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Banned from Adsense, Did nothing wrong. What to do?

     
6:14 am on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Hi all,

I'm new here, so please be gentle. I'm just after a bit of wise advice. :)

I started my first site at the beginning of last year. I built it up with original content and a lot of time consuming work. I made the website because it was something I was interested in and enjoyed doing. Soon I realised that I could have my server fees paid if I put ads on the site.

After I started to get a little traffic I applied and was approved for Adsense. Everything was going fine with traffic increasing steadily until June last year when I got a sudden spike in traffic from Google search.

Checking my Adsense dashboard it suggested that my most visited page was slow, and to improve site performance. So I did. BTW. I'm using wordpress.

I installed a caching plugin in mid July and started using cloudflare. I must say at that point in time I was getting up to 200 times as many visitors as I normally did, and about 99.5% of them were from Google. By early August the traffic had dropped slightly, then bam. I woke one morning to find my account was disabled.

I immediately appealed, as I had a huge day approaching, and quickly went to the Adsense forum and searched as much as I could for a solution, but due to other circumstances of the day my mind was elsewhere.

I think I found the problem with the help of the Adsense forum. It appears as though the problem was that mod_cloudflare wasn't installed. And it couldn't be either with my shared hosting. After several emails I was finally told about a plugin to restore origin visitors ip, but it was too late. My appeal was rejected.

I filed a couple more appeals off, and they were promptly rejected within 10 minutes of the following hour. In frustration I approached my local MP, Minister of Fair Trading, and also his department. Surprisingly, Google initially failed to even respond to the government department. After 2 months they did respond and affirmed their initial response. That has left me with two options.

The department, and another federal department also have advised me to take them to a tribunal where a legally enforceable judgement can be handed down. I was advised that certain parts of the contracts may be created in such a way that they may be determined to be unfair, and unenforceable by law. The thing is, I don't want to make an enemy of someone I want to do business with.

I really don't care about the money I had already earned, I care about future potential as the visitors to my site have grown significantly since August. I now get in a day what I was getting in a week or two.

PS. I have ads from other networks and have had no problems at all.

What should I do? Give up and move on, create a business account with my business name, tax id and so on, or go to the tribunal?
12:01 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I was advised that certain parts of the contracts may be created in such a way that they may be determined to be unfair, and unenforceable by law


Forget it! Move on as best as you can unless you have several personal lawyers on your payroll. Even then, chances are you will end up lighter by a couple of million without any gain.
12:23 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Depends on how tribunal costs are handled in your jurisdiction. From your terminology I would guess that you are in an English speaking country but not USA or UK.
12:50 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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First off, you very likely did do something wrong. If Google was contacted by a government employee and confirmed that you were kicked out for a reason then it's highly likely you broke their terms of service. You very likely did do something wrong. Rarely is someone banned without doing something wrong. So the first thing you must do is figure that out. There are things publishers do that sound great at the kitchen table that are actually spammy. Nothing to be ashamed of, some of the top in-house SEOs for Fortune 500 companies started out as spammers. Nevertheless it's important to first understand why you were banned.

- Read the AdSense Terms of Service. Seriously, read it.
https://www.google.com/adsense/localized-terms

- Where were you obtaining your traffic?

- What kind of site promotion were you involved with.

Here are some posts that have good information about getting reinstated. But they are absolutely useless to you until you first get to the bottom of why you were banned.

I've been Reinstated
[webmasterworld.com...]

HELP - I"ve been banned from AdSense
[webmasterworld.com...]

What to Do When You are Kicked Out of Adsense
A tutorial on your recourse when booted from AdSense.
[webmasterworld.com...]

Good luck!

mb
12:52 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Australia

Tribunal costs are only $38. It's specifically a lawyer free affair, although I would assume they would send a paralegal at least.

