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How to Prevent and Monitor Invalid Clicks, and keep an AdSense Account in Good Standing [a Statement from AdSense]

Over the last week or two there’s been an increase amount of chatter on forums and blogs about invalid clicks and AdSense. Some of the talk has contained information that has been a little confusing and perhaps even ill-informed (and some ‘influenced’ by companies with their own agendas) – so I got in touch with AdSense and asked if they had any information to help their publishers protect themselves against invalid clicks.

The following is what they replied with – in their words it is ‘a concise guide to how to prevent and monitor invalid clicks, and keep an AdSense account in good standing.’ I hope that it is helpful to AdSense publishers everywhere:

The Google AdSense team has heard many concerns about how Google treats invalid click activity on publisher’s sites, and there have been questions on how to keep your AdSense account in good standing. The Google Ads Quality Traffic Team wants to help all publishers keep their accounts in good order, so here are some tips to keep in mind.

We understand that it’s not always possible to control the behavior of your users, but you can be proactive about monitoring your traffic, and you can take steps to ensure that your site provides a helpful and safe environment for users and advertisers. Here are some top tips for keeping your account in good standing (which you may have seen before): https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=23921

Expanding on the tip “Be aware of how your site is promoted.” we’d like to remind you that, should you purchase traffic to promote your site, you do so at your own risk. There are many site promotion services out there that appear to be legitimate PPC advertising companies or search engines, but actually may be sending artificial traffic to your site for their own gain. (For legal reasons, we’re not allowed to disclose the names of such services.)

To combat this, we highly recommend that you use channels to segment your traffic by source (e.g. a channel for your site’s Google AdWords traffic only). If one channel’s reports look particularly suspicious, you may want to consider unsubscribing from that traffic service. We also recommend using Analytics to slice and dice your traffic reports further to ensure that you’re receiving clicks from users who are genuinely interested in your ads.

Though we encourage you to be proactive about monitoring your site and ad traffic, we highly discourage the use of click tracking via third-party software or custom ad implementations. These methods may:

  • inadvertently disclose sensitive information about you or your site to a third-party
  • disrupt Google’s ad delivery or click logging in a way that violates our Terms and Conditions

In addition, click tracking may not provide you with significantly more information than you can already find in your AdSense or Analytics reports. We believe that the creative use of channels can help you gain detailed insights into your account.

If you see unusual activity on your account, feel free to submit this form to let us know: https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/request.py?contact=invalid_clicks_contact Please note that we will only respond if we find a significant issue with your account.

Invalid clicks can come from many sources, as described at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=16737. While we’re unable to go into the details of our monitoring system, you should know that invalid clicks don’t always mean clicking on your own ads or using click bots. Our Ad Traffic Quality Team looks for numerous types of activity that may inflate advertiser costs, then takes the necessary actions to protect our advertisers.

That said, we still find that many publishers are clicking on their own ads, possibly because they feel that Google is disregarding those clicks. Keep in mind that even though we filter the revenue from an invalid click, we don’t ignore it completely. If we detect significant invalid activity on your AdSense ads, we may take action on your account to protect our advertisers from inflated costs. Here are some examples of situations in which clicking your own ads is prohibited:

  • Clicking out of interest in the ad content
  • Clicking to see an ad’s destination URL, such as for filtering purposes (we recommend trying the AdSense Preview Tool, available at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=10005)
  • Clicking to ensure that Google is properly registering clicks on your ads (we log all ad clicks, but it can sometimes take up to 24 hours before your reports are finalized)
  • Clicking to test your website

For general invalid click questions, you can find more information at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/topic.py?topic=8426

For questions about AdSense accounts disabled for invalid clicks, you can find more information at https://www.google.com/adsense/support/bin/answer.py?answer=57153.

Thanks to the team at AdSense team for providing this information.

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. Luckily I check my AdSense earnings twice a day so if there are any suspicious activities, I should know about it.

    Hate it when someone decided to click your ads in frenzy mode and then Google thought that you did it on purpose..

  2. Hi Darren,

    Thanks – this is really a concise guide… Very comprehensive.

    I personally do not buy traffic, and reply on good organic search results for traffic. So, thankfully, no issues there!

    Thanks again.

