If you are using Google Adwords or other pay per click services as part of your marketing strategy hopefully you will never experience click fraud. If you are not sure what click fraud is, or what to do if you are a victim of it, then you need to read on.
As you know Adwords is run on the principle that you pay based on each occasion someone clicks on your ad or when your ad has been displayed a certain number of times. (normally 1000 views)
Click fraud occurs when those clicks or views are generated artificially either by an individual, a group of individuals or software called clickbots. If click fraud is being used on your AdWords ads, your costs can increase dramatically, your ad performance is greatly compromised and at the end of it all you won’t have had a single new customer or sale.
The people who perpetrate click fraud do it mostly for financial gain. Those who have sites in the content network scheme want to artificially inflate the number of clicks or views that appear to be coming from their site. By increasing them, they increase the revenue they receive from Google, which means both you and Google are victims of click fraud.
Another group click fraud could be perpetrated by is your competitors, especially when the primary keywords become part of a bidding war. By increasing your costs, they are hoping you will either lower your bids on a keyword or stop bidding altogether.
The first step is combating click fraud is spotting it is happening in the first place. This is why we always recommend that Adwords advertisers monitor their advertising data and statistics regularly and in detail. If you see a sudden spike in the number of clicks or views your ads are receiving it could be a sign that something is amiss.
Before raising the alarm with Google, you need to determine whether there could be a legitimate reason for the increase. First, check to see if there has been an upturn in your sales numbers as this could be an indicator that the increased clicks were genuine. You also need to look at possible other reasons for the increase such sudden media interest in your niche or industry, which can appear out of nowhere.
Once you have ruled out all the innocent reasons for increased clicks, you need to collate all your data and pass this to Google to investigate. Information such as your server logs highlighting dodgy IP addresses, or those from overseas locations which would not normally visit your website will be useful.
Google’s investigation won’t happen overnight, and it can be frustrating how long they take to consider these matters, but be patient. It is as much in Google’s interest, as yours for them to investigate properly, and if click fraud has occurred they will confirm this to you and refund any monies you have lost because of it.