Watch for PPC Ad Click Fraud

Written by Nick Stamoulis

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Picture this. You’re running a PPC campaign and things seem to be going well. You are getting a steady stream of traffic. The keyword choices look good. Then, without warning, the results spike in an unexplained way, and your daily budget is drained within minutes. Unfortunately, this might be click fraud, and it is more common than you might realize. Here are some things that might help you identify if it is click fraud or not.

What is Click Fraud Exactly?

It’s when people click on your PPC ad and leave quickly. It isn’t this behavior that is necessarily the trouble. Sometimes people might realize that you genuinely aren’t what they are looking for. However, it is most definitely click fraud if they click having had no interest in you. They just wanted to pad the results and somehow “mess with” your business. This is spammy, shady behavior and most definitely click fraud.

Usually, you know it’s click fraud if your spend spikes at random. It’s human nature to click and maybe realize you aren’t a good fit, so you leave a site quickly. What isn’t human nature is if this happens repeatedly and consecutively, wrecking your budget and killing results.

How Do You Know It’s Click Fraud?

Without doing a little investigating, sometimes it is hard to tell if the spike in traffic was click fraud. Here are some things to check for:

  • Repeat clicks. Are you getting repeat clicks from similar ISP’s? If so, this could be click fraud.
  • Cost spikes. Is your budget getting eaten up very quickly early in the day? Is this odd behavior? Sudden spikes of cost-drains could indicate click fraud.
  • Data anomalies. Does something not look right concerning your search performance data? If there is some sort of oddity reflected in the data, this could indicate click fraud. An oddity would be, suddenly getting a traffic spike from a country outside your target demographic, spike in activity concerning a certain keyword, etc. There’s a lot of things that could look odd, and you kind of know it when you see it.

If you suspect you’ve been the victim of click fraud, be sure to report it! Platforms need to know if this sort of behavior is happening. It’s not good for their business model to not crack down on it.

How Do You Prevent Click Fraud?

So, how do you prevent click fraud? Granted, there’s no real way to fully prevent it, but these general strategies can help considerably:

  • Targeting. If you see odd click behavior, be sure to check your targeting. The more fine-tuned your targeting is, the better.
  • Monitor. You might want to check on your campaign daily to nip click fraud quickly if it occurs. Check traffic daily and monitor the campaign just to be safe.
  • IP Exclusions. Are you noticing that certain IP addresses are constantly clicking on your ads? As you begin monitoring your campaigns, you may notice that there will be IP addresses you should block. Trust your instincts. Block them!

Click fraud definitely still happen, and it’s highly frustrating when it does occur. These tips can help you identify and prevent it so that you can get the most out of your PPC campaign.


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