Last Updated on: 15th December 2023, 06:29 pm
Google Ads can get disapproved for various reasons, but one of the peskiest is certainly destination mismatch. Fortunately, I’ve successfully dealt with it throughout my PPC career, and today, I’ll show you how to fix the Google Ads destination mismatch issue.
Let’s dive in!
1. What Is Destination Mismatch?
By “destination,” Google means your ad landing page – the URL the searcher is directed to after clicking on your ad.
Destination requirements are another item on the long list of Google Ads advertiser requirements.
In most cases, you won’t have to think about them. But if your website is not directing the searcher to the correct landing page, your Google ad will be disapproved.
And it won’t stop there – a destination mismatch can lead to a lower Quality Score, which affects your ad position and CPC. Plus, it leads to a high bounce rate and reduced conversion rates. Users will likely leave the page quickly if it doesn’t meet their expectations, affecting your ROI.
It’s in your best interest to resolve the issue as soon as possible!
2. How to Fix Common Google AdWords Destination Mismatch Issues
Even if the landing page looks good to you, Google might see problems, so check for the following before you try to contact Google Ads Support:
2.1. Is Your Destination URL Correct?
First, make sure the destination URL for your ad is, in fact, correct.
In my 15+ years as a Google Ads coach, I’ve seen clients get flagged for this error because of a simple URL typo. Double-check everything before panicking!
Your URLs should follow the standard syntax. (Don’t use numeric URLs and characters like exclamation marks.)
Do Your URLs Match the Final URL?
If there aren’t any typos, but you’re seeing a Google Ads destination mismatch error, check for:
- Final URLs – Does your URL match the final URL the visitor sees?
- Subdomains – Are you (re)directing searchers to a sub-domain without telling Google? (E.g., Your landing page URL is “xyz.com,” but the visitor lands on “ads.xyz.com.”)
- Domain redirects – Are you redirecting the visitor to a different domain version? (E.g., Your URL is stated to be “domain.com,” but the final URL is “.domain2.com.”)
- Redirects – Are there any redirects on your website making the searcher land on a different page? (E.g., Advertising a product that’s out of stock, and there’s a redirect sending them to the category page.)
If you run Google Ads programmatically (especially in eCommerce), ensure you’re not inadvertently advertising products with redirects. In the case of Google Shopping ads, it’s best to sync your product feed to Google Merchant Center to avoid destination mismatch accidents.
It’s best to create tailored landing pages that closely match each ad’s content. Generic pages may not provide the specific information users expect, leading to a mismatch.
2.2. Is Your Google AdWords Destination Working and Accessible to Bots?
Your Google AdWords campaign can be disapproved if your site returns HTTPS or error codes. Make sure you can handle the traffic before launching the ad.
Similarly, your landing page should be crawlable by Google bots:
- Check your robots.txt file to ensure you’re not accidentally blocking Google bots
- Enable Google bots’ IP addresses if you use an IP blocklisting service
Finally, make sure your landing page is accessible in your target locations. If you’ve used geo-restriction services to block unwanted traffic, ensure your website accepts Google Ads traffic.
2.3. Is Your Destination Experience Problematic?
If visitors get frustrated with your website, your Google AdWords might be disapproved under the destination mismatch status.
For example, if visitors can’t easily close landing page pop-ups, your Google Ads might be disapproved. Similarly, if your pop-ups or interstitials block your landing page content, Google might take offence. Everything is fine as long as users can simply access the landing page’s content. If you’re doing something to prevent them from doing so, it’s a no-no.
The best fix for this destination mismatch issue is to keep the user experience front and centre. Avoid intrusive pop-ups and let content (not gimmicks) prove your value.
Your landing page should be exactly that – landing page.
The visitors should be able to navigate it safely without prompting any unannounced downloads.
If your landing page directs them to a file, audio, video, or image download, that will get your Google Ads disapproved because of destination mismatch.
(If you’re in the pharmaceutical industry, your landing page can be a .PDF file. However, you’ll need to obtain prior approval. Before launching your ad campaign, set up your .PDF landing page as part of your ad destination. When submitting your campaign for review, make sure to specify that your landing page is a .PDF file and wait for any feedback from Google Ads.)
Google’s definition of abusive experiences includes items such as:
- Fake messages (e.g. pop-ups mimicking system dialogues)
- Hidden clickable areas
- Misleading site elements
- Malware, scams, attempts to steal personal information
If your Google Ads were disapproved because of abusive experiences, run a security scan and protect your website against malware.
2.4. Google Ads Destination Mismatch Disapproved Because of Insufficient Original Content
If you’ve been engaging in practices such as using your destination as a gateway to other pages and websites, you might get flagged for a Google AdWords destination mismatch.
Other reasons to see this error pop up in your Google Ad Manager include:
- Displaying duplicate content – For example, you use templatised pages, and there are multiple similar pages on your website. Or your pages are direct copies of other pages available online.
- Displaying other ads to generate ad revenue – If your destination page is full of ads meant for monetising your website, you can bet Google will take offence.
- Displaying a 404 or “Coming Soon” page – Your pages should be fully functional if you plan to direct Google Ads traffic to them.
- Redirecting to other websites and pages – Your destination page has to be the final destination page – no redirects or gateways. If you’re in eCommerce, keep an eye out for products that went out of stock, and you’ve implemented redirects to the close variants.
- Displaying a blank page or incomprehensible content – There should be content on your destination page, full stop.
2.5. Other Google AdWords Destination Mismatch Causes
In addition to the common culprits, check for:
- App or web store policy violations
- Correct app IDs
- Unverified phone numbers
- Premium numbers that generate additional charges
- Numbers which aren’t local in your target country
- Virtual phone number services (except in the UK and Spain)
If you still haven’t found the problem, contact a Google Ads specialist.
Advertising policies vary by industry, so it’s best to set everything up correctly and prevent future mistakes from affecting your ROI.
Are You Ready to Make the Destination Match?
Running Google Ads for the first time can be overwhelming.
But if your website is set up correctly and your landing page is trustworthy, you’ll be well on your way to Google Ads success!
If you need help increasing your Google Ads ROI, get in touch with me. But if you prefer to do it on your own, grab a copy of my best-selling Google Ads book and achieve rapid success in 7 simple steps!