Click Fraud – What it is and How to Prevent It

Click Fraud – What it is and How to Prevent ItFor advertisers and pay-per-click (PPC) practitioners, one of the biggest issues and concerns is click fraud. The best thing you can do to protect your business from click fraud as much as possible is to be aware of it and take necessary precaution.

What is click fraud?
Your competitor, who is often ranked higher in a sponsored listing, will search the Internet for your PPC words. Once the maximum daily amount of your advertising budget has been attained, Google will stop displaying them, since they’re pay-per-click. Every time someone else clicks on those ads, your competitor will push you further out of the market and continue to drain your ad budget. This sort of action, also known as manual click fraud, is often done by people who are hired to physically click through your ads using a special software designed to click them automatically. Here are 4 ways to protect your company from this:

IP Exclusions in Google Adwords
Setting up IP Exclusions in your Adwords campaigns is one of the more overlooked steps but is very important for preventing further click fraud. Plug in all the IP addresses that you’ve identified which have manually or automatically clicked on your ad with no intention of buying – this blocks your ad from being seen by those IP addresses in the future. It’s important to note, however, that there is a maximum of 500 IPs that Google limits you for each campaign. This is why it makes sense to go with a third-party service to identify an even larger number of IPs which can then be blocked automatically.

Third-Party Click Fraud Service
Fraudsters have become increasingly creative and sneaky when it comes to finding ways to click on ads without getting caught – even when you’ve got a detailed and strong DIY plan. Consulting with a third-party click fraud service will help you to further prevent the fraud problem from worsening. Not only do these service providers automatically add the problematic IPs to the exclusion list, but they can also monitor your ad campaigns by regularly blocking the fraudulent IPs for your campaign to go back to being profitable.

Internal Reporting
Track click fraud by using Google’s internal reporting which lets you know if a click becomes a lead and if that lead becomes a sale. Gather the following information to help you do this:

– IP Address
– Click timestamp
– Action timestamp
– User agent

The click timestamp and action timestamp are important because they show who is clicking on your ad but not converting – the action timestamp shows the action being done in real time. If you notice an IP address with lots of click timestamps but no action timestamps, then chances are there is fraud. Should you discover an IP address that isn’t legit, report it immediately to Google’s support channels.

Facebook and Twitter Ads
Social media is the most powerful form of advertising, so instead of using Google Adwords, opt for using platforms such as Facebook and Twitter for ads instead. Through these platforms, you can use the ads to target specific groups of people, which helps to prevent your business from being bombarded by a third-party initiative or your competitor. It is actually quite difficult for competitors to find any of your ads on these paid platforms.

Being a victim of click fraud can happen so quickly and easily in this fast-paced online world, so it’s important to take all the necessary precautions to prevent yourself from becoming one. Check your PPC advertising costs and start monitoring your ad campaigns on a regular basis to protect your brand responsibly and effectively.

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