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  • What Google’s 3-Strike Ad Policy Means for Small Business Advertisers

Did you recently receive an email from Google alerting you to the new strike-based system they plan to roll out on September 21, 2021? If so, you’re not alone.

While phrases like “issuing strikes,” “temporary account hold,” and “suspended accounts” may ring the alarm bells, there’s no need to panic (yet!).

google 3-strike policy email

We took a deeper dive into:

  • What the Google Ads 3-strike policy announcement really means
  • What businesses will be impacted
  • What to do if you receive a warning or strike
  • How you can prepare and protect your account

Get the details so you can get prepared and understand how (and if) this latest announcement impacts your business.


What is Google’s 3-strike policy?

Google states that they are introducing a “new strike-based system to enforce against advertisers who repeatedly violate Google Ads policies.”

Let’s look at the details of what that means.

Who does Google’s 3-strike system impact?

Right now, Google’s strike-based system only impacts three policies:

1. Enabling dishonest behavior

This includes businesses or individuals that provide fake documents (such as fake IDs or passports), hacking services, products used to track a person without their knowledge, and more. Get the full list here.

2. Unapproved pharmaceuticals and supplements

Google lists the specific substances and pharmaceuticals they’re referring to here.

3. Explosives, other weapons, and tobacco

This includes products that are meant to cause damage to people or property, guns (including airsoft and BB-guns), switchblades, pepper spray, and more. You can view the full list here.

who is impacted by google ads 3-strike policy

Google says they will expand this over time to include additional policies and that Google advertisers will be notified via email each time new policies are added.

What if my business isn’t impacted?

If your business doesn’t offer products or services related to the three policies outlined, then you’re in the clear (for now!). Google will be rolling this out for more policies in the future, so it’s important to stay on top the latest updates and make sure all your ads are following Google Ad policies to avoid account suspension unrelated to the 3-strike system.

How do the strikes work?

Google states they will issue a series of three strikes, with the third resulting in an account suspension. Let’s take a closer look at how this will work.


Before the first strike is issued, advertisers will receive a warning via email as well as an in-account notification.

Strike one

If a further violation occurs after the warning, the first strike will be issued. This includes a temporary account hold of three days.

Strike two

Continued violation will result in a second strike, which includes a temporary account hold of seven days.

Strike three

At the third strike, your account will be suspended, and you won’t be able to run ads or create new content. Strikes will remain on your account for 90 days unless you appeal.

google ads 3-strike policy - what the strikes mean

Image source

What to do if you get a strike

If you receive a warning or strike it’s important to make adjustments so your account is no longer in violation of Google’s policy and so you can avoid account suspension. Google will only implement a strike when the same policy is violated more than once, so you have plenty of opportunities to keep your account from getting the dreaded third strike.

You can appeal your strike at any point. Once successfully appealed, your account will begin running ads immediately.


How to protect and prepare your account for Google’s 3-strike system

Google is rolling out their new 3-strike system on September 21, 2021, and will be ramping it up over the following three months, so there’s time to prepare your account if you fall into the policies outlined.

1. Audit your ads and assets

If your business offers products or services that you feel might fall under the policies Google has included as part of its 3-strike system, then it’s important to get your account in good standing before September.

Remove any words and phrases, images, or verbiage that could be picked up by Google’s automated review system to avoid getting a warning, strike, or account suspension.

audit your google ads account to protect against google ads 3-strike system

Here’s an example of what isn’t permitted.

2. Get familiar with the appeal process

Google will allow you to appeal any strike or warning you receive, so it’s important to understand what that process looks like so you’ll be prepared.

This is a fairly simple process that requires you to log into your account, submit your appeal request, and include a reason for appealing. From there, you can keep tabs on your status within your account to see whether Google has approved your appeal. Once your appeal is successful, your ads will begin running immediately.

3. Run advertising on other channels

Google Ads are incredibly effective for small businesses, but it’s never smart to put all your eggs in one basket. Especially a basket as fickle as Google. Instead, Google Ads should be part of your marketing strategy—but not the whole enchilada.

Instead, run PPC ads across other search engines, like Bing, and incorporate other marketing channels including display advertising, social media marketing, and SEO so you can feel confident that your business will get found even in the unlikely chance of a Google Ads account suspension.

run multichannel marketing to complement ppc ads

Find out which marketing channels complement PPC ads here

4. Work with a trusted marketing partner

Working with a marketing partner that understands Google’s policies and can correctly implement and run your ads will save you the headache of having to worry about any strikes or warnings.

Plus, when you work with a marketing partner to run your Google Ads for you, they’ll be the ones to take care of any ad disapprovals or warnings and can make the necessary changes.

working with a marketing partner for ppc


Keep your small business safe from the Google Ads 3-strike policy

While this new policy from Google seems alarming, there are actionable steps you can take (if your business is even impacted!) to protect your account and keep your ads running smoothly. Follow our tips for Google Ads success in September and beyond, and reach out to one of our experts with any questions, concerns, or for help running Google ads.

PS: Did you know that LOCALiQ is a Google Premier Partner? Find out how this helps our customers!

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