice. Fancy that. Their hypocrisy is only allowed because they happen to buy off any official legal ramifications (like how they recently did in the UK after anti-trust investigation lead up to a settlement).

          Call it what you will: but Google themselves break their own “rules.”

          Their message is totally mixed.

  • James Hussey

    It’s sort of like what they did with Penguin – punished webmasters for doing what Google themselves told us to do: use optimal anchor text.

    Like getting a speed limit for how fast you drove yesterday, when they change the speed limit today. They don’t make much sense…

    The other stupid thing about Google is how they make moves to “clean up the SERPs” by making it harder for us to get a good CTR (i.e. page layout algorithm earlier this year)…it sounds good on paper and in the media because they can simply say, “We want to return the best quality sites in our results…” but I haven’t found many queries where I could say they’ve achieved that goal very well.

    In any event, I would’ve sent them a screen shot / link to what you showed us, because I remember the very same article when I started online. They say either to “blend” or “compliment” your ads > content – so now they want to punish their own advice?


  • Btbuzz

    Great ive been blowing my mouth off on blending
    In adsense with text color, I”ll have to study this more
    tonight, sounds confusing, but at least they warned you.

  • Haroun Kola

    Google is becoming a law unto itself, I think they’re becoming a bit arrogant as they seem to have the whole internet beholden to them. But I also think they’ll quickly feel the effects of something better coming along, and the masses of people online will move towards and leave them a shell of a company once so admired

  • Dr Kavita Shaikh

    Well Pat, you sure are lucky to have your adsense account still going strong. This is just another reconfirmation of the fact that relying on Adsense for income, no more makes business sense

  • Zaeem

    Hi Pat,
    I should say your lucky that google sent you a mail before deactivating your account. That’s one reason and the other reason is I am sure they know that you have influence on the net.
    After the google panda and after google have deactivated so many adsense accounts including mine, I was of the opinion that they are trying to monopolize the net. However now I am sure of it.
    I am looking forward to see an internet where google has less power over.

  • Aknenarben entfernen

    I recently started my first site and I’m really afraid that the wole work was for nothing.

  • jared

    I agree with many sentiments here. We get Adsense TOS warning and even Algo changes targeting “aggressive” ad placement and then emails all the time suggesting we’re not being aggressive enough. WTF?

  • rakesh

    Goolge is refining himself every day as he want to maintian himself at the top level all the time .

  • Kat Helms

    Google is truly aggravating. When they cam on the scene, they were well liked – heck loved – by almost everyone.

    I used to pick though the Google labs all the time, eagerly waiting for the next cool thing.

    Then I noticed that they never finished anything, not really. Products would stifle or stagnate, or UIs would just seem unwieldy.

    And then the reports of no customer service started coming out. Not poor service. NO live service. At least, not for most people. And that’s when I stopped giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    Google has been internet-changing, no doubt about it. But they are huge and don’t care about any of their end users. Not really. Only the advertisers, because of course that’s where the money is from. I guess I can understand that.

    But at some point, this Goliath will fall. Too bad, I really did like them as recently as just a few years ago.

  • Nathalie Thompson

    Wow. Makes me think I shouldn’t even bother. I’ve tried Adwords a few times and I do have and Adsense account, but I’ve never been able to make heads or tails out of either of them. Been meaning to get around to figuring them both out one of these days, but I keep hearing more and more stories like this and I’m thinking I’m going to just avoid them. I think I’ll just stay on the same page as one of the PPs and concentrate on growing my business organically… looks like it might be a much better way to spend my time.

    Hope it works out OK for you, Pat!

  • Joseph Lalonde

    That must be tough Pat! While I haven’t felt the sting of the Google AdSense ban or change, I can imagine the stress and frustration the notice would cause. Could you email them back and ask for a clarification?

  • Howie Nguyen

    It would be interesting to know if Spencer from Niche Pursuits did anything similar.

  • Kimanzi Constable

    You’re a genius online Pat so I’m sure you’ll figure it out and continue to kill it! This makes me shy away from using adsense for sure!

  • Chetz Togom

    Thanks for sharing this Pat.

    I deleted my Adsense account a few months ago since I decided to focus on other business model. I’m glad I did!

    I’m not sure why Google is doing this. I know they want to give a better experience for people who are using Google search and looking at websites, but are they also doing the same thing with those who advertise with them (Adwords), do they also make sure that the Ads shown are quality ads/products/services?

    It seems like Google punish the publishers, but anyone know whether they’re also doing the same to advertisers?

    One of the reasons I don’t use Adsense is my readers might click an ad that goes to unprofessional website that don’t sell quality products or services.


  • Don Miguel

    Hey Pat,
    Thank you for the heads up. I’ve been working recently on building multiply income streams and this just underscores the importance of not relying entirely on google.
    I appreciate your research and your attempts to understand the thinking of google and I’ll be reviewing my adsense installs as a result of this post.

  • Derrick

    While the Google adsense optimization team will tell you exactly where to optimize your site,the Quality department will send you an automated response for unclear violations.Google is certainly confused.Pat you are lucky because most people dont get the 72 hr chance to rectify their problems.This is being said,Google will certainly ban your account in future for repeat violations.Google is a short-term method to make as much money as you can before you get banned.

  • Sune @ ExtraIncomeBlogger

    Since starting my own website, I haven’t really focused on Google Adsense at all – for this exact reason. They change their minds so many times, that nobody can really keep up with their “rules” and “guidelines”.

    I feel it’s better to stick to the “little guys” as they tend to be more dependable.

  • Eric J. Nisall – DollarVersity

    I got fed up with Google being this all-encompassing internet-God after I started seeing all of these changes taking place at the expense of the little guys (and gals) that weren’t really doing anything terribly wrong.

    Then, I started thinking about from a business vantage point, and that’s when I really started to notice a bunch of deficiencies and hypocrisy in their practices. So much so in fact, that I set out to write a small rant. Well, after almost no time at all, I ended up with a huge post just dissecting their lousy practices of late. (Not trying to be spammy, but I thought it would be a relevant tie-in to your post, Pat) It’s here for all to see and chime in on if the feeling comes along. It’s only a matter of time until the “next Google” comes along and threatens it’s dominance.

  • Kent F

    As I heard Frank Kern say on a webinar last week – building a business on G is like building a foundation on sand. The bottom line is very clear – consider any income you receive form them as gravy, and begin make steps to make your primary income from another source immediately.

