By definition, click fraud is when someone clicks on your paid advertising link with the intention of either diverting or depleting your budget.

This can be on a text link at the top of a search engine results in page (SERP) such as in Google, or it can be on a display banner or sponsored video that you’ve paid.

PPC based click fraud is whenever someone clicks on your ad with zero intention of becoming a customer or doing any business with you.
For you, as a business owner, you’re most likely to run into the issue of invalid clicks, which is accidental or automated clicks on your search result advert.
You might also come up against a competitor who can hire someone to click on your ads, thereby costing you money and knocking your ad off the top spot. Yes, this has happened before – which we’ll have a look at shortly.

Common ways of committing click frauds:

Automated intentional:

It’s estimated that 1 in every 4 clicks online comes from a web crawler or bot. While not always fraudulent, each click, automated or not, does affect your ad spend.

Manual Vindictive:

Usually, an individual who has a personal or professional reason to damage your advertising spend. Think about two locksmith companies servicing the same geographic area. It would be straightforward to click one of them out of business.

Bot Traffic:

It’s estimated that between 40-50% of all traffic online is automated, which means bots. These bots are automated bits of code that are typically looking for information, which is known as scraping or data mining.

Today there is software that can be downloaded for a few dollars which have one entire purpose, click on the ads you choose.

These services change IPs automatically and emulate a real user to trick Google into thinking the user is authentic.

We will not disclose the name of these services, but they can easily be found online…through Google.

Click Farms:

It might sound like a joke, but clicks are big business. For the average business, the way click farms might impact your ad spend is if a competitor hires someone to click on your SERP ad or banner to deplete your budget.

Your competitor doesn’t need to hire a click farm to click on your ads, but it is convenient.

Ways to deal with Click Fraud: 

  • Being Specific about your geographical area

If you’re running a global, or at least a multi-national PPC campaign, choosing your target markets is better than just applying for blanket coverage. So, if you’re covering Europe, Asia or wherever, perhaps be specific about regions and cities.

A problem here is that click farms and fraudulent activity can come from anywhere. Although the perception of click farms or bot traffic are of gangsters in the Philippines or hackers in Russia, the truth is it can happen anywhere.

In short, geographic area exclusions can help but are not 100% effective.

  • IP Exclusion

If you’ve spotted an IP address that seems to be behaving suspiciously, you can exclude it from being able to click on your ads. Excluding IP addresses is the way

  • Optimise your ad display

One thing you can do is choose when your SERP ad is displayed. So, if you know that most of your search traffic comes through after work, or during lunch hours, set your ad only to show in these times.

Or, if you know that most searches for your business come from mobile, you can set your ad not to show up on searches from desktops or laptops.

I hope now you will have a fair bit of idea on Click Fraud and ways to avoid.

Here’s my post on “How to optimise mobile app campaigns.”