When I contacted 2 government departments (ACCC and Fair Trading), one state and the other federal, they both gave advice about unfair contract laws without me asking (both departments only act as a mediator and can not force either party into a legally binding arrangement, but a tribunal can). A contract can be regarded as unfair if it is a standard form contract, it would cause a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract, and it is not reasonably necessary in order to protect the legitimate interests of the party who would be advantaged by the term, and it would cause detriment (whether financial or otherwise) to a party if it were to be applied or relied on. If any term of a contract is considered to be unfair the tribunal will rule as if the term was never present.

No doubt if the decision was in my favour they would probably appeal. At that point I would withdraw because I don't have the cash to splash around. But if they didn't appeal I could potentially get my account back with earnings for only $38, and I can even request that they pay the $38 fee if I'm successful.

I've gone 7 months without them and I'm now earning a week what I was in 2 months with Adsense, but then again the traffic has surged since I was disabled.

I guess the most I have to risk is $38 for a huge potential gain. It's just a sucky way to get back in.
1:02 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The minute you say "lawyer" or in your case, "tribunal" then the whole matter gets shunted over to their legal department, and you lose almost all possibility of ever talking to a non-legal Google person again. Ever. They won't be *allowed* to talk to you.

You might win your case, but they have oceans of lawyers to deal with compliance with laws in every country, and I doubt it would be as easy as you seem to think. I don't know about Australian law, but most places they aren't *required* to do business with you.

If it were I, then I would probably spend time and money to find an expert to go over my site to make sure it's within TOS, and THEN hit up AdSense to be let back in.

I've been in AdSense for almost ten years, and I've played around with Cloudflare, although only for a few months, and I've never heard of anyone being banned for not having it configured properly. I suspect there's something else going on.
1:10 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks martinibuster, I'll check them out. I have 2 years in which to lodge a claim at the tribunal.

I know where most of my traffic was coming from. Nearly all was from Google. Some was from Facebook and Twitter, but only a tiny bit, I'm talking less than a couple of dozen page views a day max. That was the only spamming I did, and it was to my own accounts. Basically it was just new posts sent to the 2 social networks.

The only thing I can think of was that because Cloudflare acts as a reverse proxy, and all of the ip's appear to be coming from the same ip ranges, it would look like click fraud. I had it running for about 2 or so weeks thinking everything was running smoothly. But I didn't know about fixing the ip issue. It would have looked as though all of the clicks just started coming from the same location.

After I was kicked out I noticed another publisher in the Adsense forum who had been in Adsense for 8 years had an almost identical scenario to me. He tried optimising the site speed, and one day had baidu.com appear as a site to authorise in his dashboard just before disabling. I had Google.com.gr to authorise in my dashboard just before disabling. I left it thinking it was a mistake and they will remove it soon. They did remove it by removing me.

Thanks for the links, I will check them out.
1:23 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Thanks netmeg.

The disabling was for invalid activity, so there's no problem with content. I was always very careful where I placed ads. If there was ever the slightest bit of doubt in my mind I didn't place ads on the post. I never clicked my own ads or asked others to. No drop down menu's over ads or deceptive techniques. I took it seriously.

The click through rate was less than 1 percent for memory, and remained that way right up until I was disabled.

The advice I was given was that the tribunal could rule my account could be reinstated or paid what I was owed. I'd still prefer not to go down that path. There's something icky about using the legal route.

I haven't had a chance to look at martinibuster's links yet. I'll do it in the morning. It's after midnight here. I was under the impression that after a failed appeal that's it and they don't want to have anything to do with you anymore. So is it really possible to get in touch with a flesh and blood human and get back in the game?
2:53 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It doesn't happen often, but it's been known to happen. You can try flagging someone's attention in the Google AdSense forum, or on Google+. If you have the reach, you can write a blog post. If you know someone who knows someone, you can ask them to vouch for you. The key seems to be to keep away from legal threats (like I said - right to the legal dept) and to stay polite and business-like. Own up to the issue. (I'm still not convinced about the Cloudflare thing because I've heard thousands of "banned" stories and none of them had Cloudflare in them, along with my own experience with Cloudflare, but if you say so)

I wouldn't get my hopes up too high, but it may be worth a try.
4:08 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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First of all you need to find out what "exactly" you were doing that violated Google's Terms of Service and fix that.