    Anybody have success with Chitika?

  • Chris from OutsourceFactor

    Hey Pat – really cool of you to share the email and explain how Google is contradicting themselves. I’d be curious if any of the bigger adsense earners (people with reps) have seen anything more concrete. In fact didn’t you just have an interview with a guy from a pure-Adsense space news site on your podcast?

    That was a great interview, BTW.

  • Markus Allen

    I wrote a 4,000+ word guest post on Gauher Chaudhry’s blogsite on why Google is stealing from us with AdSense:

    I show a link to Google’s virtually-secret blog on the real reason our earnings are dropping like a rock. It’s really unbelievable.

  • Mike Miller

    It upsets me to know the big “G” has been doing this lately. Doesn’t seem fair practices on their behalf, especially when someone creates site actually adding content and value as Pat’s niche site has. Perhaps the big “G” should back away from some of their algorithms, stimulate the economy by hiring real individuals to inspect sites. After all, it is the parked “adsense” domains with no content that has cluttered up their search engine, and they are to blame for this. They encourage these practices, change on a dime, then bite the hand that feeds their billion dollar company. I have a suggestion, why not promote affiliate offers on your site, make them look like your own ads. The commissions are much better…just a thought. I have been testing on my own site ( and the results were amazing. Moved adsense below the fold!!

  • Warren T

    To be honest. I’ve a guts full of Google and their never ending changes.
    I’ve even found that when I search for things personally, their results suck after all these animalistic changes they keep implementing.
    I, for one, am migrating to a different search engine, and I think Google deserves what it gets. I think in 10 years time we’ll be saying “Hey, Remember Google, and how big they got so quick. Where are they now?”

  • Felix Albutra

    Hi Pat,

    What I can see is that Google is looking in the Ads that looks like a “Navigation Link” and not in the color blending. For short, they are looking in the positioning of the ads.

    Yes, Google deactivation of other publisher’s account is really unfair. My account was also banned since 2009 without warning. But I recently saw/read a quote from a famous person saying, “Life is Unfair”.

    I think what makes me think why Google send you a warning is that, they trusted your site as an authority that you are giving high quality content for your readers and not just for making money with adsense purposely.

    Anyway, thank you very much for your post. And good luck to other publishers. God Bless.

    – Felix Albutra

  • Bob R

    I got some sort of email on my other site for…sexual content! Checking the page I’ve noticed a naughty comment I’ve missed. Google becomes smarter and smarter and you cannot complain because they brings in the revenue.

  • Eugene

    I think it’s unfair that Google can simply ban accounts without notifying publishers about the reason of why they did so. I think there must be some law, like a fair customer treatment law or something that shouldn’t allow them to do that. If I go to McDonalds tomorrow and they refuse to sell me a burger, it is customer discrimination. Why isn’t it the same with Google? On top of that, banning some publishers while openly allowing the “big boys” (not you, Pat:)) violating any rules they want and still keep their accounts promotes nothing but monopolies on the Internet. So here we have a violation of fair competition law as well. My intuition tells me that some day Google my get sued.

  • Richard Sayer

    Hi Pat,

    Thanks for the post, very interesting. This seems to be a problem with a lot of people. Does anyone in the IM community have access to Google to provide some feedback or get clairification? Or is there a “Union” or “Association” of webmasters that can speak with one voice? Maybe this would be a time to create an Association to represent the small web owners. I know it would be like herding cats, but self preservation may create a unified vision.

  • James Hussey

    Pat I was just thinking (and didn’t read the comments, tl;dr) that since the site in question is so famous from all your posts about it, don’t you think it was a competitor who happens to read your blog that outed you?

    I know that Matt Cutts at SMX recently said if you get a manual review, then they give you an email/warning etc. but that’s with GWMT, not sure if it’s the same rule for AdSense, but I’m presuming it’s the same.

    Which is another reason I don’t have the stones to do what you did with the Niche Site Duel – inviting a lot of scrutiny from various types of people, it could sabotage your business.

  • Jesper Krogfelt

    Please let us get a warning allso, i have many friends who just got there account banned without any reason they know of.

    Thanks again Pat for the heads up.

    Looking forward to reading your free ebook in the weekend, in a couple of weeks im going to start writing my own :)

  • Donnel

    This is a classic case of the break down of the machine. You should see if you could contact the head honcho of the Google Adsense department and notify him of this backwards loop hole that could creat a backlash and ultimately hurt everyone. You do a great job teaching and this might create another opportunity for you. ( you never know). Keep up the great work you do.

  • John J

    Hey everyone don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t make Google Ad-sense your only source of income. Do a little bit of everything, E books, affiliates, Amazon and more. This way if something, gets suspended you have something else to fall back on. Google can do anything it wants whether we like it or not!!

  • Jeff Bullins

    That’s why I am not building sites to put adsense on any longer. I can’t build my business on shifting ground. I will keep what I have, but I won’t focus on any new endeavors with them. I don’t really understand their thinking.

  • Lydia

    This is very concerning, as when we build informational sites our first choice for monetization is Adsense, since they are (usually) well-tailored to the content and have the most advertisers by far. Naturally, the first thing we do is blend the ads to match the site! Yes, I remember Google recommending this as well. So, Google, again, changing the rules as they go along and then slapping webmasters for things they didn’t know they were doing wrong.

  • Donatus

    After reading this, i think i will start expanding my internet activities online and start entering other great online business like affiliate marketing.

    Thanks Pat

  • Gabriel

    Hi Pat, I think that’s the issue with Adsense and making money in a “passive way”… It’s never really passive when you deal with Google and at the end of the day, you are dealing with a 3rd party that never really tells you the rules of the game in the way they are.

    I used to make 30-40K from Adsense per year… and I learned that it’s not a long term business option.

    Yes, Adsense can pay your rent, but you are at the mercy of Google… all the time.
    They don’t need to apologize to you, give you exact reasons, or even give you customer service.
    You as at their mercy.
    Best of luck mate, love your content.

  • Kit

    You are so lucky to get the warning. I have NEVER heard of this; so maybe that’s a good sign of good customer service to come for the rest of us.

    Also, I’ve been sitting in on some Google conversations, and I have a strong sense that Google Plus will play an important role in indexing sites in the future. :0)

  • Jackson

    Pat – You should keep the blue adsense links and change your site’s links to another color. Blue rules.

