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.