Google is good and bad at communicating, so you might have to repeat a request or two before you get the answer as to what was wrong exactly.

Personally, I would do the following:
1. Move site to better server that will serve up pages quicker to improve user experience.
2. Apply to other advertising networks, but I'm not sure what's available for Australia. Or you can sell direct ads.
3. Figure out what Google didn't like, fix it and reapply.

As far as Google is concerned, you are an independent contractor, as is stated in your contract with them. Now, ask yourself if you would do business with someone who had made legal threats against you? You wouldn't, and for good reason.

The issue has nothing to do with fair trade, particularly since they apply the same rules to everyone.

There are other advertising options out there.
4:25 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I've been in AdSense for almost ten years, and I've played around with Cloudflare, although only for a few months, and I've never heard of anyone being banned for not having it configured properly. I suspect there's something else going on.


[webmasterworld.com...]
5:55 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The minute you say "lawyer" or in your case, "tribunal" then the whole matter gets shunted over to their legal department,

True of just about any organisation. It never pays to involve lawyers too early in a dispute.
6:00 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I forgot about that previous discussion regarding CloudFlare, but it doesn't look like it was ever confirmed to be a CloudFlare issue, and the CloudFlare guy mentioned RocketLoader. So... still unconvinced, but willing to look at more information if it comes available.

A lot of people use CloudFlare, I just think I'd have heard if there was a huge AdSense issue there.
6:22 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I installed a caching plugin in mid July and started using cloudflare. I must say at that point in time I was getting up to 200 times as many visitors as I normally did



What did you think was causing 200X the visitors?
8:26 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Could you be a victim of click-bombing? But since the ban happened last year, I'm not sure if the Clickbombing that is going on now is related to that.

Google uses a robot that detects invalid activity. If you have very Low page views, which is the case, you are more vulnerable for little anomalies. Also, google is more forgiving for publishers who've been around for many years. And since you've only been in the program for 1 year, theyre more stricter.
9:39 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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The 200x extra visitors was directly from Google. 200x may have been an exaggeration, but the site visitors went from about 200 a day to 10,000 a day for about 2 month before dropping back to a steady 1,500 a day. Since then its been a steady increase to about 7,00 a day. It was all directed to a single post, so the bounce rate increased for the same period. It was when I started getting the increase in visitors that I started to try and speed things up.

I know any peaks in visitors can seem suspicious to Google, but Google sent them. And no there's been no seo work done besides a yoast seo plugin. I wasn't even sure if using a plugin for seo was permitted and was worried about using one.

I doubt it would be click bombing. The rate didn't increase at all, although I was earning more because of the extra visitors.

I just read the link that levo added. The first to suggest that it may have been Cloudflare was Cloudflare. After the appeal and Adsense forum I decided to contact my host, wordpress support forum and Cloudflare. The host gave me log files, wordpress support said the caching plugin wouldn't have been the problem. It was only Cloudflare that offered any suggestion to the problem. They said "that's why we suggest installing Mod_cloudflare." Unfortunately it couldn't be installed on the shared hosting. It took several more emails before I was pointed to the plugin.

When I initially mentioned Cloudflare in the Adsense forum most people said it wouldn't be that. But once I said what Cloudflare had said to me a lot began to wonder aloud if it was the problem. I'm looking at it with the view that there was a sudden increase in visitors, and all of a sudden all of the clicks were geographically centralised. That would explain the invalid clicks that I experienced and those in the link that levo posted.

I have been approved for 6 other ad networks, so I'm using the highest paying one at the moment and have 5 other backups. I've moved to a VPS, so things seem so much better all round for the site since moving. So much more control, and much faster, especially with SSD.

