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Bad words and Forbidden words in Google Ads

What is the difference between “Bad words” and “Forbidden words”

The terms “Bad words” and “Forbidden words” in the context of Google Ads are often used interchangeably, but there are subtle differences in their interpretation and application:

Bad Words:

This term is generally more colloquial and can refer to a broad range of language that might be considered inappropriate, offensive, or unprofessional in an advertising context. “Bad words” could include profanity, vulgar language, slang with negative connotations, and any language that could potentially offend or deter a segment of the audience. However, the definition of what constitutes a “bad word” can be subjective and varies based on cultural norms, target audience, and context.

Forbidden Words:

This term is more specific and refers to language explicitly prohibited under Google Ads policies. Forbidden words in Google Ads include language that falls under categories like hate speech, profanity, adult content, and discriminatory language. These words and phrases that Google has determined are unsuitable for advertisements on its platform, regardless of context. The use of such language can lead to ad disapproval or other penalties.

Finding specific “Bad Words” or inappropriate language in your Google Ads account requires a review of your campaigns, ad groups, and individual ads.

Key Differences:

  • Scope: “Bad words” can have a broader, more subjective scope, while “Forbidden words” are specifically outlined by Google’s advertising policies.

  • Policy Enforcement: Google actively enforces its policies against Forbidden words, leading to concrete actions like ad disapproval. In contrast, “Bad words” that don’t violate specific policies may not result in direct action but could still impact ad performance negatively by deterring users or harming brand perception.

  • Context Sensitivity: In some cases, what might be considered a “Bad word” in one context could be acceptable in another (like a medical or educational context). However, forbidden words are generally forbidden in any context on Google Ads.

Understanding these nuances is important for advertisers to create effective, compliant ad content that resonates with their audience without violating Google’s advertising guidelines.

How to deal with Bad words in Google Ads

Dealing with Bad words or inappropriate language in Google Ads is important for maintaining compliance with Google’s advertising policies and ensuring the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns. Here’s a step-by-step approach to handle such issues:

1. Understand Google Ads policies: Familiarize yourself with Google’s advertising policies, especially those related to prohibited content and language. Google Ads prohibits the use of offensive or inappropriate language, including hate speech, profanity, and adult content.

2. Review your ad content: Examine all elements of your ads, including headlines, descriptions, display URLs, and any extensions for language that could be construed as inappropriate or offensive. Be mindful of the nuances and connotations of words in different contexts.

3. Check ad status for disapprovals: In your Google Ads account, look for any ads that have been disapproved. Google will typically provide a reason for the disapproval, which can help identify the problematic content.

4. Revise and edit your ads: If you find inappropriate language, revise your ad copy to remove or replace these words. Ensure that your revised language is clear, professional, and aligns with the intended message of your ad.

5. Use context appropriately: Sometimes, certain words may be allowed in a specific context, such as medical or educational content. Ensure that the usage of any potentially sensitive words is contextually appropriate and related to the product or service you are advertising.

6. Resubmit Ads for review: After making changes, resubmit your ads for review. Google will re-evaluate the revised ads to determine if they now comply with the policies.

7. Monitor Ad Performance post-revision:Once your ads are approved, monitor their performance to ensure that the changes haven’t negatively impacted their effectiveness.

8. Educate yourself and team members: If you work with a team, ensure everyone involved in ad creation is aware of Google Ads policies. Regular training and updates can help prevent future issues.

9. Stay updated with Policy Changes: Google periodically updates its policies. Stay informed about these changes to ensure ongoing compliance.

10. Seek professional help if needed: If you’re unsure about how to modify your ad content or consistently face disapproval, consider consulting with a digital marketing professional or a legal advisor specializing in advertising law.

Remember, staying compliant with Google Ads policies is crucial for the success of your campaigns. Regularly reviewing and updating your ad content is a best practice to avoid policy violations and disapprovals.

How to deal with Forbidden words in Google Ads

To find Forbidden words or phrases in your Google Ads account, you’ll need to conduct a manual review of your ad content, as Google doesn’t provide a specific tool for identifying forbidden words directly. Here’s how to go about it:

1. Review Ad content: Examine the text of your ads, including headlines, descriptions, and any extensions. Look for words that might be considered inappropriate or non-compliant with Google Ads policies.

2. Check Ad status: In the Google Ads interface, review the status of each ad. Ads that contain forbidden words may be flagged as “Disapproved.” Google provides a reason for disapproval, which can guide you to the problematic content.

3. Review keywords: Check your keyword lists, including negative keywords, to ensure they don’t contain forbidden words. Sometimes, what seems like a benign keyword can have other connotations than Google’s system flags.

4. Landing pages: Google Ads reviews not just the ad content but also the content of the landing pages. Ensure your landing pages are free of content that violates Google’s policies.

5. Use search function: In your Google Ads account, use the search function to look for specific terms that you suspect might be problematic. This can be a quicker way to identify potential issues in larger accounts.

6. Review Policy details: If an ad is disapproved, review the specific policy details provided by Google. This can offer insights into what types of words or content are not allowed.

7. Regular monitoring: Regularly monitor your ads for any status changes and promptly address any issues. Google’s policies and enforcement can change, affecting the status of your ads.

8. Consult Google’s Policy guidelines: Regularly review Google Ads policy guidelines to stay updated on what types of content are considered forbidden.

Remember, due to the nuances of language and context, what might be considered a forbidden word in one context could be acceptable in another. Always consider the overall context of your ad when reviewing your content.


Dealing with Bad words and Forbidden words can be a long journey. Google doesn’t provide you with the tools to identify those phrases, and most of the time these issues must be identified and fixed manually.

There is a solution to this and you can easily find it directly in BlueWinston. BlueWinston has automatic identification of Bad words with which you can find and fix Bad words fast.

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About the Author:

Account manager of Bluewinston & CCS Shopping in EU ( I'm the guy responsible for the most effective PPC tool to create product text and Smart Shopping campaigns for Google Search.) Contact me @ [email protected]