4 Things Every Internet-Based Entrepreneur Needs to Know about Preventing Click Fraud

— November 19, 2016

Preventing click fraud

One of the biggest issues that concern advertisers and PPC practitioners alike is that of click fraud. While this post is not meant to scare you as a business owner, being aware of the issue is the best thing you can do to protect your business from click fraud without avoiding it altogether.

Before you start getting into a panic attack, know that there is plenty you can do to identify whether you are a victim of click fraud. Depending on your time and resources, there are ways to deal with the issue using either a manual or automated solution.

Here’s what happens with click fraud: your competitor, who is often ranked higher in a sponsored listing, will scour the Internet for your PPC keywords. Since they are pay-per-click, Google will stop displaying them once the maximum daily amount of your advertising budget has been attained.

Now, each time someone else clicks on those ads, your competitor will push you even further out of the market and of course, this will continue to drain your ad budget. Also known as manual click fraud, this kind of action is done by people who are often hired to physically click through your ads using a special kind of software designed to click on your ads automatically.

Keeping this information in mind, here are 4 ways to protect your business while preventing yourself from becoming a victim of click fraud.

  1. Set Up IP Exclusions in Google Adwords

One of the more overlooked steps is with preventing further click fraud, is to set up IP Exclusions in your Adwords campaigns.

Here’s what you need to know: in the IP Exclusions setting, start plugging in all the IP addresses you’ve identified that have manually or automatically clicked on your ad with no intention of buying. This then blocks your ad from being seen to that IP address in the future.

However, know that there is a maximum number of 500 IPs that Google limits you for each campaign, which is why it makes sense to go with a third-party service for a nominal free (see the next section) to identify an even higher number of IPs that can then be blocked automatically.

  1. Use a Third Party Click Fraud Service

Even with a detailed and robust do-it-yourself plan, fraudsters have become increasingly creative and cunning when it comes to finding ways to click on ads without getting caught. This means you need to consult with a third party click fraud service to help you even further prevent the click fraud problem from becoming worse.

These service providers not only automatically add the problematic IPs to the exclusion list, but they can also monitor your ad campaigns by blocking those fraudulent IPs regularly so your campaign can go back to being profitable.

Who the heck wants to waste precious time manually looking for all the fraudulent IP’s?

  1. Track Click Fraud with Internal Reporting

Start first with Google’s internal reporting which can let you know if a click becomes a lead and if that lead then became a sale. You can do this by gathering the following information:

  • IP address
  • Click timestamp
  • Action timestamp
  • User agent

So what do all these terms mean for identifying click fraud behavior? An IP address is pretty self-explanatory, but you need both the click timestamp and action timestamp simultaneously to show who is clicking on your ad but not converting. The action timestamp shows the time in real time when that action was done.

So if you notice an IP address with a ton of click timestamps but no action timestamps, then you are most likely a victim of fraud. And once you discover an IP address that isn’t legit, report that right away to Google’s support channels.

  1. Avoid Google Adwords, Use Facebook and Twitter Ads Instead

Social media is the most powerful form of advertising – it can sell practically anything. On social platforms like Facebook and Twitter, use ads to target specific groups of people who cluster around these platforms, and by going this route, you eliminate your business from bombarded by a third-party initiative or your competitor. On these paid platforms, it will be quite difficult in fact, for your competitor to find any of your ads.

In today’s fast-paced online world, being a victim to click fraud happening very quickly and chances are, you probably don’t even realize something is happening with your Adwords campaign. Small advertisers and local businesses cannot really quantify the amount they are spending for competitors to click on their ads. The most responsible way to protect your business is to check your PPC advertising costs and start monitoring your ad campaigns on a regular basis.

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Author: Toby Nwazor

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