How to Prevent Click Fraud on PPC Ads

Added 02.02.22

After investing serious time and effort into your marketing campaign, landing pages, and sales funnel, the last thing you want to discover is people have been clicking on your adverts repeatedly without ever intending to make a purchase.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertisers worldwide lose $5.8 billion each year to Click Fraud; this activity can not only impact the effectiveness of your online adverts but will chew through your search advertising budget at a rate of knots.

Prevent From Click Fraud

What is Click Fraud?

Every time someone chooses to click on one of your PPC ads, whether, on Google or another platform, you are charged a small fee. If you have created compelling, targeted ads paying this fee will be worth it because many of those clicks will turn into sales, subscribers or whatever your goal is.

However, people (or bots) may be defrauding you by clicking on your advert with no intention to buy anything or engage in any activities on your site, only looking to cost you money.

This malicious behaviour is known as Click Fraud, and if it happens to your business, those small fees quickly add up to a sizable expense.

On Google's mobile ad platform, the average conversion rate is 3.48 per cent; therefore, you should reasonably anticipate having three genuine customer interactions for every ten hits.

If you are confident in the quality and appropriateness of your PPC ads and keywords for your target audience and are getting high click volumes but negligible conversions, you could be a victim of "click fraud".

Left unmanaged Click Fraud can quickly eat up your daily ad budget and stop your ads from reaching your legitimate target audience.

Search engines are taking the issue of click fraud more seriously and have implemented methods to counteract it. However, click fraud is tough to detect, so it is still possible that people are clicking your advertising and draining your ad revenue.

The Two Main Click Fraudsters


1. Competitors

The world of online advertising can be cutthroat; with so many businesses vying for the top of search results, some unscrupulous operators may resort to click fraud to knock out their competition.

Their motives are simple; they want to ensure you are losing money on adverts that have no chance of converting, and secondly, they want to use up your daily ad spend early and quickly, so there is less competition when they run their ads later in the day.

The knock-on effect of these low-quality clicks can lower your ad score, meaning your ad gets displayed less often, and your Cost-Per-Click (CPC) goes up.


2. Publishers

Whereas competitors benefit from click fraud hurting your bottom line, the flipside of the coin are nefarious publishers who seek to help their bottom line by clicking your ad.

As long as you're running display ads (ads that show up on other third-party websites) on their site, the publisher gets a share of what you pay Google for each click.

Publishers make more money when more people click on the ads on their site. If this isn't happening organically, the publisher may try to bump up the numbers themselves.

Not every website is entirely trustworthy, and there have been several high-profile cases of ad fraud in recent years.

Identifying Click Fraud On Your Website

Data interpretation is a critical component of PPC success. Your PPC campaign can be improved by analysing the data search advertising platforms made available in your dashboard to determine whether your website is being affected by click fraud.

Ad fraud can be detected by looking at what happens after a user clicks on your ad and where those clicks originate.

To get started, gather the following information:

  • Computer Internet Protocol (IP) addresses.
  • Timestamps for clicks.
  • Timestamps for actions.
  • User-Agent string (UA) identifies the browser used, what version, and which operating system.

This information will assist you to detect high amounts of clicks that may be coming from the same person without ever resulting in any kind of activity.

If you spot a single IP address with many clicks but no action time stamp, this should raise suspicion. A website like can be used to find out where the click is coming from.

While sophisticated click fraudsters have developed ways of masking essential information, monitoring these data points can provide you with a sign of whether or not you are being specifically targeted.

If you have any doubts, you should submit a request to Google to investigate it further. The more familiar you become with PPC advertising, the easier it will be to notice when something isn't quite right with your stats and warrants digging a little deeper.

The Cost of Click Fraud

You have several advertising options, but you've settled on PPC because of the potential return on investment it provides. The problem is, if you're a victim of click fraud, you won't be getting your money's worth, and your competitors stand to gain financially as a result.

Having procedures to prevent click fraud is critical for Google and the other search engines because they want advertisers to continue utilising their platform without fear of "false" clicks.

You should do everything you can to prevent this from happening in your self-interest.

To get the most out of your ad spend and see conversions, you need to trust your campaign data, and this is why click fraud is a concern for many marketers.

When it comes to paid search and display advertising, digital marketing industry research indicates that between 11 per cent and 36 per cent of all ad clicks are fake.

This can equate to a costly waste of time and money to unaware search advertisers, so it is worth monitoring for click fraud regularly.

Steps for Preventing Click Fraud

Detecting click fraud can be challenging, but there are ways to guard against it. While there is no foolproof way to eliminate it, if you're aware of click fraud, you can minimise its influence.

To reduce the impact click fraud has on your PPC ads, here are some things you can do.

1. Use IP Exclusions in Google Ads

Using Google Ads, you can prevent particular IP addresses from clicking on your ads if you've checked your statistics and determined they're being used fraudulently.

IP Exclusions can be found in your Ads account's settings section. The IP addresses you've flagged as fraudulent will no longer see your adverts.

Click fraud can be challenging to detect, so while this can help block obvious offending IP addresses, some ad fraud operations are quite sophisticated and may use Click Farms, in which case there will not be a single IP address, but many, making it harder to spot.

2. Retarget Display Ads

There is a lot more risk of click fraud with display ads because there's also the risk of publisher click fraud, which isn't there with search ads.

One way to control how your display ads are shown is to focus on retargeting, which is when you opt to show your ads to people who have already shown interest in your company.

A great way to target your audience during different points in the customer journey is to use retargeting. Retargeting also makes it more difficult for people to click on your ads to make money from them.

If you select this option, ads are only shown to people who have been to your website before; therefore, there will be no way for the publisher to see your ads on their site, so they will not be able to click on them.

3. Concentrate on Localised Ad Targeting

Your ads will be more successful if they are more precisely targeted and will be less vulnerable to click fraud.

The majority of click farms are concentrated in low-income countries; therefore, one way to combat click fraud is to remove these countries and languages from your targeting to help reduce your potential exposure to them.

It's critical that you target your adverts to the people who are most likely to take action on them. Ads that target a narrower geographical area can not only be more effective but may also be more difficult to click on falsely.

When it comes to eliminating click fraud, there is no magic bullet, but effective PPC practices can help you increase your ROI while protecting your business against ad fraud.

4. Focus on Social Media Ads

Ads on social media are far less keyword-focused than paid search engine ads, making it considerably more difficult for people to find your ad by typing in a keyword.

Platforms like Facebook have a wealth of information on their users, allowing you to be highly targeted with the people you reach. This reduces the possibility of click fraud and allows you to get a higher return on your paid ads.

Unlike display ads, social media platforms do not have third-party owners, so publisher click fraud is eliminated, making your ads that much safer.


As a PPC advertiser, you may be affected by click fraud.

While it can be complicated to identify all ad fraudsters, you may receive a refund from Google and other search engines for the illicit hits if you manage to identify perpetrators or ad fraud activity.

Taking a proactive approach makes sure you get the most out of your PPC advertising budget. Perfecting PPC is all about the little details and knowing how to spot anomalies in the data.

A return on investment in a great PPC campaign is impossible if you keep having to pay out the bulk of your daily advertising budget on bogus clicks.

Zeemo can help set up your PPC advertising strategy to minimise exposure to click fraud and attract legitimate customers by creating high-converting landing pages and producing stellar ad copy; give our friendly team a call today.