The Definitive Guide to PPC Click Fraud

Stop PPC Click Fraud
Planned Update: Detailed instructions for blocking PPC Click Fraud with one click from your Piwik visitor log via the Adwords API.

This article summarizes everything I’ve learned since uncovering the rampant click fraud in my Adwords account. I estimate at least 40% of the clicks in my industry at this point are blatantly fraudulent and Google simply isn’t doing enough about their rampant PPC click fraud problem.

Are you a victim of PPC click fraud? I sure was. Speaking with an Adwords representative last week I was told they’ve never seen an account with so much click fraud. Tens of thousands of dollars lost. If you advertise with PPC then you too are a victim of click fraud, it is simply the nature of the beast. According to my Google representative some industries are more prone to click fraud than others. Mortgage is one of the worst.

How can you tell which clicks from your Adwords and Bing Ads accounts are fraudulent? Quoting one marketing cliche, you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Spambots Use VPNs to Hide Their Identity

The techniques described in this article outline recognizing spambots by the VPNs they use to hide their identity. What is a spambot? They are mostly automated software programs used to target keywords and click the ads that show up in Google and Bing. Why would people do this? Dishonest advertisers click on their competitor’s to drain their advertising budgets and drive up their costs. Hopefully there is a special place in hell for these people. Spambots use VPNS to mask their IP addresses and can manipulate other things used to track visitors like browser user agent and display resolution. Fortunately these spambots all utilize VPN connections which are very easy to recognize in your web analytics. If you’re not already familiar with how VPNs work this article is worth a read.

Is Google Analytics Up To The Challenge?

Google Analytics is the defacto leader when it comes to the analytics space. It’s big. It’s bloated. It’s customizable.

Should you use Google Analytics? Probably. Especially if you need pretty charts and graphs for your company’s decision makers. Should you use Goggle Analytics to track your PPC Campaigns for click fraud? Absolutely and unequivocally not…

I’m sure there are arguments that Google Analytics can do everything we need it to do to find and root out click fraud; however, do you really want to give the fox a key to your hen house? Google treats advertisers like petulant, misbehaving school children. They’ve hobbled Google Analytics simply to control information that takes any competitive advantage you could gain from web analytics out of your hands. Google claims it’s done in the name of privacy, which is convenient when it makes them money. Not so convenient for the little guy trying to carve out a living in the online mortgage niche.

Enter Piwik Web Analytics

Fortunately for all the small budget PPC advertisers of the world there is a fully featured analytics package that does everything needed. Best of all, your data is not controlled by Google. What happened to don’t be evil Larry and Sergey?

Piwik (pronounced pee-wick) is a full-featured, open-source analytics package perfectly suited for tracking your PPC advertising.

piwik--dashboard

It’s a little bit of work to set up and configure but I’ll walk you through the basics.

How to Configure Piwik for Identifying PPC Click Fraud

Many hosting platforms offer Piwik analytics as a one-click install so you might want to check if this is an option from Softaculous and Installation. Check with your web host as they might be able to install it for you.

Piwik boasts a 5-minute install and isn’t difficult once you’ve uploaded files and configured the database. Detailed instructions including videos are available on the Piwik website.

https://piwik.org/docs/installation/#the-5-minute-piwik-installation

Next: How to Modify Piwik for Detecting Click Fraud

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  1. […] Blocking unwanted VPN traffic is labor intensive and requires monitoring a proper analytics package on a daily basis however, it can be managed effectively and at little cost. Detailed instructions can be found here: Definitive Guide to PPC Click Fraud. […]

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