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Transcript: Stop Click Fraud and Invalid Clicks in Google Ads
It’s a question I’ve had time and time again from different clients and from people who reach out to me via the YouTube channel, and that is the question of fraudulent clicks, also known as invalid clicks or click fraud. Now, this is a case of where people are paying for traffic that’s not from a real human with real positive intentions to find out about your business.
There are three main types of fraudulent click out there on Google Ads. This comes from automated bots, malicious people in terms of competitors or potential annoyed customers. Then there’s also click farms out there as well who generate clicks for businesses too. There are three main kinds of click fraud. In this video, we’re going to look into each of these specific types of click fraud, how they could potentially impact your business, and most importantly, what you guys can do about it as well. A ton of things to cover, but I look forward to showing you now.
Hey guys, Darren Taylor of thebigmarketer.com here, and my job is to make you a better marketer. Now, if you’re new to the channel, I’m Darren Taylor, a digital marketing trainer and consultant. I specialize in PPC and SEO, so covering everything in search engine. If that sounds of interest to you, you should consider subscribing to the channel. In this video, we’re talking about a controversial issue in Google Ads, and that is the issue of click fraud. Fraudulent clicks to your campaigns that you could be paying for. Let’s take a look and understand what the three main types of click fraud are and what you can do to help resolve them.
Before we do that, let’s dive into some interesting statistics from different reports around traffic on the Internet and users and humans. Did you know that pretty much only 48% of traffic is thought to be from humans? This comes from a report in 2016 from Imperva where they’ve looked at the different traffic across the web and understand whether or not it’s humans or automation that’s making traffic hits to websites. Now it may not sound as bad as it is when you think that 52% of traffic comes from automation or bots, and is non-human.
However, it’s not as simple as it seems because a lot of that traffic will come from marketing tools that use crawlers and can crawl your website to find out more information and automate tasks as well. It’s not as bad as it seems because even though that gets a visit from a bot, it’s not necessarily a malicious visit, and it won’t register in a lot of your tracking and tagging if done properly. The part you should be worried about is the 28% of Internet traffic that is malicious automated bots that are targeting ads across the Internet. That’s really important to note as well. Yes, automated bots are an issue in click fraud because of course bots can be scaled and pushed out by coders and developers across the world, and it’s very easy to scale fraudulent traffic using bots. That’s a very big issue that we’re going to confront on this video as well.
Let’s look at another type of click fraud which is fraudulent clicks from humans as opposed to bots. Humans going through and clicking adverts online maliciously in an attempt to make you spend more of your budget. How big an issue is this? There are instances of this happening and it does happen, and Google aren’t very good at detecting it which I’ll go on to in a moment but ultimately if a competitor or a disgruntled customer doesn’t like your service, or a competitor wants to deplete your advertising budget, there’s nothing to stop them from clicking your advert and trying to make you spend more of your budget.
Now, I always tell my clients it’s very few and far between that you will find competitors that are this malicious because of course, you’re busy running your business, and your competitor is probably busy running their business too, so it’s not a massive, massive issue but it does happen. Anyone who says it doesn’t happen is lying because it does occur especially in industries with really high CPCs, and also for those who know that their competitor hasn’t got much marketing budget to spend in the first place. They can deplete their budget pretty quickly. That can be an issue as well with low budget advertisers or high CPC niches.
The final type of click fraud I mentioned is click farms. Now, this is a malicious attack from a website developer, or a webmaster or website owner, because if I’m a website owner and I sell advertising space on my website, then I want to make sure advertisers know there are going to be a ton of traffic going to their adverts, they’ll get a ton of impressions and a really big audience, and I can sell more ad space to larger my audience. Think about it. If I’ve got a small website with very little traffic, I can’t really sell much ad space because there’s not going to be much exposure, but if I have a massive website with tons of traffic and I can show you figures of my huge traffic numbers, then all of a sudden it gets more interest and more people advertise on my website, but what if I’m using click farms artificially inflate my figures? This does happen.
Webmasters have been known in some instances to pay click farms to inflate their advertising by pushing up their impression numbers, pushing up there click volumes to different advertisements on their website, and that can be an issue as well. These are the three main types of click fraud that we’ve looked at. Let’s take a look at what you can do about it, but before I tell you what you can do about it, if you like what you’re hearing so far, please hit the like button below and let me know, question of the day, are you affected by click fraud? Let me know in the comments if it’s something you think is a massive issue in your campaigns. I’ll be interested to hear from you. I reply to pretty much every comment I get.
Let’s go on and take a look at what you can do about click fraud.
