Click Fraud Prevention on Google Ads

Is fraudulent activity making you lose customers? We’ve got you covered with this informative guide on click fraud identification, protection, and prevention.

Photo of Brodey Sheppard
Brodey Sheppard

Click fraud is a major cause of concern for websites using Google Ads and similar Pay-Per-Click(PPC) platforms. So, should you invest in PPC for generating revenue?

Although these ads are great for online marketing, fraudulent clicks will only drive away potential customers and drain your budget. In the long run, you will be paying for ad platforms with little to no return. In the global scenario, the World Federation of Advertisers predicts a loss of $50 billion yearly by 2025 due to click fraud.

Click Fraud Prevention On Google Ads

Since Google Ads is a great platform for money-making, fraud companies are always on the lookout for making quick cash. This impacts the quality score of your website and brand. The lower the score, the higher the expenses you’ll incur for CPC bids.

Breakdown Of Cost Per Click Meaning

To prevent such click fraud, you need to know what causes it and how to prevent such invalid clicks from occurring in the future. So, let take a look at how you can protect yourself!

What is Click Fraud?

A click fraud or invalid click can be defined as a black-hat act of increasing the number of clicks on Google and PPC ads. Such fraudsters may include business competitors, haters, bots and click farms.

50 Of Internet Usage Is Bots

Sometimes, accidental clicks from users with no malicious intent can also cost you a fortune. In fact, 60% of mobile users end up clicking on ads because of fat fingers! Thus, it is essential to identify all of these problems to minimise any suspicious activity and allow your website to attract genuine clicks and traffic.

Types of Click Fraud

To prevent click fraud, you need to know the common culprits behind this malicious activity. While fraudsters can never be categorised into a limited number of groups, these are some clicking maniacs prevalent on the Internet.

1. Bots and Fraudulent Software

Automated programs from hijacked servers and computers can generate a high number of clicks and conversions. Although these actions mimic human activity, Google uses automated filters and its team of experts to stop click fraud.

The Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) also plays a huge role in helping Google in click fraud detection by targeting common fraudulent tactics like crawler traffic, cookie-stuffing, and so on. Even accidental clicks, especially on mobile devices, are identified since these provide little to no engagement and bounce rates of up to 100%.

Most types of invalid actions are filtered from your website bills, and if any fraud click goes undetected, you’ll be credited for the same. This practice is known as invalid activity credit adjustment.

2. Manual Clicks by Webmasters

Website owners that use the Google Display Network get their ads displayed on third-party sites. Such websites are owned by webmasters who join the Google AdSense program that allows them to earn 68% of the total amount generated through clicks.

Hence, these webmasters try to increase their revenue! Google takes its checking process up a notch by partnering with various websites and apps and formulating strict requirement policies. If any of them violates the rules of fair advertising, they are banned from the AdSense program.

Also, Google immediately terminates publishers with false traffic. However, if the invalid traffic is purely coincidental without any malicious intent, the publisher is suspended until further notice.

3. Manual Clicks by Competitors

Competitors cashing in on the same keyword or niche often resort to fraudulent clicking on your website to increase your advertising costs. Keywords with more bidders have an intense level of competition. Consequently, every bidder’s cost increases and some might even run out of funds.

What are Legitimate Clicks?

To understand the definition of invalid clicks better, let’s find out what are legitimate clicks. Since some of these clicks may seem suspicious, it is best to do the research and not let them affect your earnings. For instance, sometimes competitors will genuinely want to click on your site while conducting competitor research.

Mind Blowing Click Fraud Stats

On the other hand, you may notice the same users visiting your site multiple times to compare products and services while shopping. If there are numerous clicks from the same IP address, it could be a result of ISP allocation protocols.

Ways to Prevent Click Fraud

After identifying which clicks are indeed invalid, you can choose from the various ways of stopping the chances of click fraud on your website. However, you must figure out which of these preventive measures will be best suited for you. Take a look at the methods listed below to identify the best way to stop invalid clicks...

1. IP Exclusions in Google Ads

If you notice a regular visitor that does not take any action on your site, it could be a case of fraudulent clicks. Blocking your Google Ad for that particular IP address can help in keeping invalid activity under control.

All you have to do is click on the campaign that needs to be excluded and choose “IP Exclusion link” from “Advanced Settings”. Select “Edit” and type the fraud IP address. Then click on “Save”, and you’re good to go.

When a Dynamic IP Address is Used...

Unfortunately, fraudsters know how they might get caught, so they resort to IP hopping tools to dodge click fraud detection. But don’t panic, because you can still stop them by using IP-based features from third-party tools. Alternatively, you can keep tabs on the IP addresses and source cookies that create a unique ID number on your landing page. Such IPs can be tracked further to recognise their behaviour patterns.

However, you must ensure that you maintain a report of such activity so that you have clear evidence for Google. As a result, you’ll avoid paying extra money for ad fraud.

Global Cost Of Click Fraud

2. Observe Timestamp

Keeping an eye on the action timestamp of a user right from their visit to your site till the time they take any action is essential in fraud protection. This is because any user with malicious intent will simply click on your ads to enter your website without any following action. Thus, it is best to block such a user’s IP address to protect your site from click fraud.

3. Use Google Analytics

Many website owners turn to Google Analytics to help prevent fraudulent activity. Besides checking the performance of your page and the keywords you’re dealing in, it also highlights repetitive clicks from suspicious IP addresses.

