What Is Click Fraud And How To Avoid It

One of the main problems with pay-per-click advertising is the issue of click fraud. Pay-per-click advertising is a two way street. Not only do website owners pay a search engine, such as Google, to rank high in search engines for a certain keyword, but the same site very often puts Google ads on the site as well. Every time a Google ad is clicked, the site owner makes money, usually pennies on a click.

Putting Google ads on your own site is a way to offset the cost of pay-per-click advertising. What you lose in money from a click from a search engine you'll make back in a click to a search engine. Click fraud occurs when the site owner himself clicks on Google ads on his site, in effect paying himself. A few clicks a day probably isn't going to make much of a dent, but if Google registers a large number of clicks coming from the same ISP, it can be a serious problem.

It can also be a problem for advertisers with businesses that are smaller than Google who absolutely cannot absorb the amount of money lost due to click fraud. The money from click fraud can really add up. If you owe 50 cents per click on an ad, imagine if the site owner clicks on the ad 100 times or more a day. This could easily enter the triple figures by the end of the month.

Click fraud can also occur with advertising, a cost per click for each time an advertisement is clicked. If this is a concern, consider switching to a cost-per-impression—each time an ad is viewed—which cannot be fooled in the same way. While you won't find click fraud as often for search engine marketing, it is still possible. For example, a competitor might click on your Google Adwords links to charge you for the click—it's a way to scare off the competition. This practice is unscrupulous, but it has been known to happen.

The main way to gauge if click fraud is occurring is to check your pay-per-click log. If there has been a number of clicks all from the same IP address, or even the same general location, this should send up a warning flag. What this means is that you need to install tracking tools on your site to monitor where clicks are coming from and where they're going. You are the first line of defense for stopping click fraud from occurring on your site.

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