How to “Get Around” Google’s Restricted and Prohibited Drug Term Policies

To begin, you can review Google’s Healthcare and Medicine Advertising Policies HERE. You’ll find they are strict in that they clearly outline the types of products and services that can’t be advertised while at the same time being frustratingly non-exhaustive (meaning Google can add to them as they see fit at any time). Why is that frustrating? Well, in quite a few instances I’ve tried to run ads for terms that do not appear on Google’s official list of restricted drug terms, yet the ad gets disapproved anyways and Google leaves no room for negotiating.

That said, if you’ve landed on this blog post chances are you’re already familiar with Google’s advertising policies and you’re looking for a way to dodge them. Truthfully, there are ways to “get around” them (if only temporarily).

Dynamic Keyword Insertion and Restricted Drug Terms

One of the most effective methods is to use dynamic keyword insertion which lets you automatically update your ads with the keywords in your ad group that caused your ads to show. Essentially, this tool allows you to insert the searchers own search query directly into your ad copy rendering it more relevant to their search.

Place the Restricted Drug Terms In Your Ad Copy

Another “work around” isn’t actually a work around, it’s just clarifying a rule that’s often confused. Google’s refusal to allow you to target restricted drug terms is limited to just that: targeting restricted drug terms in your keywords. It has no bearing on the content of your ads themselves. Sometimes you can include restricted drug terms in spaces of your ad copy without issue including your ad description and ad extensions like site link extensions, call out extensions and url parameters. Paired with well-done keyword research, this approach can solve many advertisers frustrations.

Targeting Restricted Drug Terms Through Paid Advertising Actually Isn’t That Effective

It’s effective don’t get me wrong! Just not effective enough that it’s an excuse for neglecting all the other ways to bring customers through the door through advertising. Sometimes I’m surprised at the level of effort that’s put into daring strategies to target people searching for drug terms specifically. It’s often not an effective strategy because normally searchers who know a drug term well enough to Google search for it aren’t actually the type of customers you or your client are looking to bring through their door. They may be researchers, informational searchers etc. but rarely are they potential patients looking for a solution to their ailment. Potential patients don’t necessarily know what restricted drug terms to search for. Instead of researching how to outsmart Google, I recommend putting that effort into researching how to meet your target audience where they’re at. Furthermore, I can’t count the number of times I’ve opened up an account that was performing badly “because they couldn’t target restricted drug terms” and found that the account was severely lacking in other areas. Not being able to target a restricted drug term is not an excuse for poor performance in an advertising campaign. Furthermore, advertising isn’t the only effective medical marketing channel which brings us to the next point.

There Are No ‘Restricted Drug Terms’ When it Comes to the Organic Search Results

I’m going to keep this last point short and to the point because it isn’t directly related to a discussion about targeting restricted drug terms through Google ads. The point I’d like to make is that while Google does make it difficult to advertise for drug terms, they make it easy to publish quality content that will rank organically for any drug term you’d like. In a nutshell, explore all your marketing channels as some of the our most successful case studies leverage both SEO and PPC aggressively.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Try Anything Smart

Allow me to highlight a small snippet of Googles Healthcare and Medical advertising policy pertaining to attempts to circumvent their policies:

Circumventing systems

The following is not allowed:

Not allowed Engaging in practices that attempt to circumvent or interfere with Google’s advertising systems and processes

Examples: Cloaking; using dynamic DNS to switch page or ad content; manipulating site content or restricting access to so many of your landing pages that it makes it difficult to meaningfully review your ad, site, or account

Not allowed Manipulating ad text in an attempt to bypass our automated system checks

Examples: Misspelling prohibited words or phrases to avoid ad disapproval; manipulating trademark terms in the ad text to avoid the restrictions associated with the use of that trademark

Aaaaand here’s a link to a support document that outlines what they’ll do to you if you continually try to outsmart them in their: “What Happens if You Violate Our Policies”.