You can refer to your Google Ads account to make sure you’re not paying for any fraudulent activity. To do this, you can visit the “Tools’ section on your account and click on “Billing and Payments” under the “Setup” window. Select “View Transactions and Documents”, and therein you will find all the invalid clicks under the “Invalid Activity” category.

4. Opt for Google Display Network Remarketing Campaigns

Remarketing allows users to see ads only if they have shown interest in it during their prior online activity. This way, click fraud from publishers is easily avoided since they won’t be able to see those ads. Companies offering display marketing services can help in this process.

How Google Remarketing Works

5. Use Specific PPC Keywords

Limit your options by targeting industry-specific keywords only. Instead of catering to various niches, it is best to have a specific audience to produce genuine traffic that increases conversion rates.

6. Check User Behaviour Regularly

Make sure you check your PPC campaigns every day to identify ads and keywords that generate the most conversions on your site. Checking user behaviour on search engines will give you an idea of what drives them towards your brand and service. However, if you notice a similar behavioural pattern among fraudsters, immediately stop your ads from popping up on their screens.

7. Ad Targeting

If you notice many invalid clicks from a particular geographical area, especially where your business does not operate, it’s high time you block those locations. These areas are called “click farms” where real people are made to click on ads as cheap labour.

Indian Click Fraud Factory Photo

To dodge such click farms, head over to your Google Ads account and exclude the area from the “Locations” section. Additionally, you can exclude the respective language(s) too. This simple but effective method to prevent fraud clicking is called ad targeting. But make sure you don’t block the traffic that brings high conversion rates.

8. Formulate a Budget

Set a maximum PPC budget for your daily online marketing. This will help control click fraud on your ads and keep a check on your expenditure.

9. Fraud Detection Software

Opting for effective fraud detection and prevention software can help protect PPC advertising. Such software identifies users that resort to invalid clicks on your site. This process involves monitoring your Google Ads account and traffic and blocking fraudulent sources. In the long run, you will save money by avoiding invalid credit and boosting your conversion rates.

Principle Of Anti Fraud System Functioning

Click Fraud on Mobile Ads

Many people use mobiles to visit various web pages. Likewise, fraudsters also leave no stone unturned in draining your mobile ad budget. Here are the three major types of fraud clicks on mobile ads:

Oberlo Mobile Shopping Statistics

1. Click Injection

This method of click fraud takes place when an app is automated to track “install broadcasts” on your device. So, every time you download an app, the fraudsters can generate multiple clicks by the time the app gets installed.

2. SDK Spoofing/ Traffic Spoofing/ Replay Attacks

In this method, fraudsters use real device data to imitate installs which will eventually drive up your costs.

What Is Dns Spoofing

3. Click Spam

The most common type of click fraud on mobile is click spam. This occurs when a fraudster clicks on behalf of genuine users who are oblivious of the ads being displayed. They could be clicking on the background while your ads continue being the victim of invalid clicks.

Fraud Protection on Mobile Ads

Here are some methods to detect mobile click fraud and prevent such fraudsters from attacking your web page and Google Ads.

1. Install to Event Time

If users download your mobile software and immediately make a purchase within seconds, it’s not time to celebrate! You have most likely fallen prey to SDK spoofing, which will drive up your costs without any returns.

2. Event Flow

You can analyse the event flow of your software to understand the source you receive the most viewers from. This will help in publishing your app efficiently while preventing invalid clicks.

3. CTIT (Click to Install Time)

While monitoring the CTIT rate of your app, if you notice short intervals between a user clicking on your ad and then downloading the app, you could be a victim of click injection fraud. Additionally, click-install frequency is another analysis of checking fraudsters who were able to escape CTIT detection.

Ctit Fraud Identification

4. AI-based Click Fraud Protection Software

AI is a crucial part of many automated click fraud prevention software that can save your time, effort, and money by targeting and blocking click fraud. Such apps and software track cursor movement to differentiate invalid clicks from valid ones.

For instance, while a real user moves the cursor in a “natural” curvy motion, a bot’s movement forms quick, straight lines. Thus, click fraud detection software analyses these patterns with the help of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and ML(Machine Learning).

Moreover, you can easily check the legitimacy of an IP address through sites like WhatIsMyIP, WhatIsMyIPAddress, and IP2Location. Or let us do the job for you...

sitecentre Australia

We know all of that information may have been a lot to understand in one go. Plus, tackling click fraud is another headache with different methods, apps, software and so on. To save you from the hassle of choosing the best click fraud preventive method, we’d like to offer our all-in-one service to you.

We are a search engine marketing agency based in Australia. Right from optimising your SEO to protecting you from click fraud- no job is too challenging for us! Thanks to our team of web developers, SEO experts, ad managers, we’ve got something for all of your unique requirements. Yes, we don’t believe in the ’it works for others’ mentality. Every client is different, and so is our service for each of you.

Our paid ad management service covers ads on Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Bing, and more to ensure you enjoy cheap clicks with better ROI. We know how expensive PPC ads can get, so we use the best AI technology, Heat Mapping, and A/B testing to bring higher conversions and thus a high-quality score on Google.

Photo of Brodey Sheppard

Brodey Sheppard

Brodey is the CEO of sitecentre and a data-analyst in the SEO, Paid advertising space who uses machine learning and AI to advance sitecentre as an industry-leading digital marketing agency across Australia.

Find them on their website: sitecentre, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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