According to the global click fraud index, 15.3% of all clicks in Q4 2009 were click fraud attempts. But how do you recognise when your budget is being swallowed up by clicks which will only ever cost you money, and could cause you to be blacklisted by the search engines?
Your analytics are the most important tool in your anti click fraud armoury and you should be monitoring them closely.
1) Look for increasing numbers of clicks from geographic areas where click fraud farms are known to operate or where you would not expect interest in your product. Most click fraud farm operators use cheap labour, so if you are seeing an increase in links from third world countries, this could be an indication.
2) Check the IP addresses and URLs where your clicks and links are coming from. Your advert may have been recyled onto a link farm, specifically set up to generate cash from showing only ads which the express purpose of generating money from clicks. These are low grade sites and as fast as Google, Yahoo, Bing etc act to close them down, new ones spring up. The IP address shows whose connection is being used and a large number of clicks from a specific IP address range may indicate the presence of a premises being used to employ people just to click on ads. You can check where an IP address is based using IP Lookup, eg http://www.whatsmyip.org/iplocation/
3) Watch for any abnormalities in your campaigns. So, for instance, if you suddenly see a raised clickthrough rate for a particular ad group, did you also see a corresponding rise in sales or responses to your calls to action? If not, then see if you can discover whether there has been media articles or similar which could account for those terms to ‘trend’. If there is a genuine reason for the rise, then you should ask yourself why the extra traffic did not respond to your calls to action! It may be a good time to tweak those pages so there are a higher number of conversions.
4) If you have reason to believe you have been the victim of click fraud, then contact the search engine in question and ask them to start an investigation. The search engines are trying extremely hard to combat click fraud, and will reimburse an advertiser if click fraud can be established. They may also be able to advise on further ways to prevent it happening to you, and how to recognise it.
Click fraud costs you money, so save yourself from becoming a target by monitoring your stats and making sure it doesn’t happen to you. You can find out more about how to tackle Click Fraud in Pay Per Click Marketing book.