Click Fraud Click Fraud - SEO for 2016: The Complete Do-It-Yourself SEO Guide (2015)

SEO for 2016: The Complete Do-It-Yourself SEO Guide (2015)

Appendix D. Click Fraud Click Fraud

Say you own a website that allows Google AdWords to appear on the site. Knowing you make a profit the ads are clicked on, you go to the site whenever possible and click on the ads. Cha-ching! Money in your pocket. This would be what is known as click fraud.

Sometimes click fraud happens when a person, group of people, or automated script clicks on PPC advertisements. Because the concept of PPC is that advertiser’s pay each time someone clicks on their ads, this drives the cost of ads higher and higher without resulting in any conversions.

Sometimes there is no immediate monetary benefit. For example, your competition might do it just to make your costs higher. Some advertisers also believe that PPC providers commit and even encourage click fraud to drive profits. This might not be so far from the truth. Several court cases have resulted in settlements when PPC providers such as Google and Yahoo! were sued for contributing to or allowing click fraud.

Unless all the clicks come from the same IP address, it’s hard to prove that click fraud is actually happening. There are many software programs, called clickbots that can create clicks from what appear to be spoofed or different IP addresses.

In many cases, there are indicators of click fraud such as an inflated number of clicks without conversions, clicks that all occur from the same IP, the same city, or if the time of clicks is unusual. These can all be signs of click fraud.

Another good indicator for me is when the level of clicks from Google partner websites are more than half the number of clicks on the actual Google search engine website. That is a big red flag for me and when that starts happening I know to turn off the ads on affiliate websites.

If you suspect that you are being targeted by click fraud, immediately contact the fraud department of your PPC provider. If you don’t receive satisfactory results from reporting the activity, then you should consider pursuing some type of legal action or discontinue the ads that are suspect.

Click fraud in the end can cost your company thousands, even tens of thousands, of dollars and ultimately destroy your PPC advertising campaign altogether. Only close monitoring of your stats for any signs of click fraud will help prevent it.

Look at this chart below. Because of constant monitoring we picked up on what appears to be an automated click fraud on day two of the fraud. Look at the figure. Can you tell the day?

We noticed the day this happened right away. We went to Google to see where they were all coming from and it was several affiliate websites. It was easy to see the huge increase in clicks. Halfway through the next day we eliminated the problem. It hurt initially but at least we didn’t go bankrupt not knowing the problem was there.

Click Fraud Is a Crime

Click fraud is a crime, whether you are falsely inflating the number of click-throughs on PPC ads either for personal gain or simply as a way to harm the competition.

In an effort to insulate themselves from criminal charges and to create as many problems as possible, some advertisers will employ what are called “clickbots.” These are software programs that search for and click on PPC links to drive up prices. These “clickbots” are usually automated and very often almost impossible to trace back to their owners.

Another form of click fraud are called “Paid-to-Read” searchers, also known as PTR’s. Businesses actually hire readers to read and click through PPC ads online. It’s much harder to track multiple individuals than to track a single individual at one location using repetitive activity or “clickbots” to commit click fraud.

Search engines are being made to answer for click fraud, and the associated costs that PPC users are having to pay because of it, causing search engines to crack down on the problem. If you get caught conducting a click-fraud scheme, you could face stout fines and possibly even a criminal prosecution that could result in jail time.

TIP: I use a special tool called Click Report ( which report the IP information, where a click came from, and the keyword used to find it. It also lets me know when an IP has clicked on my ad more than once. I can then put that IP in to either AdWords or AdCenters IP Exclusion list to make sure that IP never sees my ad again