This is a story without a happy ending, having to do with a large company with no customer service, and it started in March of 2009.
It is about a company that seems to have grown so large and become so successful, that it can no longer afford to put people in place to help others. What I plan on sharing with you is not so much that I was banned from Google’s Adsense program, but the processes through which I tried to resolve the problem and the results of that. I will discuss a little about the process of being banned and what, I am pretty sure, was the cause of my being banned.
Monetizing my site.
After my site, this site that you are visiting right now, had been up for s few years, I decided that I would like to see if I could make a little money from it. Not being sure how to go about it, I was told about using a service like AdSense, that would allow people to click on content relevant links on my blog, and send them to other sites. I, in turn, could recieve a small stipend from AdSense for people doing this if they were good clicks.
I am sure I do not need to explain the process to you folks reading this. Pay-per-click has been around long enough at this point and there are enough of them out there, that this should all be common knowledge to even the greenest of surfers at this point, So I will not bore you with THOSE details.
Shortly after the site went live, I received an email that, for anyone who runs a site and has AdSense, makes the blood freeze in your veins. The notice from Google that my account had been suspended because of invalid clicks. Through some investigation, I finally determined that was happened was that my wife had, without knowledge of the consequences, followed several links on my pages to advertisers. Because of the fact that these clicks came from the same IP as my home, even though it was a different computer, they determined that I was attempting to defraud them, and closed my account.
This is where the issues I have with Google start.
Customer Service (or the lack there of.)
When I first received the email for Google explaining that there was a problem, I panicked. I did not want to have a mark against me with something like this, so I sent in a request for more information. This is when I discovered that Google has a policy about not sharing the the details of HOW they know that you may have been the cause of the invalid clicks on your site that cause the Ban. They appear to have a proprietary system that they cannot tell you how they know, for then, I am assuming, you might learn how to defeat it.
I had, during this time, start my own investigation online to see if other people had suffered this fate and what they had done to overcome it. I was not disapointed, and I discovered that I was part of what appeared to be a very large family of people that had been banned by Google for thing that they considered to be violations.
I will not say that everyone that I met on the Google AdSense forums was innocent. Quite the opposite, in fact. There were a great number on there that, when you visited their sites, were in clear violation of the TOS for the AdSense program. Some of these were sites that I cannot understand how or why they were accepted in the first place.
Then there were many that were banned for very minor issues, the most common of which is not having a privacy statement. Some of these sites were also guilty of have two or more Monetizing services set up to work on their sites. Then there were yet others that I, no matter how hard I tried, could find nothing obviously incriminating about them. This left me to assume that they might have been in the same boat as I was myself.
During this time, I had submitted my first Appeal to the Adsense team and waited to see what the response would be. I wrote a detailed explanation of what I think was the cause of the erroneous clicks and informed them that this would not happen again. After I sent this I decided to spend what I thought was going to be a few days looking at the other people and seeing if I could offer advice on the forums.
Within a matter of hour, or so, I received a reply from them stating that they replied stating that they reviewed my request and my site and decided that my site, the one you are reading right now, represented to much of a risk to the Adsense advertisers and they would not allow me back into the system.
Thus started my crusade.
I continued to putter around on the forums and answer questions here and there. I also made it a point to try and corner a Google employee, on the rare ocassions that one posted something there, but always met with defeat. They would either not answer any of my questions, or they would refer me to the TOS.
This served as nothing more than fuel for my ire. I was not content to just sit and not do something about it. Yes, a mistake was made on my part, but it was just that, a mistake. We all make them and they are meant to be forgiven at least once. I can understand it if you make the same ones over and over again, then there is a time to cut a person loose.
So I continued to try and reach someone, anyone, that could help me out. I found numbers to call within Google and those got me nowhere. It seemed that when I reached a person, they knew nothing or did not know where to direct me. I sent letters to any address I could find, even being so nice as to include self addressed, stamped envelopes with them. All explaining my situation and then asking them to reconsider their banning me. I never received a reply.
Google has still not contacted me, and I am still banned from their Adsense program, but I am still working on them. I am not going to just let this go. This draconian attitude that they have of only giving a person a single chance just does not make sense to me. One and your done, I think is what someone on the forums told me.
Google needs to really rethink this program if that is the attitude they wish to keep. Or, if they plan on playing that way, at least do us all the honor of not even pretending and eliminate the whole “Appeals” process. It is all just smoke and mirrors anyway and only seems to serve the process of making people THINK they have a chance to get back into the system.
I have since moved on to a company called InfoLinks for my site advertising. Granted, I am not getting rich and I do not expect to break the bank anytime soon, but that was never what it was about. All I ever hoped to do was make enough to pay for some of my operating costs for this site. Anything more would have been icing on the cake.