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How to Prevent Click Fraud on Your PPC Ads

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You’ve worked hard to perfect your ad campaign, create action-inducing landing pages, and win sales. Your ads have just gone live, but there’s one big problem: People are out there clicking your ads over and over with absolutely no intention of buying anything.

It sounds dramatic, but click fraud is something advertisers should be aware of (advertisers lose around $5.8 billion a year globally), and it can make a difference to the success of your ads.

What Is Click Fraud?

When you run a PPC ad on Google or any other platform, you pay every time someone clicks your ad. If you’re doing your job well, you should expect a good number of those clicks to convert into a sale (or whatever your goal is).

For mobile ads on Google, the average conversion rate is 3.48 percent, so you might reasonably expect to make three sales for every ten clicks you get. What happens if people start clicking your ad with absolutely no intention of making a purchase or engaging with your site, though?

This is what’s known as click fraud, and it can be a problem for advertisers.

If people (or bots) are fraudulently clicking on your ads, then it can mean you’re paying for clicks that aren’t real. This can use up your daily ad spend, meaning you never reach your target audience with your message.

Surely Google and the other search engines can’t let this happen?

Click fraud is something the search engines have begun to take more seriously, and they have put systems in place to combat it. The problem is click fraud is very difficult to spot, so it’s not a perfect science, and it’s still possible people are out there clicking your ads and using up your ad budget.

Types of Click Fraud

Click fraud is very simple: Someone clicks on your PPC ads with the intention of costing you money. Why are people doing this and what’s in it for them?

There are two main types of click fraud.

Click Fraud by Competitors

Wouldn’t it be great if your competitors spent a whole load of money on something and got nothing in return?

Of course, we wouldn’t mind if this happened, but some companies and individuals are taking things a step further by ensuring this happens.

Your competitors stand to gain from fraudulently clicking your ads in two ways.

Firstly, it means you’re paying for clicks that have no chance of converting, and secondly, it means you’re blowing your daily ad spend much more quickly. This means there’s less competition for when they run their ads later in the day.

These low-quality clicks may also impact your ad score, meaning your ad gets shown less often and your CPC goes up.

Click Fraud by Publishers

Your competitors benefit from click fraud by hurting you, but there’s also another player in this equation who stands to benefit directly from clicking your ad: the publisher.

If you’re running display ads (ads on third-party websites), then the publisher gets paid a percentage of what you pay Google for each click. More clicks on your ads equals more revenue for the publisher.

How to Prevent Click Fraud - Example of display ads; an element that can result in click fraud

Not every website out there is perfectly trustworthy, and there have been some stories of ad fraud on a big scale in recent years.

How to Tell If Click Fraud Is Affecting Your Website

A big part of being successful with PPC is being able to interpret data. This is how you fine-tune your PPC strategy and it’s also a way of figuring out if click fraud is affecting your website.

To tell if you’re experiencing ad fraud, you need to see what’s happening once people click your ad, and where those clicks are coming from. To do this, you need to collect:

  • IP addresses
  • click time stamps
  • action time stamps
  • user-agent

This information will help you to identify large numbers of clicks that might be coming from the same person without ever leading to action.

If you see lots of clicks from the same IP address, where there’s a click time stamp, but no action time stamp, then it might raise some suspicion. You can then check the IP address on a website like www.whatismyip.com to see where that click is coming from.

While people who are carrying out sophisticated click fraud have ways of hiding important information, this can give you a clue as to whether you’re being targeted.

If you do have suspicions, then it’s always worth contacting Google and reporting the issue so they can look into it further. As always, the clues are in the data, so if you’re experienced with PPC and something seems off with your numbers, then it’s always worth investigating.

Why It’s Important to Eliminate Click Fraud

You’ve got many options when it comes to advertising and you’ve chosen PPC because it offers you a certain ROI. But if you’re suffering from click fraud, then you’re not going to see the return on your investment.

What’s worse is that your competitors (whether it’s them carrying out the click fraud or not) are likely benefiting.

It’s important Google and the other search engines have mechanisms in place to stop click fraud because they want advertisers to keep using their platform without having to worry about “fake” clicks. You’re the one who’s taking the hit for this, so it’s in your interest to make sure it’s not happening.

You need to trust your campaign data to make the most of your ad spend and see conversions, and this is why click fraud is a consideration for many advertisers. According to PPC Protect, 11 percent of all paid search clicks and 36 percent of display ads clicks are fraudulent, so it’s not something to ignore.

5 Steps to Prevent Click Fraud

Click fraud can be difficult to detect, but there are some steps you can take to help prevent it. There’s no surefire way of eliminating click fraud, but if you’re conscious of it, then you can limit its impact.

Here are five steps you can take to limit the impact of click fraud on your PPC ads.

1.Set Up IP Exclusions in Google Ads

If you’ve been through your data and decided that certain IP addresses are clicking your ads fraudulently, then you can block them through Google Ads. This will mean your ads aren’t shown to the IP addresses you’ve identified as fraudulent.

In your Ads account, go to the settings tab and choose IP exclusions.