Basically the 2 departments are suggesting the legal course. If I was certain it was the best way to go I wouldn't be here asking for advice. Yes, if I was taken to court by someone I wouldn't want to do business with them either, hence my trepidation.

I've been doing OK without Adsense, but I know I could do better with Adsense. It p****s me off when others knowingly breach the rules and get away with it for years and I honestly didn't do anything on my part to upset Google. But alas, I did manage to upset them.

If I did manage to find a solution satisfactory to Googles requirements, how would I apply to get my personal account back? Or would it be better to create a business account?

[edited by: martinibuster at 2:28 am (utc) on Mar 15, 2014]
[edit reason] TOS & Charter. [/edit]

9:58 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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From 200 pv a day to 10k for the duration of two months is highly suspicious. How could that happen? That couldn't possibly all come from google traffic. That usually only happens when there's breaking news that's directed to your site but that high traffic should not last for 2 months, a few days is more believable. I think something was inflating your traffic. Was some big site other than google linking to your site?

7,00 a day, is that a typo? What's your daily traffic now?
10:34 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Daily traffic is 7,000 a day. Not spectacular I know, but I have to start somewhere. More importantly is that it's improving with time.

Believe it or not, but it all came from Google. The one post is still responsible for about 25% of the search impressions in my Google Webmaster Tools. At one point it was responsible for 95% of search impressions. Even though it has since dropped from position 1 to below position 5 it is still usually in my top 10 visited posts.

From my memory the way things panned out was like this. I think it was May that I had a surge for the post, but it lasted about 2 days. Not a huge amount of traffic came my way, but the search impressions went through the roof. Things went back to normal until I had the sustained interest from late June. When I say 10,000 that's the average. Some days it would be more, others it would be less. After 2 months it eased.

I don't know if Google changed some algorithm, or if there were external factors impacting the search results, but I do specifically recall one of my wife's friends posting on Facebook to search the term on Google. That was just after I was disabled.

It's possible a site such as Reddit could have been linking to a search result page, and I got residual traffic from that. But at that point nearly all traffic came from Google. I have had a few days since where Reddit has hit me hard. The last one killed the site, but I never had anything substantial other than Google up until recently.
11:34 pm on Mar 14, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Ok, we could eliminate cloudfare as the culprit. It could either be the unusually high spike of traffic or family member and friends helping you clicking your ads. Letting your family and friends know about your site is a big no no. Some may try to help, or worst some may get jealous of you and sabotage your site: [adsense.blogspot.ca...]
4:10 am on Mar 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I thought of family. In the house we have ad block on the browsers, so not us or the kids. My brother really couldn't care less about my site, he's too busy chasing girls. My sister doesn't even know the website url. My parents live in the stone age, so probably not them.

I really haven't done any self promotion of my site to family or friends, let alone tell them that I can make money from ads. Social network followers did cross my mind. I thought maybe I had an over zealous follower who was trying to help me, but as I said the click through rate has always been very low. Aside from that, I only had about 900 facebook fans and about 2000 twitter followers at that time.

I do have a few former friends that certainly would go as far as trying to sabotage me. But as far as I know they don't know about my site at all.

I'm obviously reluctant to pursue Google in any legal way. The way I see it at the moment is that the bridge I need to cross is in bad need of repair. I can either try and fix it and hope that I can cross it, or I can throw a match on it and let it burn. But before I do that I need to figure out how to fix it, and then communicate to G on the other side that I have a workable solution.

I'm not an idiot and I understand why Google take such draconian measures. I know a lot of people do take advantage of easy money, even if it's only a few cents. I prefer to look at the bigger picture. I've been accused of stealing a tomato at work in the past. As if I would risk a $60,000 a year job for a tomato worth a handful of cents. One could argue account suspensions would have a similar impact as permanent disabling. I'm sure most people are either unaware they are breaking the rules, someone else did something that they didn't prevent, or they are oblivious to what happened to get the account disabled. A 6 or 12 month suspension would allow that person to remain in the network, but also learn a valuable lesson. But heck, It's not my business, and unless I buy shares in GOOG I have no right to ask them to change the way they do business.

