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I Received a "Dear John" Letter From Google

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Jadus

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I've been advertising with Google Shopping Ads for my eCommerce store since the beginning, nearly 4 years now. Yesterday I was shocked to receive a letter from Google saying they have suspended my ads for "Misrepresentation of self or product (Untrustworthy promotions)". I have no idea what they are talking about. My store (and advertising) hasn't changed, other than adding new products and an upgrade to a different theme.

I wrote back using their form and asked for clarification. I even sent them screenshots of emails I've received from customers giving praise for my store and superior customer service. Today I received a reply which sounded like an answer you would get from a politician. The only clarification they gave (if you can call it that) was to mention "low quality landing page experiences promoted through your website".

I wrote back once again and pointed out the fact that I receive multiple orders every day from those "low quality" landing pages. I told them it still wasn't sufficient information for me to take any action. I also told them that they were violating their own policy by giving their customer (me) a poor customer service experience.

I doubt that I will hear back from them, or if I do it probably won't solve anything. I wanted to share my experience here partially as a warning to not build your business relying on any one platform. Truth-be-told, I wasn't getting that much traffic from paid advertising but I was getting a lot from the free ads Google started giving during the pandemic. Thankfully, I can still advertise with Microsoft and social media.

The other reason I'm posting is to see if any of you who have eCommerce businesses have received a letter like that. I welcome any feedback that you may have.
 

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RazorCut

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OK from what I can gather it means copyright infringement. Are you mentioning a brand that you don't own?

If so remove them and ask Google for a review once done.

When asking you need to acknowledge that you made a mistake but not on purpose and that you’ll take measures to avoid it in the future by monitoring your listings closely. They may call you and one week later they’ll reactivate your account.
 

LHXS

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I feel for you.
I have a constant worry and nagging feeling about online business and about how much of my future I should hang on it. The 'platforms' have so much power and control and seem to use it with no regard for the businesses that helped them get to their positions. I've seen countless events such as Amazon slashing affiliate rates, affiliate businesses simply changing their terms and conditions and decimating businesses with no regard (sometimes at a few days notice), companies like Google just cutting you off with no human engagenent, just a pre-canned email response or web page, advertising rates double, ad commisions being totally opaque (with the Ts&Cs stating effectively "we will pay you a share that we want to, but reserve the right to change it whenever we like".

All I can think of is the advice I often see - make sure you have multiple streams of income, from multiple sources and never reply on one only. Diversify.
 

Jadus

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Are you mentioning a brand that you don't own?
I own none of the brands that I sell but I'm an authorized dealer for them all. That shouldn't matter. Walmart doesn't own Nike but I'm sure they're able to advertise them for sale.
 

RazorCut

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Walmart doesn't own Nike but I'm sure they're able to advertise them for sale.

Well you aren't Walmart it seems. Anyway I'm just relaying the information. What you do with it is your concern. You are welcome by the way.
 

MJ DeMarco

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If you post a link to your store, I guarantee we'd be able to figure out what the issue is, and the issue Google has.
 

Jadus

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If you post a link to your store, I guarantee we'd be able to figure out what the issue is, and the issue Google has.
Hi MJ. I appreciate the suggestion and I have no doubt that is true, but it has always been my policy to not link directly to my store in a business forum. Unfortunately, there are people who like to take shortcuts and just copy what someone else is doing.

I know you vet new members, but still... I just wouldn't feel comfortable doing that.
 

eTox

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Hi MJ. I appreciate the suggestion and I have no doubt that is true, but it has always been my policy to not link directly to my store in a business forum. Unfortunately, there are people who like to take shortcuts and just copy what someone else is doing.

I know you vet new members, but still... I just wouldn't feel comfortable doing that.
Send it to MJ or someone you can trust.
 

RazorCut

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Thank you for your response. I'm sorry I didn't say that to begin with. I'm kind of in an "all business" mood right now.

No problem, it was tongue in cheek, I didn't take it personally as I know what those sorts of frustrations are like. You are welcome to hit me up privately if you like or post to one of the Admins (though I think you can't PM @MJ DeMarco or @Vigilante.

Hope you get it sorted.
 

