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Who really makes the decision to suspend your AdWords account?

Whether you call it getting sandboxed or Google slapped, or whatever name is popular these days, the result is the same. Google has suspended your AdWords account and your PPC campaign is wrecked. You may have no idea what you did wrong, but someone at Google thinks you violated their policies. So, how do you reach out to them?

That’s easier said than done. Google does have a helpline for AdWords, but you’re not going to get the answers you need from that line. Here’s why:

The person you talk to on the phone does not make the final decision

Google has a team of people called editors (not the tool!) that decide whether or not a PPC campaign is violating AdWords policy. The people you reach at the helpline aren’t editors. They’re account representatives. Account representatives can tell you that your account has been suspended, but unless the editor left notes in your case file they can’t tell you why it happened.

What often ends up happening is that the account representative gives out a list of basic fixes. You implement those, and then you go around and around with the helpline trying to get your account reinstated. On Google’s side, once the account representative has heard you have implemented the changes the case goes back to an editor for another evaluation.

In short, the helpline can’t directly get you out of the sandbox.

You can’t talk to the editors

Maybe you know a Googler who knows a Googler and you think you can get direct access? It’s not going to happen. In extremely rare cases, an editor may call an account holder directly from an unlisted number. The usual way to communicate with an editor is through submitting forms. For instance, the disavow form for getting rid of bad backlinks goes to editors, though not necessarily the editor that suspended your account.

One strategy people try is calling the helpline multiple times to get different perspectives on the issue. Sometimes you can piece together enough information to discover the problem, but this is a bit of a long-shot.

If you have multiple errors, you’re in real trouble

From stories I’ve heard from people getting sandboxed, sometimes editors will stop evaluating an account once they reach the first error that merits the punishment. There may be more there, but with so many accounts to process it doesn’t make sense for Google to make a big list of all the problems with one account. They may not even leave detailed notes.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you get lucky and your editor left clear notes for the account representative. You fix the problem and ask for a re-evaluation. Nothing happens. After another callback, you find out there’s another problem they didn’t tell you the first time!

In worse cases, the editor didn’t leave clear notes. That leaves you running around and around with account representatives who will give the same usual mistakes, but not the actual one(s) that are causing the suspension. Not their fault, since they’re only working on information the editors give them, but while you’re running around your business is tanking.

How to overcome the problem

If you find your business account has been suspended, first call the helpline. They can definitely confirm whether or not it has been suspended. Ask politely if there are any editor notes on your case. It doesn’t hurt to find out what Google’s official reason is. Don’t take your frustrations out on the poor account representative, since now you know they’re not the ones in charge of your suspension. They’re just messengers.

Next, read through Google’s AdWords policies thoroughly and analyze your website. Are there other rules you could be breaking? Fix those first before trying to go through Google again. There’s a lot of information there on that page, and it also has an explanation of the review process. Once you’ve fixed everything, call the helpline again and ask for a reevaluation. Tell the account representative in brief yet clear detail of the items you’ve fixed so they can put it into your case file.

If that doesn’t get your account unsuspended in a few days, you may need to call in professional help. There are a number of organizations that work solely on getting businesses back into Google’s good graces. It may also be better to turn to professionals if you don’t have the technical background to understand all of the AdWords policies, or if you don’t have the time to fix the issues.

As long as you’re not doing something Google is completely opposed to, like using their network to sell counterfeit goods, you can get out of the sandbox. But you have to play by their rules, and that’s easier said than done. Try the advice in this article, instead of venting your frustrations to a helpline that has no direct power.