  3. It has also been good on Google’s part that If they find that a publisher is not at fault or is unaware of where the fraudulent clicks are arising from, They activate his/her account even after banning him temporarily for 2-3 days!

  4. SEOidiot says:

    In my opinion Darren this is all hot air on G’s part. They have closed at least two of my accounts for click fraud and despite me providing evidence down to the IP on the user (who I couldnt identify other than IP) who had made multiple clicks they still closed the account.

    Their appeal system is a joke and they have taken over £9,000 from me through no fault of mine.

  5. Hmm. I didn’t realize that you could do channels by source – and I’m not immediately figuring out how to do that.

    Alternately, Google Analytics now shows stats for Adsense. You can drill down by referrer to get CTR and such for each referrer.

    Some of the ads can be interesting :) The Civony ads from a month or so ago, in particular! I tried out the game (not by clicking on my ads, of course) because of the allure of the ad …

  6. 1. Don’t buy traffic.
    2. Don’t use any other tracking tools other than Adsense and analytics.

    It’s that simple? The buzz that is being generated is usually from small publishers who I think don’t spend money to buy traffic. 3rd party tools is something they might do.

    But, really are these the only 2 reasons?

  7. Mr. I says:

    Not using other Tracking tools?
    Well, I need to improve here. I use OpenX ad server to keep track of all my ads and rotate them.
    As far as I know, URLs are not altered and developers say that they use Javascript to track clicks. Will have to think!

  8. Beth Parker says:

    How do you set up a channel for a traffic source? I guess you could do it with a URL channel if you use some sort of tracking ID in your URLs, but I don’t know how to put tracking IDs into my URLs. But that is assuming you have some control over how other people link to you. That might be true for paid traffic, but it’s not true of organic links.

    If Google wants us to set up channels for anything and everything, they really need to remove the limits on channels. I think the limit is around 200, and that is not nearly enough. The channels would be a whole lot more useful if they were unlimited.

  9. Salman says:

    Hi Darren
    Awesome post
    If I had known your blog 3-4 ago then I would have learn’t everthing about adsense

    Regards
    Salman
    http://www.tips4blogging.co.cc

  10. Erik says:

    Although the above is helpfull, it is nothing new. Basically the problem is still with the publisher and the causes of being banned are still blurred, especially where it regards invalid clicks.

    It is the perception of many publishers that they can be banned for no apparant reason. As far as I know we do not even know if these people are worried with a reason or whether it is an irrational fear. A good step of Google Adsense could be to help publisers feel confident with the system.

    Maybe the following could be helpfull.

    If a website breaks the rules, stop showing ads for some time (only on the problem website) and provide feedback to the publisher so that he/she can fix the problem.

    Depending on the number of times the guidelines have been broken and the severity the program could be less lenient eventually leading to a ban.

    Maybe it would be possible to provide publishers with some kind or ranking completed with a three strikes – out type of judgment.

    IN a perfect world, only the people knowingly breaking the guidelines should be punished. Many of the others are just trying to make a living and unaware of problems, expecially regarding invalid clicks. the only thing needed here is some kind of active feedback teaching publishers to maximize value for advertisers.

  11. Kurt Avish says:

    Good article Darren but these are just the widely known basic steps. You did not gave any real method to monitor and prevent in my opinion.

  12. Zemalf says:

    Darren, nice to see that your hotline to the big G is up, running and operational :) Superb idea to turn the answer into a post, which resulted into great info straight from “source”. Thanks!

  13. I think, it really depends on Big G to keep or Kick. However, its better to take prevention then to be totally ripped off.

    I will implement all above strategies to prevent such clicks which can get me in trouble at Google.

    5++ to your post :)

  14. Evan says:

    Hey Darren,

    Helpful article. Me and my business partners were just about to start using adword to promote our site so this article helped let me know what to do and not do. As an expert on blogging I was wondering around how much money you suggest for a new blog to invest into ad word. Is there any rule you use with your own adword investing that you can share? Thanks for all the advice for new bloggers like myself.

  15. Mikes says:

    In BlogCatalog, I always receive requests about exchanging $$ by clicking on ads. these people even ask you to make sure that I delete their messages. I think it’s so pathetic. Yes, I won’t be hypocrite I was tempted before but not now. Especially with all these information I might get slapped by google itself. Thanks darren for great information about AdSense.

