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Click Fraud

Click fraud is the single biggest con to pay per click advertising, and can be a problem even when using the big PPC search engines.  Spot click fraud early with your pay per click search marketing. Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search all have click fraud detection.

What is click fraud?

Click fraud, or invalid clicking, occurs when a person or computer script or program clicks on a pay per click ad with no intention of buying anything from the website. Sometimes this is done to harm the business, while at other times it is used as an unscrupulous way to make money. No one knows exactly how common click fraud is, but it is a problem for advertisers and legitimate pay per click search engines and websites. In many countries, including the United States, click fraud is considered a serious crime, and may even be prosecuted as a felony.

How does click fraud happen?

Click fraud can happen in several ways.

  • A competitor may personally click on an ad or create a bot or script to click on the ad, draining their competitor's advertising budget.
  • A search engine's affiliate may be an unscrupulous website where the web master sets up recycled pay per click ads and pays people to click on them, generating an income for him or herself every time someone clicks, but defrauding the advertisers.
  • People trying to make a pay per click search engine or website look bad will sometimes commit click fraud on that search engine or website.
  • Some people commit click fraud or create programs that commit click fraud for no apparent reason, or just to see if they can.

Who is susceptible to click fraud?

Anyone can be the victim of click fraud, though an ad is more likely to be targeted if it is one of the top ranked ads in a competitive search category, or if it is recycled to a search engine's affiliate websites.

How can I fight click fraud?

Though legitimate pay per click search engines and websites try to prevent click fraud, there is a limit to what they are able to do, so you also have to be careful. Watch for clicks that don't make sense, like those coming from foreign countries if you have a domestic audience, or lots of clicks from the same affiliate website when none of the people who click stay at your site for more than a few seconds. You will have to take your concerns to your pay per click provider to address the problem.

Related Article: Avoiding Click Fraud >>

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