I have been tempted to open a business account. I do have one other site that gets a few hundred visits a day. It was never associated with my personal Adsense and is under a different Google account and even a different host. It's an online store for my business, so it has all of the relevant details to qualify for a business account, except it has the same residential address. Is it worthwhile doing that, and later place ads on the main site, or will it eventually get disabled too?
4:35 am on Mar 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yes, you can open a business account but i would not advice you placing Adsense on your main site until you figure out the problem.

One thing I find suspicious is your sudden rise of traffic. I just find it impossible to get that much page views for a less-than-a-year-old site unless some big shot site is linking to you. You mentioned Reddit linking to search results, which in itself could inflate your page impression in a sneaky way. I think this is what got you banned.

However, I still don't want to rule out family members or your wife's Facebook friends trying to help/sabotage you. It's rare but they do happen.
11:00 am on Mar 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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When I got the spike in traffic I was stunned and ecstatic. I just couldn't believe my eyes while I was looking at the GA stats and live traffic. A little naive in hindsight, but I was, and still am new to this.

This year has seen a significant change in traffic and sites linking in. I have noticed Reddit, Wikipedia, Yahoo answers, Ask and others sending traffic to my site. I suppose I should view that as a positive, even if Reddit does knock it out occasionally.

I'm still contemplating an Adsense business account for the other website, but I think the traffic numbers need to be improved somewhat before I go down that path. As for my main site. Unless it becomes a major presence online and I can pinpoint what went wrong, I am thinking Google want very little to do with me.
12:04 pm on Mar 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It's understandable to make mistakes because you are new to this. A lot of newbies always have this misconception that you can earn a lot of money from Adsense right away but that is not the case. It takes years of hard work before seeing good results.

If your site is only less than a year old, your focus should not be making money - it should be making good content. I remember when I started in 2004,  I built a unique hobby site that gradually became popular: from 50 PV a day to 5k PV a day in year to 200k PV a day in 3 years. I was using Fastclick then and making minuscule money. Then I discovered Adsense. My first day earning blew me away: $500. Boom! It lasted several years of overflowing income. But that was then. Now, not too much. Quite depressing actually. 

Lesson of the story? It takes time, hard work and luck. 
12:19 pm on Mar 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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How spot on were you just then? I literally did think I would rake in money when I got into Adense. It didn't take me long to realise that wasn't going to be the case.

When I lost the Adsense I very nearly gave up. I'm glad I didn't because I actually enjoy what I do. I do what I do more for myself than anyone else. It's kind of my happy place. If people want to read what I have, they can, and if I can cover the hosting fees, even better.

I think the work is paying off for me, even though I don't have Adsense. I'm quite happy with myself that someone thought 2 of my posts were worthy of links from Wikipedia, as well as the links from the other big sites.

I suppose there's no harm in doing what I'm doing. If I continue doing what I'm doing, get lucky, and sort out what actually raised the ire of Google, perhaps I might be able to get my foot back in the door again. I'm just not keen to get a new business account, place code on the main site only to be disabled again before payout.
6:21 pm on Mar 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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It sounds like the IP hits all looking the same would be a big red flag to Google and you'd just be auto banned. It sounds like it would have looked like bot traffic.

As for the rest of it, you're getting tons of hits and making money, so don't worry about it. You're lucky, you're doing great. 7k hits a day is a LOT. It's taken me a year to reliably get over 2k a day and that's with a lot of sites.
11:59 pm on Mar 15, 2014 (gmt 0)

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If you did pursue G legally, what exactly are you expecting to get if you win?