Jadus

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Update. Shout out to RazorCut who gave me some advice in a PM. I also received some good info from Simprosys who provides my product feed for Google Product Listing Ads. They're a great company with SUCS. Most importantly, I went through Google's documentation with a fine tooth comb and noted anything on my site, feed and Merchant Center settings that could be construed as a violation of their policies.

I made quite a few changes and it took a lot of work. In a way, it was kind of a good thing getting this suspension because it forced me to take another look at what I'm doing and clean up a lot of things that needed to be. Not that I was doing anything blatantly wrong, but customers should have a better overall experience now. And I'll continue to make improvements.

Ironically, I received an invitation from Think With Google to get a review of my website. Thinking this may give me some insight into whatever Google thought was wrong, I accepted. This is the result I got:

34623
So, not perfect but not so bad as to have my ad account suspended, one would think. This leads me to believe that Google is a bit of a schizophrenic company, or at least one hand doesn't know what the other is doing.

Anyways, I've requested another review of my account with Google Ads and let's see what happens. I'll post another update here, either good or bad news.
 

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Jadus

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Final update. My request for another review came back quite fast. My account is now off suspension, so I must have done something they liked.

Moral of the story; getting a Google account suspended for no apparent reason can be very upsetting, but if you work through it, ask for help and improve your website and advertising the best you can, it is possible to get back into their good-graces.

I'm continuing to make improvements to my store, not only to ward off any more suspensions but more importantly, to improve the overall customer experience.

I'm still not seeing the same numbers that I had pre-suspension but that could be the current economic realities kicking in. Nevertheless, I'll keep on keepin' on, slowly edging over to the fastlane as best I can.
 

dica

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Hey, I got the same suspension on my and my business partner merchant accounts. We did some changes but nothing helped. My friends even created new merchant accounts for new webshop with all new info (phone, address etc) which is not related to my previous merchant acc and my webshops but it gets suspended immediately. It is going on for a month already.

Would you please share some tips how did you manage to get your account approved again? Thanks!
 

Jadus

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Hey, I got the same suspension on my and my business partner merchant accounts. We did some changes but nothing helped. My friends even created new merchant accounts for new webshop with all new info (phone, address etc) which is not related to my previous merchant acc and my webshops but it gets suspended immediately. It is going on for a month already.

Would you please share some tips how did you manage to get your account approved again? Thanks!
Google is a master at data collection and tracking, so they may have been able to associate your new accounts with the old, even though you used new information. Are you selling something in a gray area? If it has anything to do with drugs, weapons, sex or anything like that, you may not be able to recover at all.

Even if you're selling something completely unrelated to those things, Google's AI can classify some products as such. You need to point out the mistake in any communications with them. When you have an active Merchant Center account, you need to keep an eye on it and ask for a manual review of anything this is incorrectly flagged.

If nothing above applies, I'd do everything possible to clean up your website and then ask for another review on your original account. Go through Google's TOS with a fine-toothed comb and change anything that could remotely be violating it. Make sure you have all the required things on your website, i.e. complete contact information, privacy policy, shipping and returns policy, etc..

Good luck.
 

Fr33zerPop

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Google is a master at data collection and tracking, so they may have been able to associate your new accounts with the old, even though you used new information. Are you selling something in a gray area? If it has anything to do with drugs, weapons, sex or anything like that, you may not be able to recover at all.

Even if you're selling something completely unrelated to those things, Google's AI can classify some products as such. You need to point out the mistake in any communications with them. When you have an active Merchant Center account, you need to keep an eye on it and ask for a manual review of anything this is incorrectly flagged.

If nothing above applies, I'd do everything possible to clean up your website and then ask for another review on your original account. Go through Google's TOS with a fine-toothed comb and change anything that could remotely be violating it. Make sure you have all the required things on your website, i.e. complete contact information, privacy policy, shipping and returns policy, etc..

Good luck.
Do you have any indication of a major element of your site that was the largest violating factor? It must be very frustrating to feel like you're working in the dark and can't specifically address known "violations. "
 

Jadus

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Do you have any indication of a major element of your site that was the largest violating factor? It must be very frustrating to feel like you're working in the dark and can't specifically address known "violations. "
No, I can't pinpoint any one thing that would have caused them concern. I just fixed a lot of little things, most of which you wouldn't even think would be a problem. It was very frustrating not knowing exactly what they had a problem with.
 

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