Could we be blocking a Google Ads bot?

Hello,
This may be a long shot - and possibly unconnected to CloudFlare, but I am running out of ideas, so am posting in case anyone has experienced this before, or has any advice.

Ours is a charity site, and we have also run a non-profit Google Ads account for many years, without any issues. Suddenly last week Google ads “disapproved” a number of our ads giving the reason of “destination not working”. We’ve checked for obvious things, http status errors etc but all seems fine, and the destination pages are definitely all working OK. Oddly, we have other Google ads going to the exact same destination pages which are “approved” and running fine. Google ads support have not been very helpful so far in identifying what their issue is with some ad destinations and not others, when the destination page URL is exactly the same.

We realise that google ad bots will use a variety of IP addresses, so one thing we are wondering now, is whether there is a chance that “some” of their IP addresses might be getting blocked at CloudFlare whilst others are not blocked. Is there a way I can check to see if any Google bot requests have been blocked at CloudFlare? As I say, this may well be nothing to do with CF at all, but it’s something I want to tick off my list of possibilities if I can.

Any advice appreciated!

For starters I’d check out Cloudflare’s firewall event log and whether anything Google related is listed as blocked.

Hi Sandro,

Thank you for your reply. I have looked at our Firewall events for “blocks” and there are a few, but how do I tell if they are google related?

I also noticed there is a another thread on here with the same issue of google ads being disapproved due to ‘Destination not working’, even though the destination is working (thread entitled “ADWORDS ads are getting disapproved - Destination not working” - sorry I don’t know how to link to it). I wonder if something is going on at Google ads end, rather than anything wrong with the websites. I’m still waiting for their further response to give me more of a specific clue as to what their problem is.

Oddly, I have re-created some of the “Disallowed” ads as new ads using exactly the same text and exactly the same destination, and this time they are being “Approved” even though there is no difference. i have told google ads support this.

I will of course post back here if/when we find the solution. If in the meantime anyone finds the answer I would be grateful to know!

You need to go through the blocked requests and check if they match Google requests. User agent, IP address, etc.

Hi Sandro,
Do you mean on our server logs? (sorry if that is obvious, I’m not that clued up on server things)

No, aforementioned firewall event log on Cloudflare. Your server logs might have some hints too though.

Hi Sandro,
I am looking at the Firewall event log on Cloudflare, but what I mean is how do I know if any of the blocked requests “Match Google requests”?

The Firewall event log shows date, time, action taken (block), 'Service" (WAF / Browser integrity etc), IP address and Country - but which part of those would I be able to tell if they were anything to do with Google?

Thanks for any further help!

You need to look at the blocked requests and analyse if they are Google related or not.

Can you post screenshots?

Hi Sandro,
Yes of course - please see attached screenshot, this is the first page of 2 pages of “blocks” on 20th September (which was the first day that Google started disapproving some of our ads). I would appreciate any pointers of how to analyse if any are google related?
Cheers!!
09|410x499

Did you check if the listed IP addresses belong to Google? Clicking the individual entries should also reveal more information.

Hi Sandro,
You will think I am a bit dim, but I hadn’t realised until you said, that you could click those entries for more information!!!

So now I have clicked to see the information on each of the blocked items, and only one says it’s from Google - but the ‘Rule Message’ says it’s a ‘Fake Google Bot’ (see screenshot), and as it’s trying to visit a page that hasn’t existed for over 3 years, I don’t think this is google. So, it looks like we didn’t block Google at all on 20th September.

I will check other days, but I am beginning to think this is not a Cloudflare issue.

Thanks for your help!!!

fake-google-bot-clock|690x307

The request in question does seem to come from Google’s network, but that does not necessarily mean it is their official crawler, as it could be also any other third party crawler which simply runs in their server infrastructure for rent. The fact that Cloudflare blocked it under that rule would further indicate that.

If you cant find any blocks, you might also want to check on Google’s side and why they claim to be blocked. They should be able to show which response they exactly got and that might allow you to track it further down, where it was actually blocked and whether it was blocked at all.

After further correspondence with Google Adwords support they “escalated” the issue to a more senior Adwords technician, who has told me he thinks the problem was at Google’s end and that our ads should not have been disallowed at all. He described it as a “system misunderstanding”!

He tried to get the disallowed ads approved again, but they just keep getting disallowed again - said those ads are now caught in a “loop” their end and will always be disallowed.

So the only way we can get those ads up and running again, is to re-create them as new ads (copy & paste). When we do that, they are getting Approved without a problem.

If anyone else has this issue in the future, and if like us you couldn’t find anything wrong with your “destination pages”, try re-entering some of the disallowed ads as new ads, and see if they get Approved. And there’s me thinking Google would always be right, live and learn.

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