Are you using Google Adsense? If so, here’s something very important that you should know about. It’s called Click Fraud.
For purposes of this post, Click Fraud is clicking on your own Adsense ads showing on your site(s) in an effort to generate income for your Adsense account. This can also include having friends and family or other people that you know click on your Adsense ads.
My advice is NEVER DO IT! Google’s pretty smart. Lots of people over the years thought they could get away with it using clever schemes, dynamic IP addresses, and other methods. Some probably got away with it but many got caught. Not only can it get you banned from Google’s Adsense program for life, but it can also get you into legal trouble.
There are legitimate site owners who are getting their Google Adsense account terminated when they have done nothing to deserve the punishment. Naturally, this is different than clicking on your own ads and is a great concern to Google Adwords advertisers as well as Google Adsense publishers who follow Google’s guidelines. Considering the money that some publishers are earning from Adsense (thousands of dollars monthly), it is in their best interests to be concerned about click fraud.
Click fraud is probably the biggest problem that the Adsense program faces today and Google is cracking down.
How do you prevent being involved in this fraud?
- View your site’s access logs. The majority of web hosts provide access logs for your site. If your hosting company uses cPanel, it’s quite easy to access your logs. Look through your logs and see if you there is any suspicious activity. If you find something, or if you don’t know how to read them, you can pass the logs on to Google. This allows them to look for any suspicious activity on your site. As I’ve already mentioned, click fraud is very serious and giving your access logs to Google for their review is basically saying that you are serious about it too and want to help them in any way you can.
- Purchase and install something called “click monitoring software”. Just do a search on Google for click monitoring software and you should get a host of responses. Some you can get for free or you can download and try if for free while others can be purchased for a small fee. This software will monitor the clicks on your site and will tell you what’s being clicked on along with alot of other information. If you find something suspicious, check it out or report it to Google (if it’s Adsense related). You might also want to report it to your web host.
- Consider disabling ads from showing for your own IP address and local geographic area (if that makes sense). This step would certainly prevent accidental clicks and keep Google from mistaking another user as you. You can do this through an “htaccess” file on your server. Your webmaster should know how to do this or you can do a search on it in Google if you want to try it yourself.
- Do not place Adsense ads on pop ups and pop unders if you use them on your site. This is against Google’s Terms of Service (TOS) and will get you banned.
- Practice common sense. Your ads should not be displayed on content sites that promote illegal activity or hate sites. This would also include sites with content that is considered adult-oriented and/or gambling.
- Read through Google’s TOS for your Adsense account and, if you think that you may be breaking a rule, immediately remove your content or Adsense code from a web page or site. You can read the TOS by logging into your Adsense account.
- If you have clicked on your own ads, whether accidentally or intentionally, contact Google immediately and let them know. If you know you have done something that is against their TOS, be honest about anything that you may have done that is wrong. Confessing is much better than for Google to learn about it at a later point and terminate your account. Let them know what you’ve done and what steps you are taking to prevent it from happening again.
- Refrain from telling your family or friends about there being Adsense ads on your website. They may start clicking on the ads in an effort to help you make money without you knowing it, which could cause you to lose your account. If they already know you have Adsense ads on your site, explain to them that clicking on those ads can get your account banned and ask them not to click on them under any circumstance.
Most of the pay per click networks have a number of measures in place to protect website owners and the advertiser against click fraud. They track data points, IP addresses, browser information, user sessions, and a whole host of other information looking for patterns. They also have “systems” available that detects click fraud, which includes specialized teams that monitor clicks.
Google offers suggestions on how to avoid click fraud. Many of them were previously covered. Another one is employing the use of “negative keywords”. These can be used to show Adsense ads on your site that for products and services that are in no way related to yours. You can also add tracking URLs to your links so you can track the traffic coming from Google or other search engines.
This has meant to be a broad overview of how to prevent click fraud or how to prevent your Adsense account from being terminated for violation of Google’s TOS. For further information, log into your Adsense account and refer to the TOS. If you need further information regarding click fraud or how to prevent it, just search Google. There’s quite a bit of information available for you to review.
One last thing, if you have Google Adsense installed on your site, DO NOT advertise your site on a traffic exchange. This violates Google’s TOS and will get your site banned. Many a newbie has done this and found out the hard way.