  16. Melanie says:

    Hmmm…. I didn’t even know that it was possible to buy traffic. How does that work?

  17. Julius says:

    Thank you for this nice information. I’ve been using Adsense for only a couple of months and this article is bound to be useful for me as well as informative.

    Thanks!

  18. DrOTN says:

    Thanks Darren.

    It’s give me a truly information about invalid clicks, since some references said that banned by google adsense is just alike waiting our destination, since we can’t put in order clicks in our site.

    In my point of view, I made a simple summary (please correct me if I am wrong), that We shall read and understand the adsense’s TOS, and whenever We got some “strange in our account”, i.e clicks… we shall contact adsense’s support to make some investigation. Hopefully, Adsense team won’t ban our account because of the such strange clicks (invalid clicks).

    Regards.

  19. Darren,

    It is very clear that you not supposed to click on ads posted on your blog,
    and it is easy to follow that. But how about invalid ads impressions ?
    If you are active blogger – posting daily, reviewing comments and writing
    answers – it will be generated a lot of ads impressions daily from the
    same IP address.
    I am sure you had talked or disscussed with AdSense team about such situation.
    would be interesting to hear their point of view about it as I
    couldn’t find clear answer at adsense help site.
    Thanks

  20. Hi, good post. I have been wondering about this issue,so thanks for posting. I’ll definitely be coming back to your site.

  21. Mary (MPJ) says:

    As a small publisher who was banned by Google for (in my opinion) just not being tech savvy, I’m with Erik. I did not buy traffic nor did I ever click on my ads, but I was new to blogging, didn’t have Google Analytics set up at the time and couldn’t make much of a case for myself. I would love it if Google would have provided with a warning and some guidance like this before cutting me off for life with no explanation.

  22. Hi, Darren!
    Awesome post! Thanks.
    If I had known your blog 3-4 months ago then I would have learn’t everthing about adsense

    Best Regards, Joe!

  23. Michael says:

    I totally agree – do not buy traffic for sites where you are running AdSense.

    It is just NOT worth the risk, and there are just way too many fun ways to get natural traffic.

  24. ITrush says:

    Very interesting and helpful post .. thanks for the links Darren.

  25. fas says:

    If some reader goes on a clicking spree you really cant do much!

  26. good post but I’m still not sure how I can protect my site from unwanted clicks

  27. marl says:

    i’m really disappointed with my google earnings, only penny’s. i know i’m not the only one.

    Thanks for the information and tips that you have provided in this post.

  28. Good luck Darren, I think you will make these projects into a success also!

  29. Thank you Darren! Great post! I always endeavour to get
    more and more FREE traffic, and to consider and evaluate tactics for doing that!

  30. Geeee! That was a good one.Would save a lot here, from unwanted trouble.

  31. Dean Saliba says:

    I check my stats daily so contact Google if I see any weird click activity.

  32. UK traveller says:

    I was recently ‘clicked bombed’ by some bot so I reported it to Adsense and took off my Ads (for the time being). I guess I have done it the best way possible.

  33. As far as I know, URLs are not altered and developers say that they use Javascript to track clicks. Will have to think!

  34. Tracy says:

    I had a spike in traffic the other after a year of nothing (thanks to something of mine getting posted on fark. Google got suspecious and suspended my account immediately.

    My big break resulted into me losing everything :(

  35. Shelly says:

    I wish I had read this about a week ago when fraudulent clicks started on my account. I am definitely a relatively new blogger with a quickly growing blog. Now I have been disabled, and I was just ready to receive my first payout. I agree that Google should give one warning or more information about what to do about fraudulent clicks. I simply did not realize there was a report to fill out. A mistake that cost me at least $120, and my only revenue on my blog.

  36. I had a spike in traffic the other after a year of nothing (thanks to something of mine getting posted on fark. Google got suspecious and suspended my account immediately.

    My big break resulted into me losing everything :(

  37. Fakhrul Alam says:

    You are 100% true about Google Adsense and it’s great that Google are helping publisher and telling them What to Avoid for Google Adsense Business.

    Very Useful Article, Thanks Darren.

    Alam