How do Google know about invalid clicks?

Google AdSense Invalid Clicks
Invalid clicks AdSense

Google, it never fails to amaze me. If you think you’re smarter than Google then this article is especially for you.

As you have landed on this page I am pretty much sure that you were once struck by Google AdSense for Invalid Click Activity. If it isn’t the case then I pray God that you never fall for anything like that because once they disable your account, it is next to impossible to get it re-initiated.

These are a few points which I am going to cover in this article. With the help of these points, you can further increase your knowledge.

  1. What are invalid clicks?
  2. What is Click Bombing?
  3. How does Google detect invalid clicks in AdSense?
  4. What is Mouse Tracking Algorithm?
  5. Struck by Invalid Click Activity – How to get rid of it?
  6. Conclusion.

What are Invalid Clicks?

Invalid Clicks Google

Clicks on ads that Google considers to be illegitimate, such as unintentional clicks or clicks resulting from malicious software.

Here are just a few examples of what Google may consider to be invalid clicks:

  • Manual clicks intended to increase your advertising costs or to increase profits for website owners hosting your ads.
  • Clicks by automated clicking tools, robots, or other deceptive software.
  • Extraneous clicks that give no value to the advertiser, such as the second click of a double-click.
  • Each click on an AdWords ad is examined by our system, and Google has advanced systems to find invalid clicks and impressions and remove them from your account data.
  • When Google determines that clicks are invalid, we try to automatically filter them from your reports and payments so that you’re not charged for those clicks. If we find that invalid clicks have escaped automatic detection, you may be eligible to receive a credit for those clicks. These credits are called “invalid activity” adjustments.

What is Click Bombing?

Click Bombing on Google Ads

So first, what is Click bombing? Essentially, click bombing is when your AdSense ads get click MUCH more than normal.  For example, if a malicious user goes to your website and clicks on one of your AdSense ads 100 times – this would be click bombing.  This malicious user is trying to send tons of invalid clicks in hopes of getting your Google Adsense account banned.  This is a worst-case scenario.

The reality is that Google is very serious about invalid click activity.  The most common occurrence by far is when users either click their own ads a bunch of times or ask others to click as for them.  Google is smart.  They can detect this pretty easily and there is no faster way to get your account shut down.  So, don’t click bomb yourself!  Never EVER click your own ads.

How does Google detect invalid clicks in AdSense?

Google AdSense

The famous AdSense network is one of the most advanced ones of its kind. It must be, because every day, people are making invalid clicks or trying to commit click fraud to make money from it and to cheat the system. However, it is said that you’d have a better chance of making money by picking up pennies from the street than ever trying to cheat the Google AdSense system.

This article does only contain speculations on how Google detects click fraud or invalid clicks. Since I am not working for Google I can not know exactly, and I’m sure that they will never really tell anyone. So please leave a comment at the end if you think I am wrong or if you know another way that they might detect invalid clicks or click fraudsters.

Factors that Google takes into consideration are:

Google AdSense invalid clicks

1. IP Address

Google checks which IP address that the click is coming from. If it originates from the same IP address that before logged in to the AdSense account, then you’re probably committing click fraud. If the same IP address is constantly clicking ads on a website, then it might be either invalid clicks or click fraud.

2. Cookies

Most home users do not use static IP addresses, which means that they sometimes just have to disconnect and then reconnect in order to get a new one. However, if Google has implemented a cookie on your computer, simply getting a new IP address won’t help when you’re committing click fraud.

3. Click Through Rate (CTR)

A normal website does not go above a 10% CTR. It usually stays between 0.5% to 9%. If your website is getting a CTR above 10%, your website might get reviewed by an AdSense employee to check if you are doing anything against their terms. However, if you’re not breaking any terms, then you don’t have to worry.

4. Geo Location

Kind of like IP addresses. Google knows from where the clicks are originating and will most likely see a pattern if one comes up. Let’s say you’re smart enough to use different P addresses to commit click fraud, but you’re stupid enough to place all your computers in one town. Google analytics is one tool that can give you an idea how GEO-location targeting works.

5. MAC Address

Every computer has its “fingerprint” in terms of a MAC address. This address is put on your hardware instead of your software, so it never changes or goes away. It is possible that Google might track invalid click this way, but not very likely since they have more advanced ways.

6.  Advertiser Conversion Rate

The conversion rate of the advertisers is really important. If none of your clicks leads to a conversion, such as a sale, lead, newsletter sign-up or similar for the advertiser, then you are sending very poor traffic. At first, you might get hit by smart pricing, after that, you might get banned. A low conversion rate for advertisers can be the sing of click fraud or invalid clicks.

7. Traffic Consistency

If your website is bringing in bursts of traffic instead of a steady flow from search engines, then you might be in trouble. If Google detects that an unnatural amount of direct traffic is clicking on your ads then it might be marked as click fraud. If your website is not even indexed in the search engines yet but is still receiving a decent amount of clicks then something must be wrong, and AdSense is the first one to spot it.

8. Websites/Ads Layout

If your website is using a messed up layout that fools visitors into clicking your ads by disguising them as regular links or similar, then you are walking on thin ice. You are not allowed to cover or edit your ads, nor are you allowed to make them blend in too well with the rest of your content. By doing so you might be generating a lot of invalid clicks from people who didn’t know that they were actually clicking an ad. You are also not allowed to encourage ad click by saying things like “all the money generated through ads goes to people in need” or “click the ads!”.

9. Mouse Tracking Algorithm

Basically, they have designed many algorithms which can detect the invalid clicks but the most obvious algorithm which I know is the “Mouse Tracking Algorithm“.

If you are a legit reader you would first prefer to read the content or the article and then you might target the advertisements. It is very unlikely that a user opens a web page and clicks on the ads immediately. Even if he does, he won’t travel back and forth to click on the other ads.

The count can go to 1 or 2 or most to 3 to 4 ads but if it exceeds it comes into suspicion. This algorithm tracks your mouse cursor activity with various aspects such as the time spent on each web page, navigation between different web pages, bounce rate, etc.

How to get rid of Invalid Click activity?

Invalid Click Activity

There are ways you can help both yourself from getting banned as well as helping Google to prevent frauds. If you’re using WordPress as your website platform then there are plugins to prevent visitors of your website to click your ads too many times. There are also ways of hiding the ads from certain traffic types, such as from social bookmarking sites. I will not give any name of such a plug-in because, by the time you read this, the plugin might be out-dated.

Here are some tips to help you prevent invalid traffic on your ads:

  1. Understand your ad traffic and site visitors.
  2. Avoid partnering with untrusted / low-quality parties.
  3. Don’t click on your own ads, even if you think it’s okay to do so.
  4. Double- and triple-check your implementation.
  5. Use the authorized sites feature to prevent unauthorized use of your ad code.
  6. Consult AdSense help forum.


Invalid Clicks Conclusion

So, I must again say that I am not a Googler thus all the factors I have stated above might or might not be taken into action by Google AdSense. So, I cannot really assume that what type of parameters Google use to recognize an Invalid Click Activity.

I am a Professional Blogger and an aspiring Computer Scientist. The motto of my life is to “Think, Blink and Light” i.e. think before you write something to teach others.


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