  • Moe

    I have a theory. My theory is that any high earning search terms or adsense categories will eventually be taken over by organizations that are partnered with Google in some way or the other.

    Everything with Google is now about the bottom line. Just think of the billions of $$ they can tap into by just grabbing more control of what they already have. Of-course they can never admit to this without completely losing their credibility.

  • Steve

    That is just not right. Seems to me Google is becoming more of a bully in this area of their business. It just not right.

  • Max

    With all the Google banned accounts for unfair reasons, I smell a law class action down the line … It’s just a matter of the internet victims getting organized.
    Things must change at some point. Google must remain fair and respectful of their own TOS. And retroactive punishments are not to be considered fair if the actions were following the guidelines of the time.

  • Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli)

    Hi Pat (and others) – as one who has had her adsense acct suspended, I feel you pain. But you know, someday there will be an internet w/o so much g-influence,. (i think lol) But the company has made alot of enemies..It reminds me of Nestle…there is a worldwide boycott against Nestle, but they just keep on truckin’….but it sure is demeaning to the company to see their log crossed out on so many websites…m/b that will happen to google someday..I wonder what would happen if there was a class-action suit against them??? Any enterprising lawyers out there in need of some biz and some money?

  • Salman Ahsan

    Like Warren Buffet said, Never put all your eggs in 1 basket :). Sometimes I really don’t understand Google’s TOS. It’s funny cuz at times I feel some of their terms contradict themselves :-/ errr


    Hi Pat, this experience is a warning signal that it no longer make sense for you to carry all your eggs in one basket.You may be extra careful,but yet your eggs will be broken though.
    Since Google has become internet all mighty,diversification is the best landing foam for you and every other Internet Entrepreneur, seeing that Google has become so unpredictable and inconsistent,changing their TOS and algorithm every now and then without due consideration of the implication on publishers.
    Lets excavate the net and discover more alternatives to adsense and plug into them,

    • Kathy Morelli, LPC (@KathyAMorelli)

      I like your idea of excavating he net and finding other sources…that is the most sane thing to do…Has a monopoly formed right under our noses?

  • Adam


    I am glad it wasn’t anything bad and that your site is still making good money. It is kind of strange that you would have got something like this though.


  • Dwight Anthony

    This is bad news from the big G and they are really ticking a lot of people off with their last penguin updates and tacking down on adsense sites. Have you thought about using ad servers such as Chitika e.t.c.?

  • Mark Conger


  • Ralph | Niche Websites


    It is a “well known” fact that google has two different branches within the Adsense department (for lack of a better word) that don’t work together and giving alternating advice on how to implement your Adsense Ads.

    sigh.. really annoying …

  • Justin

    You’re a lucky one. I know some that have gotten the ban hammer. I would never rely on google..good thing you don’t. They’re way too big and just ban without a notice in most cases. I’m not sure they know what they want, a lot of mis-information and being hypocrits on their end. Lesson is don’t make sites that soley relly on Google and hopefully you .get lucky like pat

  • John Corcoran

    Sounds like a pretty frustrating experience. I’m glad your account didn’t get banned though – that would have been painful.

    I would compare that Google adsense policy to law-making — both are like making sausage. You don’t want to know what goes into it. Except I guess sausage tastes good, whereas Google’s adsense policy isn’t so good … OK, so it’s not a great metaphor. But the point is: it’s very difficult to draft rules that achieve often competing goals.

    Here’s the problem: the Terms of Service was probably drafted by Google lawyers, and it’s not enforced by the same people. As a result, there are problems in enforcement and in interpretation. This is compounded by the fact that the Google policies are inconsistent so it creates a situation where a Google employee tasked with checking to see if certain websites are compliant with the TOS can “cherry pick” whichever policies they need to support their case.

    I think the folks at Google need to go back to the drawing board, because the policy as it reads now is too contradictory and too arbitrary.

  • SteveM

    Thanks for your story, Pat. Amongst other things, this illustrates why Google’s stock has meandered around for years and Apple’s has been on a general upward trajectory. Apple may stumble in some of its app store policy-making, but there’s usually a rhyme and reason for what they do. Your story describes a fickle boss reversing his/her own official recommendations on a dime. As your guest from the astronomy web site advised, it would be an ill-advised course of action to be “passive” with Google, and to count on them doing their part in your strategizing and moneymaking. Good luck.

  • Karen

    Could anyone give me some advice . . . I’m just wondering if it’s better to have a separate Google Adsense account for each website instead of one Google account that encompasses several websites.

    If Google decided to ban my account right now, I would lose revenue from several websites and it would be hard to know which one was the culprit (unless they chose to tell me.)

    Wouldn’t it be better to have several Adsense accounts, so that if one gets banned the others can keep going? Is that even allowed? Do other people do that?

    Any response would be appreciated!

  • Derek

    Just starting to learn a bit about Adsense – guess I need to learn a bit more. Thanks as always Pat for the great information. I hope that some day I am able to dispense great info and tips like you.

    Have a successful day!


  • Lisa Marie Mary

    It kind of feels like we’re all teenagers, and we’re getting messages from our parents so confused – because they either are mixed messages or just sound like it to us. I’d say definitely mixed in both cases – my parental unit and Google! And my own teens have said the same about hubby and I, and I think been spot on a time or two. Parents just don’t understand. Google just doesn’t understand.

    • Lisa Marie Mary

      Oops, got email wrong – thank goodness Gravatar (or lack thereof!) alerted me!

  • bashir


    The only thing that you must observe & follow, is policies laid down by Google, for every country they follow different policies, so next time don’t forget to read fist.

  • Robert Longley

    I got a similar letter from Google about a month ago. Someone had used one of my directory sites to load hundreds of porn site URLs. Not how I wanted to spend 2 hours cleaning up and essentially locking down the site, but it beats the alternative.

  • Susan Rose

    Hi Pat ~ Always been leery with Goggle Adsense when I have a site on SBI with Insurance info and all the ads were for Insurance with my competitors. When the page I wrote was about Health Insurance it was filled with ads of others selling Health Insurance.

  • Btbuzz

    Strange looks fine to me. I’m really tired of Penguins Pandas and the rest of this stuff. I really dislike the “who shot kennedy way of thinking”, but maybe it’s just a reminder were watching you, because your a well know figure and mentor a lot of people. Let common sense prevail.