This might be a way to spot some click fraud on your ads, but some of these operations are quite sophisticated, so it’s not a fool-proof method.

2. Think About How You Run Display Ads

According to PPC Protect, display ads are much more susceptible to click fraud. This makes sense because you’ve got the added element of publisher click fraud, which isn’t present with search ads.

You have control over how your display ads are shown, though, and one option is to focus on retargeting.

If you’re running retargeting ads, then they’re only visible to people who have visited your website in the past. This means the publisher won’t be able to see your ads on their site and isn’t able to keep clicking them.

Retargeting is an excellent way of targeting your audience at different stages of the customer journey, and it also has the added bonus of making it more difficult to click your ads fraudulently.

3. Concentrate on Ad Targeting

The more targeted your ads are, the more successful they’re likely to be. It’s also likely to make them less susceptible to click fraud.

Many of the click farms are concentrated in specific locations (generally low-income countries), so you might limit your risk by excluding these countries (and languages) from your targeting.

You want to get your ads in front of people who will take action, so it’s important you’re targeting your ads toward your audience. Not only might focusing your attention on a smaller geographic area make your ads more effective, but it might make it more difficult for people to click them fraudulently.

Again, this isn’t a science, and it’s very difficult to stop click fraud completely (if Google could, it would), but by following good PPC steps, you can improve your ROI while protecting yourself at the same time.

4. Focus on Social Media Ads

Social media ads are much less keyword-based than paid ads on search engines. This makes it much more difficult for people to type in a keyword and see your ad.

Platforms like Facebook have so much information on their users, which means it’s possible to be very targeted with the people you reach. This reduces the chance of click fraud and allows you to get a better return on your paid ads.

Unlike with display ads, social media platforms don’t have third-party owners either, so this eliminates publisher click fraud, making your ads that little bit safer.

5. Use Click Fraud Protection Software

There are lots of different providers of click fraud protection services. Companies such as ClickCease, Oracle, CHEQ, and PPC Shield monitor your ads using algorithms to detect fraud, quarantining fraudulent clicks.

These solutions tend to cost around $50 a month for a basic package and can save you money.

Whether you choose to invest in this kind of protection will depend on the scale of your PPC campaigns and if you think you’re suffering from click fraud. The nice thing is if these platforms work, then you should quickly start to see the results in your data.

You’re not tied in to anything, so it’s worth testing these out and seeing if they make a difference for your campaigns.

tldr; How to Prevent Click Fraud

There are some simple steps you can take to prevent click fraud. This is a complicated issue and no fix is a magic bullet, but these steps can help you spot click fraud on your ads and limit its impact on your PPC.

  1. Set up IP exclusions on Google Ads

    If you’ve analyzed your data and believe certain IP addresses to be fraudulently clicking your ads, then you can add them to an exclusion list in Google Ads.

  2. Think about how you run display ads

    A big part of click fraud is publishers clicking on your ads on their website. If you focus on retargeting with your display ads, then publishers are less likely to see your ads.

  3. Concentrate on ad targeting

    Focus on your target audiences and tighten your net as much as possible. The more people your ad gets shown to outside of your target audience, the more it’s likely to grab the attention of fraudsters.

  4. Consider social media ads

    Social media ads on platforms like Facebook and Instagram are less keyword-focused, meaning they’re harder to search for. With intelligent targeting, these platforms still give you bang for your buck, they’re just harder for fraudsters to find.

  5. Use click fraud protection software

    If you believe click fraud is costing you big money, then it makes sense to invest in protecting your ads. Keep an eye on your analytics and evaluate whether protection software improves your ROAS.

Conclusion

Click fraud is a complicated issue that could be affecting your PPC ads.

While Google and the other search engines are taking action to prevent click fraud and refund you for illegitimate clicks, it’s not a perfect science. This is why it’s sometimes worth taking a proactive approach to ensure you’re getting the most out of your PPC.

PPC is all about fine margins. When you’re paying for every click, you need to make sales to see a return on your investment, but if you keep getting fraudulent clicks, then this just isn’t possible.

You’re putting a ton of effort into creating high-converting landing pages and writing amazing ad copy, so it might be time to start protecting that investment.

What’s your approach to click fraud?

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This unused Star Wars poster could have ruined everything

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This unused Star Wars poster could have ruined everything

A recent unused poster design for 1977’s Star Wars has surfaced and reveals just when you think you’ve seen it all around this iconic movie, there’s always something new to talk about. Particularly as this rare and unused Star War movie poster art was so bad it could have ruined the franchise before it even launched.

The unused Star Wars poster from 1977 was posted on Twitter by film nerd’ account The Spaceshipper and many fans of the franchise were thankful it was never used. While some recent film posters, like new Ant-Man 3 posters that are a Photoshop nightmare, this rare Star Wars poster is bad on so many levels – it’s a graphic design fail, the slogan makes no sense and there’s little to engage with.

Star Wars film posters have been some of the best ever designed, from legendary artists such as the Hidlebrandt Brothers who painted the original 1977 poster that was used. Iconic poster artists have also designed for the franchise; the Drew Struzan Star Wars poster for The Force Awakens impresses and Hugh Flemming revealed all in our feature ‘the secrets of a top Star Wars artist’.

