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On Clicking your Own Adsense Ads

A reader emailed me this question this morning and I feel its important that I respond publicly to it because it is crucial information for anyone using Adsense to monetize their blog. It is basic information but can’t be emphasized enough. He writes:

‘I just started Adsense, and one of its rules is that you shouldn’t click on links on your own site. However, there seems to me to be at least a couple instances when it should be ok to click on ads on your own site, namely:

1) If I’m actually interested in what the ad offers. After all, I’m writing about a specific topic and they are (mostly) serving ads that relate to the topic. So it’s highly likely that the ads will be something I’m interested in.

2) If I see an ad I hate and want to get the URL so I can block the ad.

There may be more instances your readers can come up with.’

I’ll be blunt with my answer – NEVER click your own ads for ANY reason.

I know of a number of bloggers who failed to learn this lesson and whom today are banned from using Adsense. In my mind there is NO valid reason to click on your own ads.

Why? Google tracks who clicks on ads (probably through IP addresses) and they have no way of telling if you’ve clicked an ad out of genuine interest or out of greed.

I mentioned previously how Google are currently being sued by advertisers over issues of Click Fraud – this is a hot issue for Google at present and I suspect they’ll continue to be tough on anything that even looks like it could be fraudulent clicks.

So what do you do if you see an ad that interests you or that you want to get the URL of so you can block the ad? Is there a way around having to directly click the ads? I’m told by my PC using friends that the Adsense Preview Tool might be something that could explore to get around this. It is a tool for IE 6 (and higher) users that allows you to preview ads through your right click menu (once installed). I’ve never used it (as a Mac User) but know of people who use it regularly and rave about it.

As a Mac user if I want to find out an advertiser URL to ban them or to visit their site without clicking on the ad I simply right click on the ad and copy link to clip board. I then paste the link into a text editor or word and look for the actual page’s URL inside the google code (don’t paste it directly into your browser or you’ll activate Google’s tracking code as if you’ve clicked it). I then extract the URL and either view the site or add it to my filter list. Yes its a bit of a pain but its worth it.

Be very careful about clicking your own ads. Its just not worth the risk.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Migs says:

    They know it’s you because of the cookie you’ll send when signing up, accessing the control panel, and clicking on your own ad.

  2. Dane Carlson says:

    Never, ever, ever click your own ads!

    If you share a network connection with other people, tell them to NEVER click on your ads, because if someone from one IP address looks at the stats, and then later someone clicks on an ad from the from the same IP address it it might look suspicious.

    You never want to receive an email from Google like this, especially if you were generating a decent number of clicks: “It has come to our attention that fraudulent clicks have been generated on the ads on your site(s), and we are investigating the situation.”

  3. Migs says:

    I wrote a simple web script to let you safely view your ads. It’s here. It works by taking out your publisher ID and replacing it with “ca-test” which is used by the preview tool. Hope this helps.

  4. Geert says:

    @ Dane: that is my situation at home and it is not very practical. I have to keep telling my mom and brothers not to click those ads. By now they should know, however some “fraudulent” clicks out of genuine interest have been generated.

  5. Ogo says:

    Hi !
    Another method that I remember reading somewhere in google page was clicking the “ads by Goooooogle” line which is found on one of the corners of your ad unit ,which will take you to feedback and suggestions page where the URLs (without any Google reference) of the current ads are visible. You could then copy-paste the clean URL to another browser just like Darren pointed out. This does not create self-clicks unless you miss the tiny google link and hit a real ad! Risky ! :-)
    Ogo

  6. Nicholas says:

    I accidently clicked on one of my ads once. I didn’t meant to honestly. I was so afraid that something bad would happen. But nothing has. I’m hoping Google will forgive one accident.

    Anyway, I think a better strategy would be for google to just filter these clicks out. So, you can click on the ads, but it doesn’t get you any money or cost the advertiser anything.

  7. How hard would it be for Google to implement some kind of “ignore visits from this IP address” function similar to what Sitemeter uses? On Sitemeter I set up my account so that it ignores visits to my site from both my home and work IP addresses thereby preventing me from getting false positives in my stats. It can’t be that hard.

  8. Geert says:

    Google actually does filter your own clicks out. After somebody in my network clicked on an ad I remember seeing 1 click with a revenue of $0.

  9. Just mouse over the Google ad and your browser should tell you the URL of the ad. Usually the little pop-up ballon says “go to http://www.XYZ.com“, telling you the web site. The actual initial target of the click is more complicated since it goes to Google first for tracking before finally redirectly to the advertiser’s particular portal page for that ad.

    – Jack Krupansky

  10. Jon says:

    If you are so interested in the things that are offered in the ad, you can click the link with the right mouse button, and copy the URL for the ad, and paste it into your browser. Then delete everyhing except the url for the page, which will be in adurl=

  11. Leonivek says:

    I’ve also accidentally clicked my ads while working on the design and literally swore out loud! LOL This actually happened 2 days ago and I was thinking, “Oh no! I don’t want to lose my account!” But when I checked my report, it said that click was $0… phew. I also agree that they should come up with an “Ignore this IP” option.

  12. Paul Power says:

    Being a newbie to AdSense I’ve also accidentally clicked on my own adverts, I assumed that Google would just ignore them. When I checked my AdSense report they were there but as $0 so it looks like Google does the sensible thing of tracking the user owned clicks but doesn’t pay for them.

    I’m assuming that their tracking feds into some sort of fraud monitoring application and that a significent number of $0 clicks marks you as worth of investigation – here’s hoping that click threshold isn’t very low.

  13. Mike says:

    -don’t stare at adsense adds for too long(joking) they might cancel your account, you know how picky google can be.

  14. Abhinav Sood says:

    If you don’t want to use any external preview tool or WebScript, then you can follow my post Click your own Ads & Google won’t even mind!… All you have to do is just a ultra-short line of code at the end of ad code, that does what any preview tool or script does.

  15. mani says:

    Once i accidently clicked on my ads. But there is an option of informing google about “Accidently clicked Ads” i dont remember the address but search for”inform accidently clicked ads” on Google and you will find the form for doing that. My website is related to work from home. I have a long list of Web directories for SEO and a big list of high paying keywords for better money.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Perhaps somebody should make a GreaseMonkey script for this?