As mentioned at the beginning of the video, Google Ads does claim to say they can intercept and find invalid clicks in terms of click fraud, and actually refund your account for those invalid clicks as well. This is what Google say about their detection systems for invalid clicks. The types of invalid click Google claims to detect are manual clicks from people clicking your advert maliciously, automated clicks from tools and software out there, they do extraneous clicks as well. So people who click a website link twice on Google Ads you might not get charged the two clicks, they’ll refund you for that.
Of course, every click they say is examined by their system and have systems in place to detect and identify invalid clicks as well. That’s really important. When Google determines a click is invalid, they will refund the difference on your account as well. You’ll definitely know if you’ve had invalid clicks because if you head over to Google Ads, go to your payment settings, you’ll see all of the refunds when you look at your transactions report, but I can already hear you saying, “Darren, I can’t see any refunded clicks even though I think one of my competitors is clicking my ad, or I know I’ve received invalid clicks on my website, so where is my refund?”
Funnily enough, Google isn’t actually that good at determining invalid clicks, and it’s an interesting thing it’s not really one of their huge priorities. I’m sure Google would disagree with me with this but in all the accounts I’ve looked at in the whole of the years I’ve been doing PPC, it’s very rare to see invalid clicks especially in a few instances where I’ve seen competitors who have clicked our ads and I’ve got confirmed data to back that up. I’ve seen no refunds from Google in that regard. Of course, Google can understand the full intent of somebody clicking and there is a system in place for them to detect it but it’s not that good. What can you do if you don’t trust Google to remove fraudulent clicks from your campaigns?
If you’re technically-minded, or you have a website developer who is, you could technically pull a list of your web server log files, analyze that data and look for trends and patterns with the IP addresses accessing your site and see how repetitive and consistent a lot of the IP addresses could be. That could be a way of detecting whether or not somebody malicious, whether it’s a bot or a human is accessing your website time and time again and hitting your ads. Now, of course this log file won’t determine the difference between advertising clicks and organic clicks, or direct traffic but ultimately it’s a good place to start to see if you can understand if there are any consistencies with clicks coming to your web server from the same source over and over again especially if you have a short sales cycle.
Of course, there’s a huge caveat here in that if you do go too aggressive with this method, you can block genuine customers from seeing your ads ever again, so be careful when using that method and blocking IP addresses from your Google Ads campaigns which, by the way, you can do by heading to your campaign settings and adding to your IP exclusion list.
Now, the final method I would say that people are eliminating click fraud is to use a third-party click fraud detection tool. I’m sure you’ve seen adverts out there online targeting people who use Google Ads saying that they can detect click fraud and automatically spot trends and patterns within people accessing your website via Google Ads, and then add bad IP addresses from people who are doing malicious traffic and malicious clicks automatically adding that into your Google Ads IP exclusion list, therefore, meaning on a continuous basis it’s monitoring traffic to your website when it spots a fraudulent pattern it automatically excludes that bot traffic. It also has a look back window of millions of clicks from other users as well, and could automatically detect potential future bad clicks by using its existing database and AI.
An example of a business like this and one I’ve used in the past is PPC Protect. They do exactly that service. This is exactly how it works, and again I want to mention that you can find them in the link below in the description. It’s not an affiliate link. I don’t do any affiliate links because I want to stay impartial. I’m just letting you know it’s a service I’ve used in the past that does exactly what I’ve mentioned.
Now, one caveat I will add with these services is, of course, you can’t see the specific reason they will add an exclusion IP address to your Google Ads campaign. Of course, it’s because it determines it’s fraudulent as a click, or it could be a fraudulent click but you can’t see the specific reason. Was it a bot farm in Russia, was it a pesky competitor clicking your ad over and over again. You don’t know specifically the reason. Then the other thing you have to consider is, if you do want to use one of these tools, of course, there is a cost attached in the long term. When you do use this tool you need to benchmark your current performance, understand when you start using the tool, the cost of using it, and seeing if it has an impact on your CPA, or your cost per acquisition. This is really important to do as well. Although these tools can help you, it’s important to measure if there is indeed a difference.
The tool I mentioned, PPC Protect, is currently doing a 14-day free trial. You don’t even have to commit straightaway, so it might be worth just testing and seeing. Don’t forget what I just mentioned; be sure to benchmark your performance first, take on the 14-day free trial, see how you get on, and then from there, you can see whether or not it’s right for you to use a PPC protection tool like this to help you stop click fraud.
There you have it, now you know what click fraud is, how to detect it, and how to stop it as well. My question of the day as I mentioned is, let me know in the comments, whether or not click fraud is an issue that’s affecting you and your campaigns. I reply to pretty much every single comment I get, so please hit me up below. If you like this video, please leave a like as well. Don’t forget to subscribe to the channel. Check out the other content across the channel as well. I’ll see you guys on my next video.