Click Fraud on Google PPC, are you being scammed?

You will not be surprised to know that Click Fraud is rife on the internet with scam sites set up to bleed a legitimate advertisers budget dry. What may shock you is the amount of Click Fraud or ‘invalid clicks’ on Google’s PPC (pay-per-click) ad platform.

Where are Google’s PPC ads?
If you complete a popular search on Google your SERPs (search engine results page) will have 10 natural listings (desktop view) sandwiched between Google PPC ads at the top and bottom of the page.

google ppc advert

sample Google PPC advert

In this example Jet2 are managing a PPC campaign that includes ‘cheap flights to Tenerife‘. Now we know only a small percentage of browsers actually click on these links (less than 20%), this is because local searches are being hi-jacked by companies outside the area (low trust), but those web searchers who do trust them force a payment from Jet2 to Google which in turn reduces the advertisers daily budget. This gives Jet2 some control over expenditure as some of these PPC payments can be very high depending on popularity, £5 CPC (cost per click) is not unheard of.

What is Click Fraud?
If a competitor organises a fake click campaign using humans or ‘bots’ it is possible to burn the advertisers daily budget very quickly thus removing their ad from the SERPs. Google knows all about this, they claim to have filters/processes in place to stop it but can you really stop manual or bot generated fake clicks?

Example: Imagine you’re a plumber working in a town and you commence a Google PPC campaign for ‘plumbers in Canterbury‘, you’re PPC ad starts to profile and with a few tweaks to the budget, it appears top of  page 1 on the Google SERPs. The plumbers competitor now has to increase their budget to regain top position starting an on-line turf war.

An option for the dethroned competitor would be to manually click the competitor off in the morning, leaving their PPC advert top of the page for the same budget.

How to stop click fraud?
You can’t, it would be impossible to stop even if you worked out who was doing it. We’ve reported Click Fraud to Google in the past (on behalf of a client) and it took weeks to stop with no compensation. There are much better anti Click Fraud counter measure now in place but is this Google’s Achilles heel?

How does Google ads deal with fake clicks?
“When Google determines that clicks are invalid, we try to automatically filter them from your reports and payments so that you’re not charged for those clicks. If we find that invalid clicks have escaped automatic detection, you may be eligible to receive a credit for those clicks.” https://support.google.com

Note: Google say they can only ‘try’ to stop fake clicks and you ‘may’ only be eligible for a refund.

What are the other options?
We mentioned ’10 natural listings’ above, they are the Google results based on Google’s algorithm naturally finding content in a web page, matching it to a search and delivering it to your SERPs based on the keyword search phrases used, ie: ‘plumbers in Canterbury‘ will deliver 10 relevant web pages.

To attain a position within the natural listings on Google your web pages MUST be ‘optimised’ correctly. Google regularly sends a ‘bot’ (web crawling software) to search web pages and store data, when that data matches a search the relevant web page is listed displaying the URL (web address) <title> and <description> tags, like this example…

Google natural listing result

Google natural listing result sample

Needless to say this is a specialist area of web development (Google make PPC very easy to create) but if you know how to execute and achieve page one on Google natural listing your chances of increased sales increase massively with no chance of Click Fraud.

Note: Google SEO comes as part of all new clients (using WordPress) FREE training.

Here at Oast House Media we no longer manage PPC for our clients because of Click Fraud but advise the much safer and cheaper ‘natural’ SEO option. We’ve seen clients lose a lot of their marketing budget with no recompense from Google.

If you would like more information about Google SEO (search engine optimisation) contact us.

Thanks to www.GoTopSEO.co.uk for additional editorial in this article.