December 20, 2014

Google Increases Transparency Around Click Fraud

For a small business owner, displaying targeted Google ads on their website has become a powerful way to earn additional revenue. However, AdSense can go from best friend to complicated enemy pretty quick when SMBs start receiving notification their account has been suspended or banned due to reported click fraud. For those new to the AdSense world and who don’t understand what click fraud is or how to correct it, these reports are incredibly frustrated and frightening.

But relief is coming.

First, if you’re not familiar, the term click fraud refers to manufactured clicks designed to inflate an advertiser’s cost or a publisher’s earning. For example, if a publisher recruits his friends and family to repeatedly click on your ad on his site not because of interest, but to raise your costs, that would be deemed an example click fraud. There are many, many other ways click fraud can take place like the creation of click farms, automated tools, and other deceptive practices. This is the war Google is currently fighting.

However, even Google realizes that sometimes click fraud isn’t intentional. And as such, they’re announcing new ways of handling reports of click fraud to make the ecosystem more transparent and friendlier for us nice guys.

The new policy was announced in a post on the Google AdSense blog. In the post Google acknowledged that sometimes well-intentioned business owners find their accounts suspended and/or disabled for “invalid activity” without a clear understanding of why or how to fix it.

Google said:

While the vast majority of publishers who sign up for AdSense do so in good faith, unfortunately there are some bad actors out there. As you can imagine, we can’t reveal all the tools we use to keep bad sites and bad traffic out of our network. But sometimes these tools result in good publishers who become a source of invalid activity having their accounts disabled without much recourse.

To help good publishers, Google is announcing several changes.

First, Google will now consider tenure more actively when responding to detected invalid activity so that “trusted” publishers will see suspensions, instead of terminated accounts. There is also a new form to submit more informative appeals.

Google is also vowing to provide more details on invalid activity’s causes. When invalid clicks are detected, Google will send out emails and notifications with more information and instructions to help publishers understand what is happening.

Lastly, publishers can also take advantage of the expanded AdSense Academy, as well as a new video series that explains why policies exist and how publishers can make sure they’re working inside of them. The first looks specifically at invalid traffic.

For small business owners, the changes are designed to help you be a more informed AdSense customer and empower you to understand what is happening on your site or with your ads.

Below are some additional AdSense best practices to keep in mind:

Do: Use One Click Optimizer

One Click Optimizer is a great resource from Google designed to help you choose AdSense ad locations and formats for your website. If you’re just getting started, this is a great way to learn how the pros do it and what’s most successful.

Do NOT: Have Too Many Ads

The maximum number of AdSense ads you can have on your website is three banner ads, three link ads, and two search box ads. Any more ads and Google will end up banning your account. And while you’d think it’d be hard to fit that many ads on your site to begin with, well, people try.

When thinking about the number of ads on your site, realize that more ads isn’t only a turn off for Google, it’s a turn off for users, as well. No one wants to land on a website and see it covered in ads. Find a balance that helps you earn additional revenue, without sacrificing the authority and professionalism of your site.

Do: Match Ad Colors To Your Website

Ads customized to the look and feel of your site will perform better than ads that do not look integrated. To integrate your ads, make the background and borders of your ads the same color as the background of your page where the ad will be placed.

Three techniques to consider:

  • Blending: Make the background and borders of your ads the same color as the background of your page where the ad is placed.
  • Complementing Colors: Use colors that already exist on your site, but don’t match the background and borders exactly where the ads are placed.
  • Using Contrast: Choose colors that stand out against the background of your site.

Do NOT: Promote Prohibited Content

Do not include or link to the following content:

  • Adult content
  • Copyrighted material
  • Drug, alcohol, and tobacco-related content
  • Gambling content
  • Violent content
  • Weapon-related content
  • Content that advocates against an individual, group, or organization
  • Hacking and cracking content
  • Sensitive content
  • Sites that offer compensation programs
  • Sites that use Google Brand features

Above are just a few tips to help SMBs get more from their AdSense activity. Are you currently using AdSense?

7 Comments ▼

Lisa Barone


Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

7 Reactions

  1. I’m glad they’re taking a more holistic approach and considering the history of the publisher. Google may be big, but the human touch is nice.

  2. It’s sad how some people are ruining it for the rest of us. I’ve been using AdSense on a few sites for a couple of years and managed to make some good money and never had any problems (touch wood!) but perhaps I’ve been lucky!

  3. Suleyman Mohammed Ahmed

    Until now I can’t to get or manage google AdSense into my google account so what can i do for these problems?

  4. Dynamic sites are completely at the mercy of their users when it comes to prohibited content. Keywords for adult content, words with double meanings that can be considered adult, references to products outside the mainstream are all things Google bans.

    Their policies leave a lot to be desired as well: Cancelling accounts for one violating keyword in 10000 searches. Refusal to provide clear explanation of ban reasons. Refusal to provide proactive keyword blacklists.

    Why they can’t suppress AdSense ads on offending pages themselves is still a mystery. They’re more than capable of suppressing ads when they don’t match anything, why not when they are posted on undesirable pages or using undesirable keyword searches?

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