If you’re a private investigator that’s using Google AdWords to attract leads, there is a very high chance that you’ve been hit with disapproved ads for enabling dishonest behavior. Most of our clients were hit with similar advertisements – not all, but most.
Google is not the best at clarifying information for us. We even contacted our Google Representative, and they couldn’t help us. They basically said – “it’s against the policy, please fix it and get back to us when it’s fixed.” Unfortunately, they weren’t explaining what part of our advertisement, landing page, or account was violating the policy.
Eventually, we had to resort to trial and error. For an entire month, we tried different combinations of keywords, words, advertisement descriptors, headings, landing pages, photos, etc. and – after close to 100 different landing page combinations, headings, and descriptions – we figured it out.
Here is what Google says “Enabling Dishonest Behavior” means: Enabling Dishonest Behavior
Products or services that help users to mislead others
Examples: Creation of fake or false documents such as passports or diplomas; aids to pass drug tests; paper-writing or exam-taking services; selling falsified user activity in the form of invalid clicks, reviews, or social media endorsements.
Products or services that enable a user to gain unauthorized access (or make unauthorized changes) to systems, devices, or property
Examples: Hacking services, stealing cable, radar jammers, changing traffic signals, phone or wire-tapping.
Private investigator’s are not doing either one of those things, right? Well… yes and no.
We have to understand that Google is not manually disapproving all these ads. They don’t have people searching and shutting down pages. They have a bot that scrapes their system and identifies websites that promote several “illicit” services – the main ones are services that help promote or offer ways to violate a person’s privacy.
What do private investigators do?
I think I’m having a private moment with my girlfriend in the back seat of the car, and here is a private investigator half a block away sending photos to my wife.
I think I’m covering my tracks by erasing phone numbers and text messages, and here is a private investigator retrieving erased text messages to hand over to my wife.
The solution? We need to find better ways to describe what we do. Private investigator services are legitimate, we are regulated by state agencies, but Google is a private company, and we have to play by their rules.
Here is what Google doesn’t like:
- Services / websites that assist in infidelity – remember the Ashley Madison fiasco?
- Services / websites that are going to promote child endangerment or trafficking.
- Services / websites that advertise sex-for-hire services, etc.
- Services / websites to help violate a person’s privacy (hacking, tracking, stalking, etc.)
There are a TON of other things that we don’t have the time to talk about on this post. But here is the main issue – private investigator websites have every single one of the keywords Google bots are looking for to “trigger” a disapproved advertisement.
Just look at this paragraph that we found on a private investigator’s website:
No one wants to hear these words – Cheating, affair, affairs, infidelity, adultery, cheating spouse, cheating husband, extramarital, cheaters, love affair, cheating boyfriend, cheating girlfriend, bigamy, polygamy, multiple boyfriends, multiple girlfriends. Our Private Investigators will stop the pain, fear, anxiety, stress and find the truth!
The owners of this company, more than likely, wrote the paragraph for SEO purposes. What they have, instead, is a page full of keywords that Google is trying to shut down.
You and I may see a page that talks about a service that STOPS affairs, a computer program just saw: Cheating, affair, affairs, infidelity, adultery…. Etc.
If you really look at the paragraph, the paragraph doesn’t “add” value to the page. Which is another big problem for Google. Your landing pages, and your advertisement, need to make sense. The advertising policy that often hurts private investigators the most, is Editorial content. Google says:
In order to provide a quality user experience, Google requires that all ads, extensions, and destinations meet high professional and editorial standards. We only allow ads that are clear, professional in appearance, and that lead users to content that is relevant, useful, and easy to interact with – Editorial Rules.
That’s all I’m going to say about Editorial Rules – make sure that your landing page and advertisements read well. We can easily get sidetracked by focusing on all the other ad policies that investigators often violate, but we’re going to keep it to Dishonest behaviors on this article.
Here are five things that we can give you, so you have a starting point to fix this issue:
- Your Google Ad’s heading, unfortunately, needs to be generic – We can’t use words like Cheating Spouses, Matrimonial Investigations, Cheating Spouse Investigations, Expert, Etc. Keep it simple, straight, and to the point: “Dallas Private Investigator | 10 Years of Experience”
- Your landing page can not contain the keywords listed above (Cheating, Affairs, Extramarital, Abuse, etc.) You’re going to have to get creative with your wording, and you’ll need to spend some time writing professional copy on the landing pages.
- Your landing page needs to do all the work – don’t link out to all your inner pages.
- Your landing page needs to educate your consumers, be professionally written, and is easy to interact with. Don’t hide links, trick users into pushing buttons, etc.
- Your advertisement and landing page need to contain similar / the same content.
We have to change, pivot, and adapt.
Here are two arguments that we’ve heard from a few of our clients over and over again.
We’ve been using the same advertisement for 5 years, why are they targeting us now?
It doesn’t matter that you’ve had ads running for 5+ years, and suddenly Google hit your account, what matters is that Google changed, and we have to pivot and adapt.
My competitors are doing it, why am I the only one getting hit with this?
You are most definitely not the only one getting hit with this, and It doesn’t matter that your competitors are using those keywords. Just because some of your competitors are getting away with it, it doesn’t mean it’s right. Again, you got hit, and we have to pivot and adapt.
There are several private investigators out there offering some – borderline illegal – services. GPS Tracking in Florida, Cellphone Pinging, Email Hacking, Etc. Google is trying to shut those down. Some private investigators are using words that trigger automatic disapproval, others are straight up violating the rules.
In summary, if you’ve been hit with a disproved ads campaign, it’s not the end of the world – it can be fixed. Tone back the private investigator element, and focus on offering your clients an honest service that focuses on solving their problems. Don’t use words like “Our cheating spouse private investigators are experts at uncovering affairs and infidelity. We guarantee results.” Instead, use full descriptor sentences like “If you are having marital issues, and suspect your spouse is having an affair, you may feel confused and concerned about your family’s future. Our private investigators can work with you to gather the evidence you need to protect you and your children’s best interests.”
I hope this helps. If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to reach out to us.