  • Jared Kimball

    Wow! Crazy…and interesting. Looks like there is a little contradiction going on in the house of Google.

    Pat, your story with is so inspiring to so many people. I hate to see Google step in and start pushing everyone around…especially the good guys like you.

    I’m glad they didn’t ban you, but I’m sure the next income report will see a little drop in earnings since you had to change the color of the links.

    Bummer man!

  • Chris @ Good Looking Loser

    Sorry to here this Pat, happy you are still in business and thanks for the concise write up. Guys be careful about your accounts too. Call me crazy but I’d be scared to say anything good or bad about google anywhere on the Internet.

  • Jen

    I often wondering if those who are not making a lot of money from google have encountered the same problem. At least they gave you an opportunity to fix whatever they consider a problem.

  • howard

    hey pat you are lucky u got a warning, i was banned for life.

  • Btbuzz

    Fear sucks and to live that way, I’m a American I say what i want.
    Don’t let any one bull dog you, If you fall prey to that belief , you turn back time.
    I’m being real polite in this statement on that. trust me. Pit bulls are loving animals , but don’t piss one off. ……You dig.

  • Jose

    Actually, they allow format mimicking to the highest level if you are one of their “partners”. Look at and you will see what I mean.

  • Adarsh Thampy


    I’d bet the email was due to you using the top text ads which appears to be like navigation. The earlier color scheme you had would definitely make the reader think that it was part of navigation and not an advertisement.


    • Matthew

      Reckon you’re spot on with this Adarsh. The location of these links is misleading, even with the modified link colour. I agree that Google is making it hard for publishers by flip flopping on ambiguous rules, but if I were you Pat, I’d be seriously considering this ad positioning…

  • Charles Buzzard

    Perhaps the time has come to begin thinking about eliminating Google as a source, both potential and actual, of even a part of our incomes. Clearly, they are becoming drunk with power, and none of us need to be living in an atmosphere of F.U.D. (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) which is apparently the new attitude at Google.

    • David Anderson

      I think that if Google is trying to provide the best search experience possible to users and the best return on investment to advertisers then you have nothing to fear. F.U.D. is best left to politicians…

      • Kevin

        First and foremost Google is going to maximize its revenue. Other concerns are secondary.

    • Ye

      Adsense is probably the easiest monetization method, but I thought it should be used only when there is no other option. Adsense payouts are way too low. Although it is a time consuming process, it is much more profitable if we can contact and negotiate advertisers directly. For the very targeted traffic, lead generation networks also work very well.

    • Brian

      Yup, I feel you. Relying on Google for traffic is a double edged sword. You can get great SEO traffic, but when Google decides to have a hissy fit, BOOM, traffic all gone.

      This is why I really focus on diversifying my traffic sources more than ever!

      If you anyone here is wise, they would be smart to do the same.

      “Not all your eggs in 1 basket!”

  • Dan

    The hypocracy from Google is starting to become REALLY laughable.
    Check this site out.
    Wisegeek has millions of monthly visitors, alexa rank of around 1000 and all monetized with adsense.
    I challenge you to find a site that blend the ads as much as they do.

  • Stephanie

    I used to work for Monster and a popular thing I’ve seen on big sites is to have an advertisement label so that anyone that comes to the site will quickly know “Oh yea, that’s an ad”. (check out for an example)

    It may / may not be an alternative to changing the color of the ad entirely.

  • Sheila Bergquist

    That’s scary Pat! It’s gotten to the point where I’m not sure what is acceptable and what isn’t! I wish Google would let up!
    Thanks for sharing this and letting us know what you did about it.

  • Alan

    Hey Pat.
    This is a bummer. I know you test a lot and try to do things the “right way”.

    My tests have shown that making the ads contrast with the surrounding copy actually results in higher CTR as people are fairly blind now to blended ads. So perhaps you want to try something bolder than gold!

    IMO the only thing you can expect from Google these days in inconsistency, because they keep changing things so frequent I doubt even their own people can keep up. Although sometimes I think they are just perverse. :(

  • Allan Peters

    I’m not sure what to do. I’m hoping things settle down. I’ve worked in many factories in my day and when ever the “powers that be” (the one percent) get a bug up their butts all hell breaks lose. People get fired, others get promoted or demoted, and for no reason. Then, as if by magic, POOF………. all is better. Nobody has made more money. Nothing has happened or changed but some jerk in a corner office somewhere smiles and says, “Gee, That Worked Great!” stocks should be up soon. We will all pass and the “Powers That Be” (the one percent) will end up with more. Go figure………. :-)~

  • Shalu Sharma

    This is the first time, I have known that they send out warnings. They must be observing your domains and your account. I remember last year there was a wave of youtube accounts being banned.

  • Mervyn George

    Maybe Google sees a difference between:
    – trying to make your ad look more like your website, and
    – trying to make your website look more like your ad

    If so, it’s the latter they’re complaining about.

    • Victoria

      This is exactly what I was thinking. Maybe it isn’t really blending it to look like your site as it is making your site look like their ads. hmmm. I really am beginning not to trust Google and their policy but I love their search engine, ugh.

  • Izzy

    Pat, I love you (rather gracefully) just totally called Google out.

    You basically, explained exactly what happened then showed how they contributed to it.

    I wouldn’t let google watch my kids either.

    Great line!

  • Ramsay from Blog Tyrant

    Man o man.

    Similar thing happened to me with Google search rankings a few years ago. Just makes me think that relying on Google or any website for anything exclusively is just a massive mistake.

    Thanks for sharing Pat.


  • Cristian


    I’ve got a warning from AdSense before, but it was for fraud and stuff like that. My account is still active.

    If I were you I would just change the color scheme, so that it won’t match the color of your links anymore.

    PS: I told you that your Adsense earnings will drop after adding direct advertising :).

    Good luck!

  • ilija

    Maybe the problem on the SGThq is in link unit because it looks like navigation. I think the problem is not in blending (color of links in ad units).

    • Chuck

      That was my thought to, the link that reads, “Ads by Google” under the Banner. Looks like navigation. Could Google have only seen that – above the “fold” and not gone on down the page to the Ads? Maybe its not the blue or gold color at all.

