Know your Adsense TOS !
It seems that not a day goes by that I don't read a post at DP Forums or WMW from some poor n00b that has either had his Adsense Ads temporarily disabled or banned completely for a violation of the Adsense Terms of Service (TOS) that he or she genuinely was not aware of. To be honest, I did not really read through the Adsense Terms of Service and Policies until I had been using Adsense for 4 or 5 months. I skimmed over it when I first signed up and I can remember thinking to myself, "ehh, I'm not going to do anything stupid".. Well, not knowing the TOS and polices is the first stupid thing I did.
The Adsense Polices and Terms of Service pages are huge, and will take a good 10-15 minutes to read - and unless you are a lawyer, most of it is extremely boring. Because of this I have grabbed a few of the TOS and policy points that are most likely to get you into hot-water with the boys over at the GooglePlex if you weren't aware of them.
- DO NOT CLICK YOUR OWN ADS - Yeah, you would think this is common sense, but many Adsense publishers are not aware of this very important rule. Of course more webmasters are very aware of this and try to get away with doing it anyway.
- DO NOT ENCOURAGE CLICKS IN ANY WAY - Most webmasters know that you are not allowed to ask visitors to click on your Adsense for Content ads, but you also cannot place your ads or adlinks in a way that tricks your visitors into clicking them. An example of this would be making your ads appear as menu items. Note that this does not apply to referrals. In the past there was confusion about "endorsing" (or whoring as I call it) your referrals. This confusion was largely due to the wording in the Terms of Service. Google has updated and clarified their stand on endorsing/encouraging clicks on referrals, and it is allowed to endorse referrals. Have a look at Google's own Referrals Endorsement Help page - Notice too that they use our site, GrownUpGeek.com as a shining example!
- WATCH YOUR CONTENT: To most (but not all) webmasters it's obvious that Google does not allow Adsense ads on sites with "Adult" content. Notice that I did not say "porn". There is a difference between porn and simply "adult" so be careful. Google also does not allow Adsense on pages that contain "hate" content, Warez, or anything illegal. But also be aware that content or promotion of gambling, weapons, alcohol, tobacco, prescription drugs (or non-prescription for that matter), fake goods (like phoney Rolex watches), and even term papers or essays are not permitted. A good rule of thumb on content is that if you are not proud to show it to your grandmother, Google probably will not like it. Any kind of black-hat SEO on your pages can also get you banned from Adsense in addition to getting your site banned from the search index.
- COPYRIGHTED CONTENT IS NOT PERMITTED: Unless you own the content. This means that copying and pasting from another website can get you into trouble. This is also true for music and videos, meaning that you cannot display Adsense on pages that contain copyrighted music downloads or videos.
- DO NOT CHANGE YOUR ADSENSE CODE: All your customizations should be done via the Adsense setup page.
- DO NOT PUT YOUR ADSENSE ADS IN YOUR SPAM: Everybody hates spam, especially Google.
- NO CONTENT, NO ADSENSE: Your pages must contain content! Pages with nothing but ads are not permitted.
- ONE ACCOUNT PER PERSON: You are only allowed to have ONE Adsense account unless you are authorized by Google to have more than one.
- YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ADS: It is up to you to ensure that you and your visitors do not violate the Terms of Service. Google is not obligated to notify you of a problem.
- GOOGLE CAN TERMINATE YOUR ACCOUNT WHENEVER THEY WANT: They do not have to give you a reason, but if they terminate your account they have a reason.
- DO NOT DISCLOSE YOUR STATISTICS: This one is overlooked by many webmasters. You are not allowed to post any information such as click-thru-rates, impressions, eCPM, etc in public. You are permitted to disclose gross earnings, but that's all.
- YOU ARE NOT A GOOGLE EMPLOYEE: Nor are you in any "partnership" with Google. As an Adsense publisher you are simply a independent contractor
- Competitors ARE allowed on the same page: In the past you were not allowed to display other contextually based advertising on the same page as Adsense ads. In May 2007 Google updated this policy. You are now allowed to use competing contextually based advertising on the same page as long as that advertising does not have the same "look and feel" of your Adsense ads and as long as they cannot be confused with Adsense.
This is NOT A COMPLETE LIST of the Adsense rules and policies. These are just a few of the rules that I have seen broken most often by new Adsense publishers. If you have not already done so, I highly recommend that you read the complete Adsense Terms of Service and polices available here:Adsense Terms and Conditions of ServiceAdsense Policies for U.S. publishers