Click fraud is a huge problem facing PPC advertisers online. Put simply, click fraud is any unwanted click on an advertisement on the internet. The problem is that you're buying space from publishers on a pay-per-click basis. It can be very difficult indeed to gauge which sites provide good traffic and which only provide hoax visits. After you have entered an agreement with a particular publisher, it is even more difficult to determine which of the clicks from their sources that end up at your product's website are genuine and which are fraudulent.
Reasons for practicing click fraud
- Destroy the competition's advertising budget
- Promote your own publication by tricking advertisers into thinking it is more successful than it is
- Naive friends or relatives thinking that by them clicking your adverts it is helping their business when in fact it's actually hindering it.
How to determine if you're the victim of PPC campaign click fraud
Of course, not every visit to your website will result in a sale. Far from it, in fact. What is important, however, is that those who visit the website have the potential to make a purchase from you. This is not the case with “fake” clickers. They will literally never buy from you no matter how great your price, or product is.
The first step towards eliminating fraudulent clickers from your PPC campaign is to ensure that you are in fact a victim of the malicious practice. We've outlined some tell-tall click fraud signifiers below:
Abnormal volume of clicks
If when checking the figures on your AdWords PPC campaign, you noticed a huge number of clicks but you aren't increasing the number of sales you make, this is a solid indicator that something more sinister may be going on. Sure, it's not really enough to be convinced that your ad campaign is under attack but it is a perfectly reasonable prompt for further investigation.
No one ever completes a purchase
When checking click data, take a look at the habits of the “visitors”. Do they fill up the shopping cart, and never check it out? Do they sporadically browse the site with no seeming reasoning? If the answer to any of this, and with any frequency, then the signs are definitely pointing towards click fraud. Seek some professional help at this stage.
Your budget is quickly exhausted with no sign of conversions
Check out the times of visits too, if you seem to get swamped for an hour or two early in the day, completely exhausting your budget in as short a time as possible, then this could be a sign of a botnet attack against you.
Based on the times of the attack, you may also be able to determine the most likely perpetrator of the action. There may be offshore fraud perpetration companies clicking on your ads at odd hours.
If you want to prevent click fraud, it's something you need to manage. You need to monitor your ads, their clicks, the geographical origin of the their clicks, and the frequency of their clicks with no conversion.
Most software tools provide a very low level of protection from click fraud; however, technology is evolving and if you want to prevent a larger percentage of fraudulent clicks, there are resources available.