If you advertise using Google Ads you might have heard about click fraud.
This is when your competitor clicks on you Google Ads simply to waste your daily ad budget. Studies have shown that between 2016 and 2018 over $7 billion was wasted on fraudulent clicks.
What Exactly is Click Fraud?
Click fraud is a way for a competitor to sabotage a competitor’s pay-per-click advertising. One method is to repetitively click on an ad to exhaust the daily budget cap of an ad. It can also be done with the use of a bot. Some 50% of internet traffic is bots and some of them can be malicious.
Click fraud may also come from click farms. This is a commercial enterprise that employs multiple people to repeatedly click on ads to artificially inflate their engagement, traffic, and statistics.
Click fraud not only causes financial loss but also impacts the performance of the ads by driving up click-through rates without conversions.
This can reduce your keyword quality score and may cost you more per click than competitors have higher scores.
Are You a Victim of Click Fraud?
If you are managing your own Google Ads, you can use Google Ads, Google Analytics, and internal reporting from your webserver to examine your IP Address, Click Timestamp, Action Timestamp, and User-agent.
When examining this data, look for suspicious patterns and behaviors such as:
- Multiple clicks from the same IP address or User-Agent in a short time period
- Multiple clicks made by different IP addresses from the same range of IP addresses
- Multiple clicks from the same User-Agent
- Very little, if any, time spent on your landing page
Blocking Invalid Clicks
Google calls click fraud invalid clicks, and unfortunately, they don’t actively do anything to prevent or block click fraud from happening.
However, they do screen for invalid clicks through an automatic detection system and try to avoid charging you for those clicks. The system of detection is not always reliable, and some advertisers are able to receive credit for clicks by submitting invalid reports to Google.
There are two ways that you can stop click fraud yourself without the help of Google:
1. IP Exclusion
Once you create a list of suspicious IP addresses, you can block them from seeing your ads.
You can do this by selecting the campaign you want to block the IP address in, select “settings” on the inner menu, click on “additional settings,” under “IP exclusions” paste the IP address you want to exclude, then press “save” to block the IP address.
2. GEO Targeting
Another way to prevent fraudulent clicks is to use geotargeting. When choosing where your ads are displayed, you can exclude your ads from being displayed in certain regions.
You can do this by selecting the campaign you want to GEO target, select “locations” on the inner menu, select “excluded” from the horizontal menu over the map, click the blue pencil icon to add locations, then click save. It is often standard practice to exclude foreign countries and territories if you don’t provide services to those countries.
Regardless of how you choose to handle click fraud on your Google Ads account, it is always a good idea to keep tabs on these statistics so you are not wasting your budgeting dollars.