Click Fraud can happen when you advertise through any Pay-per-click system like Google AdWords. Especially an automated (rather than monitored) service.

Click Fraud

A way to stop click fraud

You put up your ad up and your competitor clicks on it without the intention to buy. It costs you $1-$2 a time. The bugger has cleaned out your daily budget.

The click fraud industry is worth billions. Because of this a lot of Google Adwords users have defected to Facebook Advertising as a result.

If your competitor clicks your ads enough or outsources someone else in another country to do the fraudulent job – say, “India” (Read my article about outsourcing your website work to cheap overseas providers here) you can lose hundreds of dollars.

It’s highly illegal and to my mind – a bit childish.

What Does Google Do to stop Click Fraud?

If you do a search for “Google Adwords click fraud,” you’ll be tearing your hair out. There are very few actual solutions. Lots of frustrated people are posting about fraudulent ad clicking on forums, but there are not many fixes.

“Why not, Ed?”

Well. Firstly, I’d like thank you for your wonderful question. Your mind is sharp. Have another coffee.

Let’s look at click fraud from Google’s perspective . . .

Click Fraud from Google’s POV

  1. A competitor clicks on your Ad.
  2. You lose $2
  3. Google gets $2

/– End Google’s POV

You basically gave $2 to Google for nothing. Why not post a crisp Aussie $10 note to them in the mail?

The do nothing approach seems to work best

Google says it does all it can to prevent click fraud, but there’s not much evidence of that. Why should they? With their supercomputers and tracking abilities you’d think this sort of thing would be automated. Banning fraudsters should be easy. Think of our customers.

The plain hard fact is – investigating click fraud is not going to make Google more cash. In fact, admitting to the problem and investigation of it is more likely to lose customers to Facebook (that debate rages on).

This is what Google does about click fraud … It’s their own page and it’s no surprise.

They clearly leave the entire investigation to you. They are effectively saying: “Sorry guys, it’s not our problem – it’s yours.”

I really need to quote my favourite comedy duo here . . .

Great Job, Google AdWords!

The internet is rife with people lifting a buck or two from your back pocket. It happens when you’re not looking. Think about that.

Click fraud often happens while you’re not looking

Click fraud theft doesn’t always happen when you’re running a PPC or Adwords campaign. Thankfully, when it does happen, it’s pretty obvious – if you get to see it that is. You have to be there. Tweaking your Adword Campaigns every day, like we do (Here’s our AdWords Price list).

The secret is in your server logs

Okay so here’s a point by point instruction on what to look for in your server logs and what to do about it.

  1. Get Geoffrey to do it. our prices for Google Adword campaigns
  2. Identify suspicious behaviour in Adwords (You don’t know how? go to #1)
  3. Download your latest server log file (You don’t know how? go to #1)
  4. Identify suspicious behaviour in your server log file (You don’t know how? go to #1)
  5. Can’t do this because you’re on Wix, Squarespace? (Get off these terribly limited services, get a real website and go to #1)
  6. Unzip and then scan through the logs. You’re looking for something like “?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI3uzAwqmy2gIVB5a9Ch3JOwYJEAAYAiAAEgIuyfD_BwE“. The “?gclid=” is a parameter that Google adds to track the ad. The long string of letters and numbers will appear next to your landing page URL. Look along the line. Further. Further. Further now. You will see the date, some browser info and finally an IP address. I saw 93.152.195.169. That’s what you want.
  7. Do an IP Lookup of the domain to see where it is (You don’t know how? go to #1)
  8. My IP address appeared several times. This one was located in Bulgaria. Which was interesting because I specifically told Google to serve ads in one specific Australian location. I can see the ISP addresses as indicated by the IP address and most of them were in India.
  9. Gather all the suspicious IP addresses (I found about 7 – mostly from India) and go into Adwords > Settings > Additional Settings
  10. There you will see “IP Exclusions”. Paste the IPs into this field and Voila! MOST of your issues are gone.
  11. You can also exclude a bunch of countries in the Locations > Advanced Locations tab.

If you don’t know how to do any of this, you probably shouldn’t be running a Google Adword campaign.

Do you know what Negative Keywords are? Stop using AdWords now. Know how to look up an IP address? Set Ads to display in a specific area? Set Ads Too complicated? Get us to do it.

Here are Our very reasonable prices for Google Adword campaigns.

Go Enjoy yourself. It’s a cruel world.

Author: Edwin James Lynch

Edwin wrote his first (Harrier Jumpjet) computer program in 1982. He now builds websites with best practice, future-proof web development, marketing & SEO. He lectured for 15yrs+ at Curtin Uni where (in 2007) he was voted 5th best out of 2,500+ university lecturers in Australia. Now he wants to share what he knows with YOU.

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