Because don't forget this, you might spend your $38 and there is a minuscule chance you might win. But enforcing any damages awarded to you is a completely different matter. So the premise of "gamble $38" because there is so little to loose is not necessarily true, and in the case of G you can be sure it's money down the drain.

Enforcing any damages will involve lawyers and that's the catch. Whichever way the initial case turns out, lawyers will be involved if you want anything out of G.

Move on, you already say you are making more money elsewhere, go with that.
12:27 am on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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As I understand his choices, he's not "suing" Google. He's asking a government agency to investigate whether his rights under the law trump the contract that he signed. If the tribunal finds in his favor then his Adsense account would be reinstated.

If he loses then he'll be no worse off than he is now.

WDR
1:43 am on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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7k hits a day is a LOT.
It isn't. One person can generate 7000 hits on one visit.

Hits and visitors are two different things.
5:51 am on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

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Yeah, I'm basically doing as wa desert rat has said. If I win at the tribunal and Google doesn't appeal, I can get my account back. The reason is that they could very well decide a section of the contract is unfair. If that happens that section of the contract is viewed as never being there.

The tribunal isn't exactly a court, it acts more like a mediator, an extension of the fair trading department. If you have a dispute over a contract, service, sale, warranty or tenancy, you make an inquiry with an office nearest to you. They will attempt to mediate a solution without either party coming face to face. That part is free, and not binding on either side. If they fail in mediating a solution they give you the option to go to the tribunal, or if you prefer to you can go to court instead. You can not go to the tribunal unless their attempt to solve the problem has failed. You can however take the matter to court at any time at your own peril and expense.

Chris13 mentioned that it has nothing to do with fair trade, however all contracts in Australia are governed by rules. Both the fair trade dept and ACCC have pages on their websites about it. You might even be surprised to learn that if the manufacturers warranty has expired on an appliance, but there's an expectation that it should last longer than it did, the warranty goes beyond the manufacturers warranty. Pretty cool huh?

As for the 7K hits or visits, it's page views. I get about 3K visits a day and 7K page views, sorry for any confusion. So I've improved my bounce rate and visits.

My earnings are better than they were with Adsense, but I'm also getting a heap load more visits and page views than the majority of time that I had Adsense.

I'm wondering if I created a perfect storm. Massive increase in traffic, which would have looked suspicious even though Google had sent them, and incorrectly used cloudflare without the plugin or mod_cloudflare, essentially making Google think all the traffic came from the same ip range. I know I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but I'm certainly smart enough to know it's dumb to risk dollars for cents.

As it stands, I'm still not sure if I should go to the tribunal. The lack of any way to communicate with Adsense practically leaves me with a choice to walk and have no Adsense account, or take it to the tribunal, maybe lose and be exactly where I am now, without an Adsense account. They give disabled publishers 1 appeal. Blow it and your out for life. So what am I really risking?

Obviously if I knew what caused the problem I would fix it pronto. I'd even be more than happy to give the affected advertisers free ad space, less Googles cut of course, to make up for the invalid clicks.

I still stand by my earlier comments. Surely suspensions would work just as effectively. A temporary ban would make most people wake up and do things right. It would keep a lot of successful publishers earning for Google in the long run. If I were a shareholder that's what I would want. More money, a higher dividend and share value.
12:36 pm on Mar 16, 2014 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from GB 

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

joined:Apr 29, 2005
posts:2112
votes: 122


If he loses then he'll be no worse off than he is now.


Yes he will, he will have made an enemy, a serious mistake if that enemy is G.

And he will have gained nothing because whatever the tribunal awards will never be enforced.

but I'm also getting a heap load more visits and page views
. Interesting to know where that extra traffic is coming from at the moment - hopefully not G, the company you plan to take to a tribunal?

I think some seriously bad advice (as well as good) is being given in this thread.

Move on HappyHunter, concentrate on the future not some supposed error in the past. Move on.
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