  • Matthew Allen

    Thanks for sharing Pat! As a bit of a newbie to the niche site scene, this concerns me a little. I’ve had the advantage of reading your site and others to learn what to do and what not to do while building niche sites.. but it’s kind of confusing when stuff like this happens. You play by the rules (seemingly) and you still get burned. Regardless, I’m still jumping into the niche site scene.

  • Allan


    Now I’m just wondering if we should start implementing this on our own adsense sites, or wait for the potential warning message. I guess if you want to play it safe you should change it asap.

    But it doesn’t come without a cost, and as you say pat, changing the color of the ads makes a big difference on the CTR.

    For now I’ll just not touch anything. Don’t fix anything that ain’t broken is my mantra in this case.

  • Albert

    ok got it. But what about then?
    Open any of the latest published articles and see the blend type over there. :(

  • Btbuzz Maybe they should add some pretty gold adsense text.
    Guess they don’t need it at $4.50 a gallon and using border jumpers to work at their well decorated stations to stick us you know where. Maybe they should use a recording of “bringing in the sheep” when u slip that 28% credit card we have in their cha ching machines.

  • Ian McConnell

    These sort of obstacles can be so disruptive, because you don’t really know where the boundaries lie with the big G. It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day we all have a choice… use Adsense and hope you get it right or test affiliate banners and you’ll probably get a better ROI.

    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia

  • Ben Troy

    Thanks for announcing this policy, i also have sites with similar the same violations, i’ll change right away following your guide .

  • Chris

    Wow. If only this post came out earlier I could have saved my Adsense account. I was blending the colors to match the background and it’s mostly non-white!

    Pat is so lucky to have received that email.

    But the readers can benefit from this report.

  • Nick

    Thank you for sharing this so openly and clearly.

  • Liora Hess

    I received an equally confusing and punitive-sounding email from Google in the past after trying to run an ad with them. Now they keep emailing and snail mailing offers to give them another try and use their help number to get one of their humans involved. Maybe contacting them would be the best solution since it seems apparent that their little bots that examine advertising don’t have it all together.

  • Jack

    Oh, great article. Im newbie to this, so it was really really helpfull. Thank you very much, hope i can see more like this one!

  • Yogendra

    Very informative article though you’re one of Google Adsense’s victim, but it will help to others including me.

  • Cipto

    Google Adsense is like handling Golden eggs. So we must be careful about strategy we implemented in our website. If I received the email like that, I will take it out all adsense format to avoid banned and will be a safe player.

  • Alan | Life’s Too Good

    I got a scary message about Adsense from Google too some time back but luckily it was after I’d taken all advertisements off my website (which were mostly adsense) – they were paying me money but I’d far rather my reader has a good experience and build something I can stand behind as a quality website than have the distraction of ads (particularly because these ads take readers away from your website).

    So when the mail came in my case I couldn’t care less. Still don’t 😉

  • Sheyi @

    Google is not been fair here. Why would they have to give you a notive before ban and just ban others like that – what’s the secret thing you have with google that made them always re-list your SGT site on top of their search?


  • karl

    Pat it get better

    I run a blog which is casino related (work in the industry so an obvious choice) I have affiliate gaming adverts on there and I did apply to google adsense to show adverts on my page but they DECLINED me as I was associated with gambling. Fair enough rules are rules. UNTIL tonight I go onto my own blog, the one I thought I owned (paid for the name and hosting) and on there overwritten on MY OWN adverts are ads from adsense ,, these are my own affiliate links which are being overwritten by GOOGLE , how dare they and how do they do that
    I checked on my wifes laptop and viewing on her laptop its my own ads i can see
    how can this happen ,, the only guidance I can get is that Google tries to show me ads tailored to my past history as a have a google + account , but this is my site my ads
    at present its advertising underarm ladies bags for gawds, sake not looked at one of those in years (kidding) any thoughts or advice welcomed

    • Rob

      Your computer has probably got a virus or malware. It’s not Google that is replacing your ads, it’s the malicious software that is installed on your computer which is doing it, generating adsense revenue for some dodgy hacker.

    • Rob

      Ps, you should download and install some anti-malware software, I use Malware Bytes, which has a free version

  • Katie

    I just got a newsletter from Google Adsense with an example of a high adsense earning site. The site had one Google ad in it, which was completely masked. What a contradiction.

  • Craig

    I’ve noticed plenty of niche websites that have EXTREME blending on it. I’m sure those people must know someone at google….pffft. What’s next? Google not crawling this page?

  • Tim

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the ones that are horizontal below the main graphic. I think I remember you saying something not long ago about adding that. Maybe they view that as deceiving? Any noob that doesn’t surf the web much might think that it’s your menu bar. It’s just a guess though.

  • Michael

    I hate that this happened Pat, and I’m glad that you are ok with Google – for now. Google has too much power.

  • The Happy Rock

    From reading the email and the guidelines, I would say that it is either about having to many ads and not enough content above the fold, or more likely the link unit which looks like a menu bar(especially when it was not gold).

    I would say the design makes it look like a natural menu bar and could encourage ‘unnatural’ clicks.

    Personally, though many sites still do it I have always thought the practice was a little sleazy and misleading.

  • Andrea T.H.W.

    I knew from experience that Google hits websites which use competitors ads, fair business practice, isn’t it? And peace to all their quality blabbering, actually even after Penguin Google still shows big dogs first in their results between their own ads.

    But what I find really funny is that if this year you follow Google’s own advices to rank well or earn more next year you’ll be hit by a Google update. Best SEO practices, ads above the fold and so on. Those guys have really gone living in another dimension.

  • Millionaire Dating

    what I find really funny is that if this year you follow Google’s own advices to rank well or earn more next year you’ll be hit by a Google update. Best SEO practices, ads above the fold and so on. Those guys have really gone living in another dimension. Wealthy men busy at work all day, no time to enjoy the life, when you feel lonely why not to find their true love? Google lovewealthy and increase your chances in meeting the man of your dreams.You can be one to one chat, members are to undergo a rigorous screening, don’t worry about dating and personal privacy issues. Good luck!

  • Lubo

    I wonder if the color of the ads was the problem. Maybe it was their placement.

    I hope someone from google follows this blog and makes an official statement what exactly the issue was.

  • Ozhan

    Sometimes it is so hard to understand Adsense.

  • Matt john Canty

    use affiliates as much as possible…. Adsense is a joke….they can ban you at any time and not only that one click and the customer is gone forever. Affiliates you may be paid once twice or even monthly on some programs.

