Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising such as Google’s AdWords is becoming more and more important to many locksmith business’s marketing efforts. When used well, it’s a highly targeted and cost-effective way of driving valuable business your way. However, like many sectors where PPC is used heavily, we’re now seeing an increase of activity that contravenes Google’s rules and is severely hampering some locksmith businesses online marketing efforts. The activity in question is click fraud.
What Is Click Fraud?
To put it in its simplest form, click fraud is a method of generating fraudulent clicks on digital advertising such as AdWords ads. A person, a group of people or automated bots imitate the legitimate use of a web browser and then click on ads without actually having any interest in the ad itself. This has two clear, negative effects:
- It costs you money as a business. Every fake click on your PPC ads costs you money as the person or bot has absolutely no interest in your locksmith services.
- It can lead to you disappearing from Google’s listings. One popular way click fraud is used by a company’s competitors is to click on their competitors ads, exhaust their daily budget and thus eliminate them from appearing on the rest of the day’s searches.
Who Commits Click Fraud?
Click fraud can be committed by a number of different people/groups including:
In competitive sectors such as the locksmith industry, click fraud can be a method that some businesses use to try and eliminate their competition. Fraudulently clicking on your ads can cause you significant amounts of money that you get no return from and can also lead to your ads disappearing from view if your daily budget is exceeded.
Publishers (websites that display PPC adverts)
Depending upon how you structure your AdWords campaign, you may find that your ads appear on the Google Display Network, where your ads will appear on relevant websites that your target market are using. Every time someone clicks on your ad on a website, the publisher gets a percentage of the price you pay for the click. This has led to some publishers fraudulently clicking on ads on their own page or by paying for services to do this for them, which is also fraudulent and against Google guidelines.
Other Malicious Intent
Just like vandalism, there are many motives that could be the reason why someone may want to cause harm by committing click fraud on your PPC ads. This could be a personal vendetta or maybe a disgruntled customer.
How is Click Fraud Committed?
Those who commit click fraud may do so in a number of ways:
- Manually: Simply by clicking on ads themselves.
- Bots: Some people use software applications that are available that impersonate human behaviour and are coded to click on ads.
- Click farms: These are the sweatshops of the online world and involve large numbers of people usually in very poor countries employed to fraudulently click on ads. People or companies may outsource their click fraud to these click farms.
How to Protect Against Click Fraud
It can be very difficult to spot click fraud as it can occur in a number of ways. Some things that you should look out for include:
- Repeated clicks from the same or similar ISPs that aren’t converting
- Spikes in your search costs that are unusual
- Any anomalies in your performance data that cannot easily be explained
To protect yourself from click fraud is a demanding task and requires you to fully understand how you are using pay-per-click advertising. You should establish and adhere to strict budgets and keep a close eye on your analytics, regularly monitoring user behaviour. This can quite time consuming but can save you significant amounts of money if you are being targeted by click fraud.
Alternatively, you should consider using a service that identifies and protects against click fraud – www.clickguardian.co.uk – Click Guardian offers a set-and-forget solution which is easy to install and automates the process of detecting excessive clicking on your ads. The system then automatically blocks the offender in Google AdWords! Start your Free trial for 14 days to see whether click fraud is wasting your advertising budget.