As noted earlier, click fraud is becoming an increasingly difficult problem with PPC advertising. Don’t fall victim to the lure of participating in some click fraud scheme to increase your clickthrough rates. The results will be disastrous.
Click fraud is a crime. Just as you should avoid being victimized, you should avoid taking part in falsely inflating the number of click-throughs on PPC ads either for personal gain or simply as a way to harm competition.
Click fraud can be conducted in several ways. Competitors may click through your ads repeatedly to increase the number of click-throughs for which you are charged. Some advertisers have been billed for more than $100,000 in PPC costs because a competitor has arranged to have their PPC ads clicked repeatedly.
In an effort to insulate themselves from criminal charges, and to create as much havoc as possible, some advertisers will employ clickbots, or programs that search for and click on PPC links to drive up prices. These clickbots are usually automated and very often can’t be traced back to their “owners.”
Click fraud is also conducted by a program called Paid-to-Read (PTR). Underhanded businesses hire readers to read and click through PPC ads. Again, this can be costly, but even more worrisome is the fact that PTR schemes are difficult to track because multiple people using valid IP addresses are clicking through the ads. It’s much harder to track multiple individuals than to track a single individual using some repetitive activity or clickbots to commit click fraud.
Click fraud is monitored by watching the sources of PPC traffic. If a large number of clicks come from the same IP address, it’s obvious that fraud is being committed. Often, though, this isn’t the way it happens. Criminals use IP alternating software programs to click on ads. These clicks appear to come from legitimate site users.
Another indication of click fraud is if a number of ad clicks also seem to come from the same time frame (for example, 100 clicks over the course of 10 minutes). Monitoring traffic patterns is one way that anyone committing PPC may be caught.
In the past, anyone caught conducting click fraud schemes would receive what equaled a slap on the wrist. Today, however, many search engines are being made to answer for click fraud and the costs that PPC users are having to pay because of it, so those search engines are cracking down. If you get caught conducting a click-fraud scheme, you could face stout fines, and possibly even a criminal prosecution that could result in jail time.
Click fraud is a serious crime. Don’t be victimized—and don’t be tempted to do it yourself.