  • Sanjib Saha

    When i applied for Google Adsense i got two mails from them. The first one says
    ” Due to in appropriate Address, my application was rejected ”
    Just after one hour i got another mail which says
    ” Welcome to AdSense!

    We have completed a partial review of your application, but you may begin implementing AdSense code on your site. ”

    I really can’t understand what was the reason behind the first mail!

  • Read More

    This is a topic that is close to my heart… Many thanks!
    Where are your contact details though?

  • eDee

    I’m always looking for new and better PPC’s.
    Many pay more and have less rules, but of course, AdSense somehow works better. So I’m stuck until I’m a random ban and forced to change.

    • Alba

      Hi there, this happened to us too and we haven’t found a good replacement for our site, have you had any luck? who do you use as an alternative?

  • Ben

    Somthings definatly happening with adsense could it be down to a few malicous google employees? god only knows but this is why i diversify my earning accross other methods other than adsense

  • Mike

    I lost my AdSense account and I did my own analysis of the possible reasons over at my own site ( It is difficult to know for sure why it happened, because I received no warning, nor does Google provide any reasons when they terminate you.

    I went into this with the “just get out there and do it! Don’t worry about making mistakes” philosophy that permeates the blogosphere, but in retrospect I wish I would’ve monetized with AdSense only after I had systems and knowledge in place to help prevent what occurred.

    All of the AdSense alternatives that I’ve tried have really underperformed AdSense. I recommend that people take a look at my own newbie mistakes and avoid them. A better alternative would be for Google to treat people more decently, but I’m not holding my breath!

    Also, I very well might consider an LLC or a family member AdSense account in the future if the other services continue to perform so poorly.

    Good luck!

  • Matt

    Speaking of getting a flag, I just had my first article unpublished by Squidoo even though I spun one of my original articles and had over a 60% uniqueness score. I published it last night and it was unpublished this morning.

  • Steve Wyman

    HI PAT

    I’m not convince you have this right.

    I’m more inclined to go with Tim and one of the other guys above.

    Those horizontal sections which are placed under headers are the biggest problem most likely.

    They are great placements for some sites but heck its obviously confusing or open to confusion.

    I stopped using them sometime ago even in CTR theme. I would be neat if you had a way to find out?

    Yesterday i did a test on my best site changing the ad text from the “google blue” they use on adwords (which ive found to be excellent) to a light blue color
    it dropped the CTR on that site from 35% to under 7% yesterday!! thats on a white background and well away from other menus etc.

    So its a real issue if hey are suggesting hat ad colors cant be the same as menu colors?

  • Patrick

    Thanks for writing this article. Sadly I lost my Adsense account recently after being a member for 3 years. I believe I lost it because I added some new sites that I bought at flippa. There’s nothing wrong with flippa, but I should have been more careful about the websites I bought and where I put my ads.

    That being said, I never received a warning. So I don’t really know the reason why. And the whole process seemed somewhat heartless and impersonal. If I had received feedback about what was wrong I would have changed where my ads were displayed.

  • Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager

    Wonder if Google is going to see this blog post 😉

  • Dave

    The ‘changing’ of rules is really making bloggers frustrated. Adsense accounts formed part of the online revenue. Things gets tougher in the online world man. Thats why multiple income streams are important. All the Best Pat!!

  • Ben Troy

    Great information on how to sort out adsense.

    Better to do it now rather than fix it later when you could be potentially losing money.

    I think this is the problem with all T&C’s they are written by lawyers in tiny print and go on forever.

    No-one can be bothered reading the whole thing.

    We could be signing up for 5 years in the Foreign Legion for all we know.

    Voted up and very useful.

  • Mavis Barry

    I was just banned from Google Adsense with only a small blog but because most of my traffic came from one source (Facebook) and I had a lot of clicks I got an “invalid clicks” email. I did file an appeal and with light speed they denied the appeal. I can’t help but wonder if it is because I was approaching that magic $100 mark? So many forums are filled with individuals who are banned with little reason. Back to earning it the old fashioned way! I will say I am not happy with them disabling an account without providing any detail.

  • vir

    I am wondering if we are running adsense for 5 or 6 years, do we have some authority in eyes of google. In this case I think Google will not ban straight away but gives you warning mail.

  • Dolphin247

    you have done a great job, your articles are realy interesting and nice, keep writing, i will come offten to read your articles.

    • Mavis Barry

      yes this article is very important to announce the TOS of adsense now.

  • jules @ iVideo Hero

    Great info here, in the article and comments, you’ll save us all some heartache!

  • De Linkbuilder

    Wow that is something! I use the ads as well in a way like you just described. I don’t want to change it actually because the CTR is good now. Let’s wait and pray!

    Like the way you describe Google in the end, couldn’t agree more ha ha

  • Nurul Chowdhury

    Hi Pat,

    I am building to niche sites for promoting adsense ads besides other promotional methods. Now, if Google keeps changing rules each an every time, how do we cope then.

    I am now wondering, what other ad methods are there other than Google adsense. Hope you can give some tips.

    Luv reading your articles.

  • Dave H

    I wouldn’t let my kids watch google…

  • Call

    I got a warning from G too, almost the same email; just 2 weeks ago, except they immediately disabled adsense on my site. I reworked my site completely (this cost me the entire week) and they thanked me for making the changes and activated the ads again! I am lookinh to divers my income into other IM activities, but still don’t know how.

  • Dean Saliba

    I was banned in 2004 for something I didn’t do and wasn’t aware of (a friend was clicking on my ads without my consent or knowledge), they allowed me back in 2009 I used the same account and they warned me to behave.

    A couple of months later they banned me again saying that the person who let me back in had done so when he/she wasn’t not meant to! :O

  • Jeremy Ruggles

    Hey Pat,

    Thanks for sharing this with us. Google really is getting petty. You are just lucky that they sent you a warning first. If they are having such a problem with the way their ads are placed on sites, then they should send out a document to everyone outlining the issues.

    I am no making much with adsense now, but this info will help me to make wise decisions in the near future.

    Take care,


  • Mike Jones

    I used to work for Monster and a popular thing I’ve seen on big sites is to have an advertisement label so that anyone that comes to the site will quickly know “Oh yea, that’s an ad”. (check out for an example)

    It may / may not be an alternative to changing the color of the ad entirely.

