Click fraud is when your competitors think that they’re somehow improving their business by sh*tting on yours by continually clicking on your AdWords ads, eating up your daily budget and depriving you of the opportunity to garner genuine search users.
And I hate it.
If you’re afraid of competition, you shouldn’t be in business.
Clicking on your competitors’ adverts and running up their account doesn’t make you clever, it makes you an a**hole.
Now, Google is said to have the best click fraud detection software built into the AdWords platform and will void or refund any detected click abuse.
The problem is, that’s not always the case.
Not even close.
Competitors Running Up AdWords Budget
Unfortunately, it happens. Quite often too.
I’d like to share with you a story about a carpet cleaning client who seemed to have a target on his back in the eyes of at least one of his competitors.
This carpet cleaner came to me after having his AdWords campaign run by Google, by an overseas provider and was getting absurd monthly management quotes from local AdWords agencies.
Still wanting local expertise but not wanting to pay through the nose, he went searching for AdWords freelancers and found me.
Straight off the bat, things were going superbly with 5 jobs booked on the first day, he couldn’t have been happier.
The campaign continued to improve week after week.
Until about a month ago…
Things just dried up.
Click Fraud Software Was Installed
After doing some research and seeing compelling arguments for click fraud software, I started a free trial of ClickCease.
From the very first day, we got a bite.
3 times within 4 minutes from the same IP? How did Google allow that to slip through?
I immediately went to check the AdWords panel. Yep, 3 clicks, and we were being charged for them as well. AdWords did not pick these clicks up as “Invalid Clicks”.
I figure that no system is perfect and this was just a once off, right?
Almost every single day for at least a week I was adding a new IP to the list.
Whoever was doing this to my client was persistent as well, going to great efforts to ensure they caused as much harm as possible.
And trying to click less aggressively throughout the day as to not raise any flags.
I have to say, I was really pleased and impressed that this software was able to pick up on these varying tactics and isn’t so easily outsmarted.
I can understand why many people think that click fraud detection software isn’t necessary inbuilt Google’s in-built system is the best way of combating competitors clicking on your AdWords ads.
Because I know how much click fraud can slip through undetected, I’ve since installed ClickCease on most of my AdWords accounts and I’ve hardly ever needed to block any IPs.
How Are Things Now?
Now that we’ve managed to block so many IPs, we’re really hoping that my client’s competitor has better things to do in his/her time than find ways to click on our ads.
(Better things like…focusing on their own business?)
Things are back to the way that they were, with a healthy amount of calls and e-mail enquiries each day from our AdWords spend.
We’re still picking up some new IPs here and there, but they are few and far between and it’s not destroying the campaign and causing my client to bleed financially like before.
The frustrating thing is that everyone has access to at least a few IP addresses and you may need to block the following person’s avenues such as:
- Their home internet connection
- Work internet connection
- The internet connection through their phone service
- Their partner’s phone service
- Siblings or friends phone service
- Public WiFi’s such as a shopping centre, restaurant or a hotel lobby
How Do You Block Competitors IPs In AdWords?
Go into your AdWords account and click on a Campaign.
Once inside your AdWords Campaign, click on the Settings tab at the top.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and underneath Advance Settings, you’ll see a drop-down title called IP Exclusions.
Simply enter/copy and paste the IP addresses that you want to block in the text field.
If you have more than one Campaign, you will have to repeat this step in every Campaign to completely block out that IP address.
How Do I Find Out Whose IPs These Are?
It’s a privacy issue and that information is held by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Telstra, Vodafone, iiNet, iPrimus and Optus.
You would need to start legal proceedings and obtain a court order to demand an ISP to hand that information over.
Remember the whole illegal downloading row over Dallas Buyers Club?
The makers of Dallas Buyers Club entered a lengthy legal battle with Australian ISPs to uncover the 4,726 IP addresses the German-based firm Maverick Eye detected who were sharing the movie through peer to peer software such as BitTorrent, uTorrent, etc.
Realistically speaking, if a major production house is not able to uncover those IP addresses, you’re not going to uncover them due to someone clicking on your AdWords ads too many times.
The best thing you can do is to invest in click fraud software to detect and block IPs when competitors are clicking on your AdWords ads.
Do I Need Click Fraud Software?
Click fraud software is not the only way to find out if there has been click abuse through your AdWords ads.
You are able to access your web logs through your server. In cPanel, for example, the web logs are often referred to as Raw Access/Raw Access Logs and can be downloaded for inspection.
Although, this requires you periodically downloading the logs and manually checking if there are any IP addresses that are continually hitting your site through AdWords.
I’m sure most people don’t have time to do something like that. Plus, the longer between your periodic checks, the more likely it is that you’re pouring money out thanks to your competitors.
For something like US$15p/m, it’s a very small investment that easily pays itself off even if you have infrequent click abuse.
Even if you don’t suspect that competitors are clicking on your ads, its a good idea to have it running for peace of mind as when a competitor does decide to get aggressive with your ads (and Google is letting it slide right by), it chews through your budget awfully fast.
Please note that this article was not sponsored, paid for, nor do I have any arrangement or partnership with ClickCease. They just happened to be the click fraud software I selected based on third party reviews and features.