Legal Marketing 101

Google Ads Policies: Ep. 2: Advertising Policies

February 26, 2024 Rosen Advertising Season 3 Episode 6
Legal Marketing 101
Google Ads Policies: Ep. 2: Advertising Policies
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Navigating Google Ads Policies

Join our host, Toby Rosen, as we dissect the fine line where state bar regulations intersect with Google's stringent guidelines, and I reveal the crucial differences among prohibited, restricted, and editorial content. My breakdown includes real-world examples and a candid discussion on Google's verification hurdles, all aimed at ensuring your legal services ads are not only compliant but also crafted with the highest standard of integrity.

From this episode:
Google Ads Policies

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Speaker 1:

Welcome to Legal Marketing 101. I'm Toby Rosen and welcome back to our series on Google Ads policies, where we are talking about navigating advertising policies. Today we are talking about what is in the policies. We are going to talk about the restrictions on legal services advertising specifically, and we're going to go through a few examples of prohibited content and prohibited practices when it comes to Google Ads. And if you've listened to the first episode of this series, you understand that Google Ads is.

Speaker 1:

Advertising policies really represent the cornerstone of general regulatory guidelines that govern the promotion of goods and services across not only Google, but it sort of trickles down into the rest of internet advertising. And a really comprehensive understanding of these policies is going to end up being paramount to creating effective and compliant advertising strategies. And because these policies encompass a really diverse range of standards and restrictions that are like we said I don't want to get into the politics of it they're, let's say they're aimed at maintaining a safe, transparent and user friendly advertising environment. So these policies govern pretty much everything when that that means it comes to ad content, targeting criteria, user experience, even what content you can have on your website, and all of that feeds into Google's ecosystem. So they have this vested interest in upholding that integrity. And in the context of legal advertising Google Ads is advertising policies impose some relatively specific requirements and limitations that are sort of tailored to the unique characteristics of the legal industry and legal clients, and these requirements do include things like guidelines on the promotion of legal services, restrictions on particular types of content and what we can say about users in those pieces of content, and then there are a bunch of obligations related to the practices we use for for advertising. So this is beyond all of the stuff we have to be aware of for just advertising on the Google Ads platform. There's a bunch of specific stuff for legal services businesses like ourselves that we have to be aware of. So we're going to dive into all of these policies, we're going to get into the complexities of it and hopefully we'll equip you with the knowledge you need to navigate this landscape effectively and, hopefully, responsibly. So let's dive right in.

Speaker 1:

Some of the key restrictions on legal services are things like prohibitions on misleading or false representations and limitations on, let's say, claims of expertise or specialization and guidelines for the responsible handling of sensitive legal topics, and if that sounds like your state's bar rules, that's because those restrictions are really the ones we need to look at first. So, before you even jump into Google Ads, you need to be looking at what your state says about not only advertising but online advertising, if they've addressed it specifically. Some states have, some states haven't. Some states do a really good job of having, you know, flexible limitations. Some have some really odd compliance restrictions that are just something we have to deal with and that can be frustrating, but it's where we have to start. So not only do we have to adhere to these jurisdiction specific regulations that are, you know, relevant in our respective regions, but we also need to look at the restrictions on content and on practices for lawyers with Google. So let's get into the Google part of that as well, because you should have the bar stuff down.

Speaker 1:

So, before I go ahead and list off the specifics, you should understand that there are really three types of restrictions that you can have on content, and the one we're all really worried about, obviously, is prohibited content. That's content that you can't advertise on the Google network at all and, a lot of the time, you can't run it through organic. It's just bad stuff. So prohibited content is the really bad big red X on it kind of content. We're going to go through what that is in a moment. For most lawyers, that should be relatively easy to avoid.

Speaker 1:

Then there's restricted content, and this content is content that you can advertise, but there are limitations on that. Where you can run this content, there are limitations on what you can use next to particular types of content, what you can and can't say, and sometimes you'll have to go through a review process for this. So it can be a little bit annoying to go through that appeals process. But this type of content is possible and we'll go through some examples in a second. It is possible to run on Google, but there are some challenges and, like Google says, there are some limitations. And then we have editorial and technical content, and this really means that it's more like restricted content, but it's just at a level where Google has particular quality standards for it. So you're going to have to go through a review process and you're probably going to have to do some kind of extra verification with Google, which may speed up that review process.

Speaker 1:

But this kind of content is not really something most legal advertisers need to be worried about. Even though we are talking about editorial and technical, we don't need to worry about this too much. We generally are going to fall into just completely allowed content or we'll fall into restricted content. So let's look at a couple of examples of what restricted content is, and I'll run through a list here and you can access the Google ads policies. I'll put a link to this in the show notes. You can access these policies and see the detail on this. There's some of it that we just don't really need to get into because that's not really where we're going to be. Um, and some of it is things I think you'll be able to sort of figure out where they're going with this.

Speaker 1:

So, at the very top of this list, uh, sexual content, and there are limitations on that, but there are also things that are allowed. So if you're interested in advertising that type of content, you should take a look. Uh, alcohol is at the top of the list Copyrighted items that you don't have. The copyright for gambling and gaming is restricted. Uh, healthcare and medicines prohibited. Political content is generally prohibited unless it is going through a particular uh verification process, and they also have something here about, uh, election silence periods.

Speaker 1:

So there are a bunch of caveats to a lot of these policies, and the other reality of this is Google is just a company, so they can make these very broad. There is no legal standard for this and they don't really have to do anything if they don't want to, so they're kind of able to do what they want. But we're also talking about financial services, trademarks, uh, other restricted businesses. There's a whole long list here of other restrictions. And then there are restrictions on uh content that's made for kids, which is a big one, both on YouTube and really across all Google policies. But we have a whole list here of different types of content that are either prohibited.