  • Dane

    How frustrating. I distinctly remember coming across the same Goog-recommended tactic for ad placement. Not cool. Sorry to hear it, Pat. Looking forward to watching how you bounce back, though.

  • Chris

    Hi Pat,
    I also get similar notification from GA, but it was 2 years ago.
    Now you can find all tips about best practices here:
    BR, Chris

  • Ron So

    Sorry to hear that Pat…

    This is getting crazy. I don’t run any Adsense at all, but I get angry just by reading all these posts about Google banning people for no reason.

    Really hope there will be a strong alternative for Adsense in the near future.


  • Towhid Zaman

    Google’s first priority is their Adwords clients.They are saving their revenue source & busting the poor publisher.. because they knows that 1 down .. 2 will come… :(

  • Mike

    Hi Pat,

    I still believe that at some point someone is going to come along and seriously compete with Google. They can’t (forever) keep making rash and cryptic decisions that in many cases affect people’s lives dramatically, while expecting to remain #1.

    At least I really hope someone challenges them soon!



  • Nathaniel

    I always like seeing the difference in what Google say and what they do. Doing a product search will show a page that has 75+% of the area above the fold as ads. Do that on a site and they will smack you with a penalty. The smart thing is to always have options other than Google ready to go for advertising and traffic.

  • Frances Arnold

    Amazing! I’m new to the online monetizing world, and was only starting to explore Google AdSense as an important strategy. I will be sure to follow this topic, as well as review links shared in the comments. Thank you, Pat and SPI community commentors!

  • Dana Rock

    I do not think that Google knows what they want half of the time – they are flying by the seat of their pants too. Its frustrating, confusing, and unpredictable – however, most business is like that to an extent. Just gotta roll with the punches 😉

  • Hate The Big G

    Not sure if you’re going to see this but I’ll comment anyway.

    I don’t think the colour of the links was the problem at all. I believe the reason you may have received the warning is because of the large map of the US of A right under the adsense ad block on your homepage. The big G does not like their ads anywhere near images as it is generally considered a black hat technique to get more clicks.

    You may want to consider adding a few lines of text between ad block and the map.

    I could be wrong but to me that seems a more logical explanation than the colour of the links on the ads, which as you pointed out is what they “encourage” in their own guide!

    Good luck…

    • Pat

      Not so sure – I mean I didn’t change anything with the map or spacing at all – and it’s been over a month now, and the account is still alive. They gave me 3 days.

      Point is – if they just took the time to say specifically what it was, then we wouldn’t all have to be playing this guessing game with no end.

      • Mike

        Amen. And I’d still have an AdSense account, instead of guessing why I was banned.

        I’ve appealed twice now and still get the maddening form letter with no explanation.

      • Warren

        That has always been my source of wonderment with Google. How is it that a company that big that is capable of doing what they do on a daily basis is unable to train those in power of our online properties (websites, adsense, adwords, etc.) so they can articulate what exactly is wrong with our websites and such. Trust me! We’d Change it! LOL

  • Hate The Big G

    Just checked out a few of your pages on the site and came across this one as well which has a image right next to the ad clock:

    I haven’t been through the whole site, but you may want to consider doing that.

  • shaun

    Well, my adsense got banned without a chance to amend. And up till now, I do not know what have I done wrong. Sigh. Emailed Google with no replies. It has been a week now.

  • Rita

    I am starting a niche legal website and I would not touch Google adsense with a 1000 foot long pole!

  • Rita

    I notice adsense ads appearing in my gmail accounts all the time; so let’s see: Google makes money from adwords, and Google makes money from adsense. Google is a behemoth! Is this not abuse of a dominant position? Is this not an anti-competitive practice/anti-trust issue?

  • prasion

    Hi, It may be google is not ok that you shows Adsense ads in job board along with indeed ads, I had similar problems in the past

  • Eli

    Google can obviously be a great resource for free traffic and other tools but do not fool yourself into thinking that if you follow the rules you are safe.

    You are not.

    Some marketers make the mistake of believing that only those who follow blackhat techniques are subject to getting their accounts suspended. It’s not true. There are plenty of above board marketers that have had their accounts closed and Google will hardly explain why.

    I recall reading about one of the top super affiliates on Clickbank getting their account closed by Google and he only got it back because one of the VP’s or other bigwigs at Clickbank made a phone call to Google.

    How many of you have that option in your back pocket?

    We know that Pat runs a great site and appears to be a straight up guy but I can assure you that he knows Google will close his account just like any other one that they have closed in the past.

    How many other companies in this entire world can make billions of dollars off of the efforts of others and not provide a single phone number or email to provide direct help?

    1. Google. lol

  • Eli

    One other thing I forgot to say, it is only a matter of time before a viable Google adsense option rises from the ashes. It may not be Bing or Yahoo but somebody is working on it as we speak.

    Even the most powerful fall when they don’t do the right thing and Google’s clock is ticking. Until then, ride the wave to the best of your ability.

  • Ritu

    Adsense is too much concerned about these things…

  • Michelle

    This is a fabulous post, thanks Pat. I don’t use adsense myself, never had any luck with it. I just use private advertisers specific to my topic, that way I don’t get any direct competitors on my site unless I have included an affiliate link and I know the products are of the same quality I expect. This is obviously a great topic for discussion. It was predicted that Google would fall down because of the danger of their brand becoming a common name, like ‘I’ll just Google it” and maybe this is the start. Unfortunately, only us internet marketers notice these problems and Google is still dominating the world search. I wonder how long it will take for that to change with Bing being incorporated into Microsoft.

  • Greg

    Hi Pat, I’ve been following your blog just for a few weeks but already started my own niche site after following your niche site dual, many thanks for guiding me through the start up.

    Now my question is would you recommend I skip Adsense altogether at this early stage and go with a competitor from the off? I would hate to live in fear of my account being closed.

    I’ve heard good things about, have you any experience with them?

    • 3D guy

      The title of your post was pretty scary to say the least. however, seems like google adsense is not so “bad” as it looks. They will warn you before they do any action. Im glad that you managed to escape from the ban…

  • peppermintpixel


    Wow, what a resourceful site, I just discovered it a few days ago and haven’t gotten anything done since, lol.

    I had a couple questions I couldn’t find in the archives so thought I’d throw them out here and see if anyone knows the answers.

