Click Bombing – Google’s Dirty Little Secret

Every day, thousands of people join the growing collection of blogs and websites trying to earn income via Google Adsense. Unfortunately, rival websites and blogs are increasingly click bombing the Adsense accounts of their competition, forcing Google to shut down a user’s Adsense account and income.

What is Click Bombing?

When a user signs up for a Google Adsense account, they agree to the Adsense program policy, which clearly states “Publishers may not click their own ads or use any means to inflate impressions and/or clicks artificially, including manual methods”. Click bombing mimics this form of click fraud, making it appear as though an Adsense user is obtaining fraudulent ad clicks.

Who Click Bombed Me?

Most incidents fall into one of two categories. First and foremost, rival blogs and websites sometimes click bomb rivals to force the closure of the target’s Adsense account. Secondly, click bombing can be considered a form of random cyber vandalism, senselessly committed without concern for the attacked party. In either case, the consequences of being click bombed can be dire.

I’ve been Click Bombed. What are the Potential Consequences?

If not promptly caught and reported, this type of fraud can become quite a headache for the attacked blog or website. Typically, Google responds by suspending the click bombed party’s Adsense account and/or terminating their Adsense agreement with Google entirely. In extreme cases, serious repercussions can result for the attacked blog or website. If Google believes the Adsense account holder is indeed responsible for the fraudulent activity, and the instance of click fraud is serious, civil or criminal remedies may be sought in a court of law.

How do Click Bombers Impact Google?

Click bombing can have negative ramifications, not only for an Adsense account holder, but for Google as a company. In order for Adsense to be effective, Google must ensure its advertising partners are receiving clicks from browsers who are legitimately interested in their products. When click bombing occurs, Google refunds the revenue fraudulently generated by your Adsense account to the advertiser in question in order to maintain a reliable service. Although Google states that click bombing represents a relatively small portion of overall Adsense click fraud, it takes it very seriously, monitoring the service for suspicious click trends in order to protect its advertisers and Adsense members.

How can we Stop or Prevent Click Bombers?

Although Google uses software to monitor Adsense clicks and check for suspicious trends, the best way to ensure your blog or website is not click bombed is through your own personal vigilance. Always try to be aware of your average clicks per day, manually deactivating your Adsense account if you notice a significant, unexplainable increase in your daily clicks. If you believe your account has been click bombed, contact Google immediately via their invalid clicks contact form. If your adsense account continues to receive an unusually large number of clicks remove the ads immediately. Once other ads on your site are no long being click bombed, repost the ads in question. Repeat these steps as necessary.

Additional Options to Deter Click Bombers

In extreme cases, you may have to take more drastic actions to avoid being click bombed. One good option is the ‘Who Sees Ads’ plugin available on WordPress. Once installed, this plugin can limit the display of ads to visitors entering your website via search engines. Another popular WordPress plugin for the prevention of click bombing is ‘Ad Logger’. This plugin will monitor activity on your Adsense account, automatically removing ads receiving higher than usual clicks to prevent fraud. Last but not least, the ‘Clickbomb Protect’ plugin for WordPress monitors the IP addresses of visitors clicking on your Adsense advertisements, blocking clicks from IPs suspected of click bombers.

What do I do if Google Deactivates my Adsense Account, but I’m Innocent?

If you’ve been victimized by a click bomber, but your Adsense account was deactivated all the same, you likely failed to report the incident quickly enough. To report that you’ve been click bombed and potentially reactivate your account, you will have to fill out Google’s appeal form. Google will respond to you regardless of the outcome of your appeal. If your appeal is denied, Google reserves the right to refuse future appeals from your account. Furthermore, all earnings currently contained in your disabled account will be confiscated and returned to the effected advertisers. If Google concludes that you were involved in the fraud in question, you will be prohibited from using Adsense in the future.

Ultimately, a combination of personal vigilance and plugins is one’s best protection against click bombing. If you suspect click bombing, be sure to report it to Google as quickly as possible. If you fail to contact Google in time to prevent the deactivation of your Adsense account, simply fill out Google’s appeal form to initiate a dialogue to potentially reactivate your account.