Is Click Fraud Damaging Your Paid Search Campaign?

Computer2A lot of businesses depend on paid search management campaigns and other sponsored advertisements to increase their online sales. Depending on how competitive the keywords they select are and the marketing budget the business has, Paid Search can take up a significant percentage of their marketing budget.

If you want your online marketing campaign to be as effective as possible, it is important to make sure that your campaign is effectively reaching customers, your click price is at a respectable value, and that your campaign isn’t subjected to Click Fraud – a form of online vandalism that could be costing businesses money.

As you know, when you choose paid search keywords or sponsored ads, the amount of money you pay to have these advertisements depends entirely on how many times a user clicks on your link in a special part of a search results page on a search engine and goes to your site. What a lot of people don’t know is that there are programs available that are designed to waste your company’s paid search management resources. Once these programs are activated, they will continuously click on your company’s sponsored links until you reach the designated limit that you have set for that keyword.

Why Does This Happen?

One of the reasons people would implement this type of tactic has to do with the design of the advertisements themselves. Every day, you set a specified budget on how much you want to spend on keywords for Paid Search advertisements. After your budget is reached, your advertisement will be taken down and replaced by another one automatically. Your competitors could be using Click Fraud programs to have your ads taken down so that theirs can be put up.

Also, they could be trying to exhaust your marketing resources by having you spend more money on Paid Search then you should. Click Fraud has become so intricate that the programs that do this could be in use without the online users even knowing it. Hackers have been able to implement Click Fraud programs in people’s computers through viruses and adware, which will automatically click sponsored ads featured on search engines without the user ever being aware of the transaction.

How to Tell If You’re Being Targeted

If you want to protect your Paid Search campaign from Click Fraud, there are a couple things you can do. First of all, the major search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing realize that this is a problem and are always trying to develop new technology that can detect this type of fraud, but as a responsible business owner, you need to constantly monitor your account for any suspicious activity: Watch for spikes or dramatic increases of clicks for any of the keywords that you have sponsored ads for. Keep records of your trends, so that you know what is normal. A gradual incline is nothing to be suspicious of, but unless you have made a new product or service available or you raised the aggressiveness of your campaign, a sudden rise in clicks could mean Click Fraud.

Another dead giveaway that you have been subjected to Click Fraud is if you see a large amount of clicks coming from one specific IP address or location. This is probably the easiest way to detect it. For example: if you are a local construction company based out of Cincinnati and you are getting a lot of clicks on your Paid Search campaign from Dubai, chances are Click Fraud is probably to blame.

Your conversion rate and the average amount of time visitors spend on your site could also clue you in that your Paid Search advertisements might be in trouble. If visitors that are coming to your site are only spending a couple of seconds on your landing page, this could be a sign of Click Fraud. They’ll click your advertisement and then quickly return to the search results page where it was listed and click it again and again. This back and forth motion is called a “Bounce Rate.” If your Bounce Rate is unusually high, be aware.

Take Action

The important thing to remember is that if you notice anything suspicious with your Paid Search campaign, notify the search engine as soon as you can. The sooner you let them know, the sooner they can investigate it and correct it. Keep your marketing funds protected; keep a close watch over your campaign.

For more information about Paid Search, click here.

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