If you’ve ever used pay per click networks such as Google AdWords or Bing Ads, then you could have been a victim of click fraud.
This type of fraud has become an increasingly significant problem over the past few years and affects many businesses worldwide, regardless of their size. Although many of the big PPC networks have tried their best to stop the problem, it still happens. As the problem gets bigger and bigger every day, more businesses are being affected by click fraud than ever before.
So why should you be worried about click fraud and what can you do to prevent it? Here’s everything you need to know to stop your business being affected by click fraud.
What is click fraud?
To put things into simple terms, click fraud is when a user fraudulently clicks on a pay per click advert. The person (or robot) behind the click never has any intention of buying your product or service and is simply wasting your money.
This is often done by unethical competitors in the same industry as you who are trying to give themselves an advantage. By clicking your ads, they are essentially forcing you to pay for clicks you don’t want. After all, if you have to pay for every click you receive, then you only want the best customers clicking.
The problem with click fraud is you can never really tell who is behind the clicks. With so many malicious robots and software out there, your ad could be getting clicked by thousands of fake users every day.
Why is it a problem?
If you’ve used pay per click networks before, then you should have an idea of how they work. Users bid against other users in order to display their adverts on websites such as Google. Whoever bids the highest amount for a keyword will naturally get the 1st spot at the top of the page. The second highest bidder will get the second spot and so forth.
These bids on keywords can cost anything from just a few pence to over ten pounds per click. When keywords are that expensive, every click becomes very important. One fraudulent click and your whole PPC campaign could be ruined.
The reason click fraud is a big problem is because it needlessly wastes businesses PPC budgets. Businesses have to pay for clicks on the network regardless if they turn into a sale or not. Usually, you wouldn’t expect every person who clicks your ad to convert. That’s normal, but when you include fraudulent clicks, your conversion rate can dramatically decrease. In fact, it can decrease so much that your campaign isn’t even profitable anymore. Then you are left with two choices, stop running the campaign or end up wasting lots of money. Either way, you lose.
Your competitors know this, and that’s why some of them actively target PPC ads. Since most PPC campaigns have a daily budget allowance, once the daily budget is up, they will be automatically disabled. This means your competitor can keep clicking your ads until you’ve run out of money. With your ad gone for the day, their advert will move up and take your position. This is obviously a big incentive for unethical competitors.
As you can see, the results of click fraud is only bad news for businesses. Not only does it increase their costs and harm their bottom line, but it also prices many out of the market.
What is being done to prevent it?
Unfortunately, very little is being done to prevent click fraud. Since most PPC networks make their money off users clicking their ads, of course they want as many people as possible to click.
To try and combat click fraud Google has introduced a traffic quality centre that focuses on determining whether your adverts clicks are real or fraudulent. Although it is a promising start to tackling the problem, it’s nowhere near complete. It still lets plenty of fraudulent clicks through which you have to pay for.
Luckily there is a better solution.
Many 3rd party companies such as PPCProtect.com have developed their own software to stop click fraud. By actively analysing the users who click on your adverts, the software can instantly detect any suspicious activity and block users from seeing your ads. Not only does this save you lots of money, but it also allows genuine users to still see your ads.
In addition to this, suspected fraudsters are automatically blocked from ever seeing your ads in the first place thanks to their extensive database. The database contains the IP addresses of hundreds of suspected malicious robots and users who are known for fraudulently clicking ads.
Unlike Google, the software actively works to prevent click fraud instead of trying to clean up the mess later on. If you’re running a PPC campaign and notice some unusual clicks on your analytics, then you should consider getting anti-click fraud detection. If you don’t do anything about it then you might find yourself burning through your PPC budget without any return.
Overall PPC is still a great marketing strategy used by many businesses nowadays. However, with the growing rate of click fraud in the industry, having click fraud prevention is becoming essential if you plan to make a return from your ads.