Speaker 1:

You know, prohibited definitely includes a lot of other things like dangerous products, dishonest behavior, inappropriate content, which is pretty wide. I mean the list here includes graphic crime scene or accident images, cruelty to animals, murder, self harm, extortion or blackmail, sale or trade of endangered species, which I guess you could run Google ads for. Somebody probably has tried to do that. But these examples in the list they're not the exhaustive list of what you can and can't do. That's the big thing to remember with Google ads policies is that, while there is a list of things, they can create whatever it is they want, as it happens they can say, oh, this isn't allowed because our reviewers I almost said sensors are reviewers are not agreeing with what it is you're saying here. So Google has completely a way to do whatever it is they want there, and while they do have a lot of policies like preventing keyword stuffing or preventing cloaking or particularly deceptive ad placements yes, these are all really bad things in the world of internet advertising and with Google, they can lead to pretty severe penalties. So that is something that is actually a good part of the policy, but in a lot of cases it is subject to some elements of human review, and usually that human review is triggered by a not so smart filter.

Speaker 1:

So before I get into editorializing too much, let's talk a little bit about some tips for staying compliant with your ads and with your practices on Google and some of the big things that lawyers can avoid to make sure that their ads stay live. And, frankly, this is sort of the easiest section of the show, because the way you can really do this kind of thing is just by following the best practices for Google and a lot of those best practices. While I'm definitely bashing Google a bunch in this episode, the best practices are generally aligned with what it is we want to be doing as advertisers, and you can leverage all of this stuff through creating these compelling ad campaigns. That ultimately serves everyone's goal giving users good content, you creating new clients and Google getting your money for placing those advertisements. So, like I've said a couple of times in a couple of episodes, we're we do want to be aligned with Google and we want them to align with us, and there should be a middle ground there. It doesn't always sort of materialize for us in the way we want it to, but it can be there.

Speaker 1:

So, first off, we want to make sure that our ads are really clear, accurate and relevant to the queries and to the intent of the searcher. So, specifically, we want to avoid exaggerated claims or misleading statements. This is something that is going to destroy trust with prospective clients and we want to be reinforcing the firm's credibility, not only within the legal industry but immediately on the page. So, for instance, if we're talking about the number of active cases, we can be highly specific. If we have 124 active cases, we don't necessarily have to say 100 plus, especially if our nearest competitors are also using 100 or 200 or 500 plus. We could say 124 active cases and we could update that once a week. It might be a little bit more work, but that kind of specificity stands out on a landing page and it's still compliant because it is very accurate.

Speaker 1:

Second, one of the things you can do and you should be doing in your ads anyways is incorporating relevant keywords and things like dynamic keyword insertion into your actual ad text. Doing this helps optimize your ad copy, because Google really likes that and users really like to see it bolded in the ad when they actually click on something and you know it's right there, it stands out to them. So this is a really good tactic generally. But the great thing about this when it comes to compliance is if this isn't a loud keyword, then it's probably also an allowed ad text. So we can make sure that if it's something that Google is allowing us to run ads on, we can just insert that keyword and we shouldn't have a problem.

Speaker 1:

But at the end of the day, what really helps here is monitoring your ads account. The biggest thing we can do to avoid policy issues is make sure we have our notifications on and make sure we're actively checking in with the ads. If we understand how the ads work and we understand what's doing well and what isn't. Optimization is going to help us continue to grow our account and really, when we're optimizing, we are going to be testing the limits of policy. Every now and then you are going to get a disapproved ad. It's not something you should freak out about. It's something you should embrace and figure out where the limits are. What is it that you can and can't say, what is it that you can and can't claim in your advertising, and how can you push this to the limit? But just working in your account kind of isn't enough.

Speaker 1:

One of the other things you really need to be doing is staying up to date on any changes to Google ads policies, and fortunately there aren't a ton of these. There are some, but there are not like a policy change every day, like there is, with an update on your phone so you can stay subscribed to Google ads's blog. I'll put the link for that as well in the show notes, because regularly reviewing these policy guidelines and understanding where the industry is going is going to help you adapt your advertising strategies and really mitigate risk of policy violations. It's not that policy violations are the end of the world, especially for us in the legal world, where we're mostly worried about having our remarketing lists taken down because we're running for family law. Those kinds of things are annoying, but they're not really the end of a business, and what we're really trying to avoid with a lot of this is the end of a business, and usually Google ads is not going to bring about the end of a business for most of us. But if you have multiple policy strikes or an increasing number of ad disapprovals, this is going to make your record with Google a little bit messier and it's going to make things a little bit more difficult when you go through reviews and it's going to make addressing compliance issues much more difficult to do before they actually escalate. You're probably going to have to go through more steps and waste more time If you have this happening often.

Speaker 1:

So maintaining that clean advertising records and preserving that trust with Google that is actually something that is is not just a an obligation for for us in a regulatory sense, but this is really a strategic imperative, not only for firms but for legal advertisers generally. Even if you're not working for a firm specifically, this is really important for your clients as well. If we prioritize transparency and integrity and user trust and user experience in all of our advertising the lawyers that we're talking about here, which is you, and the small law firms we're talking about here, which is you you can build sustainable, long term relationships with clients and help uphold your reputation, not just for yourself, but for the entire legal profession. You know, we. I think we are able to change things at some point, and maybe the digital age is what'll get us off of ambulance chaser comments on Facebook. Who knows? But I can always hope. Anyways, that's it for legal marketing 101. Check out rosanadvertisingcom for more Thanks.

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