    I know this post isn’t as relevant to my questions as the niche-site dual posts are, but I’m afraid the comments from those posts may not be currently visited by those of you who were following the dual.

    1) When setting up the first tier of anchor link web 2.0 properties, is it important to set each of them up under different names/email addys, or can you use the same one for each property?

    2) I’m curious what instigated Pat’s decision, last August, to change the design of his niche blog sgthq? I’m wondering how he realized it needed a change and how much the new design cost?


    Thank you.

  • dirty harry

    LOL – they are worried about your neat presentable blog, yet they are not concerned with the million splogs using adsense on them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!???????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    google – you ARE the biggest joke the internet has ever seen. You should all be wearing clown suits and smoking cigars on your unicycles

  • Jason Lepp

    Pretty scary e-mail to be honest… Seems like google is watching everyone..

  • Michael Vale

    Maybe Google sees a difference between:
    – trying to make your ad look more like your website, and
    – trying to make your website look more like your ad

    If so, it’s the latter they’re complaining about.

  • older men dating younger women

    Hi Pat, I’ve been following your blog just for a few weeks but already started my own niche site after following your niche site dual, many thanks for guiding me through the start up.

    Now my question is would you recommend I skip Adsense altogether at this early stage and go with a competitor from the off? I would hate to live in fear of my account being closed.
    One other thing I forgot to say, it is only a matter of time before a viable Google adsense option rises from the ashes. It may not be Bing or Yahoo but somebody is working on it as we speak.

    Even the most powerful fall when they don’t do the right thing and Google’s clock is ticking. Until then, ride the wave to the best of your ability.

  • mason

    You need to follow the rules. I once got banned from adsense, wasnt good at all. Lost almost $4000 that year. however, im back in the game now :)

  • Kellie

    Regarding the “warning” someone mentioned above, not true. I got NO warning whatsoever. Even though I got a new laptop, when I go to Google Adsense website, it already recognizes me and tells me I am banned. I did nothing at all wrong. Google is too big, too powerful in my opinion.

  • mahfooz

    When i applied for Google Adsense i got two mails from them. The i waited for few days every time i got reply your adsense has been disapproved due to content but then after few days they approved it
    ” Welcome to AdSense!

    We have completed a partial review of your application, but you may begin implementing AdSense code on your site. ”

    I really can’t understand what was the reason behind the first mail!

  • Tejindra singh

    Yeah I have also receive this mail in my account.I love Google Adsense its give me high revenue then any other advertising company.

  • sai krishna

    So you have a good experience with google adsense, I’ll bookmark this article, it will help me if i got same mail from google adsense.

  • wealthy dating sites

    Regarding the “warning” someone mentioned above, not true. I got NO warning whatsoever. Even though I got a new laptop, when I go to Google Adsense website, it already recognizes me and tells me I am banned. I did nothing at all wrong. Google is too big, too powerful in my opinion.

    The title of your post was pretty scary to say the least. however, seems like google adsense is not so “bad” as it looks. They will warn you before they do any action. Im glad that you managed to escape from the ban…

  • millionaire dating

    Not sure if you’re going to see this but I’ll comment anyway.

    I don’t think the colour of the links was the problem at all. I believe the reason you may have received the warning is because of the large map of the US of A right under the adsense ad block on your homepage. The big G does not like their ads anywhere near images as it is generally considered a black hat technique to get more clicks.

    You may want to consider adding a few lines of text between ad block and the map.

  • E Okul

    The point here is to prevent visitor dissatisfaction. If they click a link assuming that it belongs to the website they are currently in than the website would be misleading its visitor in order to receive a click revenue and the visitor would be confused and frustrated. Overall, any visitor on any site should only click an ad knowing that it is an ad indeed.

  • tv izle

    than the website would be misleading its visitor in order to receive.

  • Letselschade Juristen

    Even the most powerful fall when they don’t do the right thing and Google’s clock is ticking. Until then, ride the wave to the best of your ability

  • Streusalz

    The title of your post was pretty scary to say the least. however, seems like google adsense is not so “bad” as it looks. They will warn you before they do any action. Im glad that you managed to escape from the

  • Juristenkantoor

    It was predicted that Google would fall down because of the danger of their brand becoming a common name, like ‘I’ll just Google it” and maybe this is the start. Unfortunately, only us internet marketers notice these problems and Google is still dominating the world search. I wonder how long it will take for that to change with Bing being incorporated into Microsoft.

  • Marry a millionaire

    Yahoo and google have certainly come a Extended way Given that their 3 servers in a garage Times! I wonder if there’s Anybody left in the company who actually remembers the Preliminary reasons for why they started in the Very first Location. Energy currupts I suppose.

    I know nothing about adsense, cpc, cpm, cpr or What ever. But what I do know is, if google were
    creating a Adverse element within my Company, I would be looking at other Possibilities pretty damned quick.

    If the income you make from your adsense account is so significant that you have to keep bending
    to googles whim, and worrying about an email dropping into your inbox, then so-be-it. But if it’s
    Some thing you could make up for with other Possibilities, then I would be telling them to go to hell and use that freed up Potential to concentrate on People other Possibilities, or your Family members, or your dog, or What ever really matters in Existence.

    Ironically, if you want to Locate other Possibilities I suppose you would have to google i

  • Offertes

    Thank you for writing this blog. Obviously, Google has the right to create a firm policy, as they have to prevent websites with bad intentions from earning revenue in a way that is bad for the advertisers of Google. Unfortunately, websites with good intentions can get stuck in the middle, as they are automatically picked up by the robots as a possible violator of the policy. Your blog post illustrates well what options you have when you receive such an e-mail from Google. Thank you for your effort. It’s been useful to me!

  • ?????? ???????

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  • Chuck Bluestein

    This may be a good reason to put articles on something like HubPages where you get 60% from the Adsense ads. They are among the 300 biggest websites and have professional people that figure where to place the Adsense ads. Also they have filters to find where there may be violations to Adsense.

  • news blog

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  • ramesh babu

    Your blog provided us with valuable information to work with. Each & every tips of your post are awesome. Thanks a lot for sharing. Keep blogging

  • Sudheer Yadav


  • Rahul Sangra
  • Ironthumb

    How about those new ANIMATED ads-
    would those be more effective than blended ads?

  • mumbai aao

    great artical sir , please read my artical on adsence sir @

  • justpass

    maybe, you have decent invalid click.