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How to Manage Your Online Brand?

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You might be asking yourself, “Why do I need to manage my online brand?” It’s a valid question, especially if you’re not sure what managing your online brand means precisely.

In short, managing your online brand is the process of taking control of how others see you and your business online. This can involve creating and maintaining a strong presence on social media, developing positive reviews and testimonials, and monitoring your web analytics to track progress.

By taking the time to manage your online brand, you can improve your chances of success in today’s digital age.

In this article, we’ll explore some key reasons why managing your online brand is essential.

What is an online brand, and why do you need one?

Your online brand is the way you are perceived by others online. This includes your website, social media profiles, online reviews, and all other digital real estate that represents you when someone searches for you or your business.

It’s important to have one because it helps your potential customers get to know, trust, and like you before they buy anything from you. A strong online brand can also help you attract new customers and grow your business.

It’s good to remember that your online brand is the first thing people will see when they search for you, so it’s important to make sure it represents you and your business well.

How to manage your online brand for success?

Your online brand is your reputation. It’s how people perceive you when they see your name, read your work, or interact with you online.

A strong online brand can help you attract new clients, collaborators, and opportunities. But how do you create and manage your brand for success?

1) Consider what you want your online brand to convey.

Are you an expert in a certain field? A thought leader? A creative visionary?

Once you know what you want your brand to communicate, be consistent in everything you do online.

Use the same name, photo, and bio across all of your social media platforms. Post regularly about topics related to your brand, and make sure the tone of your posts is consistent with the image you’re trying to convey.

2) Interact with other people online in a way that reinforces your brand.

When someone mentions you in a post, thank them publicly. If someone leaves a negative comment on one of your posts, don’t delete it – instead, respond politely and professionally.

By managing your online brand thoughtfully and proactively, you can set yourself up for success both online and offline.

3) Monitor your web analytics to track your progress.

Use Google Analytics or another web analytics tool to track how people are finding you online and what they’re doing on your website. This data can give you insights into what’s working well and what needs improvement.

For example, if you see that most of your website visitors are coming from Facebook, you might want to focus on creating more engaging content for that platform.

Or, if you notice that people are spending a lot of time on your blog but not your sales page, you might need to work on driving traffic to your products or services.

4) Make sure your website represents your brand well.

Your website is often the first thing people will see when they search for you online, so it’s important to make sure it’s up-to-date and represents your brand well.

Update your website regularly with new blog posts, photos, and products. Use attractive visuals, easy-to-navigate menus, and clear calls to action.

If you’re not sure how to create a website that represents your brand well, consider working with a web designer or developer.

5) Pay attention to your social media presence.

Social media is a powerful tool for managing your online brand. Use it to connect with your audience, share your work, and promote your products or services.

Be sure to post regularly, interact with others, and use hashtags and keywords that will help people find you. You can also use social media ads to reach a wider audience or promote specific products or services.

6) Monitor your online reputation.

Use Google Alerts or another tool to monitor your online reputation. This will help you stay on top of what people are saying about you online and take action if necessary.

For example, if you see a negative review of your business, you can reach out to the customer directly to try to resolve the issue. Or, if you see someone spreading misinformation about your work, you can correct it.

7) Manage your online brand proactively.

The best way to manage your online brand is to be proactive. Be thoughtful about everything you do online, from the content you post to the way you interact with others. By taking control of your online presence, you can set yourself up for success both professionally and personally.

By following these tips, you can create and manage an online brand that will help you achieve your goals.

The benefits of having a strong online brand

Let’s look at a few benefits of having a strong online brand:

1) Stand out from the competition.

With so much noise online, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. But if you create a well-defined brand, you’ll be better able to cut through the clutter and attract attention.

2) Build trust and credibility.

A strong online brand can help you build trust and credibility with your audience. If people know what to expect from you, they’re more likely to trust and respect you.

3) Connect with your audience.

By definition, a brand is a way of differentiating yourself from others. But it’s also a way of connecting with your audience on a deeper level. When done well, branding can create an emotional connection between you and your audience.

4) Drive traffic and sales.

A strong online brand can help you drive traffic and sales. If people are familiar with your brand, they’re more likely to buy from you. And if they trust and respect you, they’re more likely to tell others about you.

5) Increase your visibility.

A well-managed online brand will increase your visibility online. When people search for you or your business, you’ll be more likely to show up in the search results. And when people see you frequently in their feeds, you’ll be more likely to stay top of mind.

6) Attract media attention.

A strong online brand can help you attract media attention. If you’re known for something specific, journalists and bloggers will be more likely to write about you. This can help increase your visibility and reach even further.

7) Enhance your career prospects.

Your online brand can have a big impact on your career prospects. If you’re looking for a new job, employers will likely research you online. And if you’re an entrepreneur, investors will want to know more about your brand before they invest in your business.

8) Make a positive impact.

Finally, a strong online brand can help you make a positive impact in the world. If you’re passionate about something, you can use your platform to raise awareness and advocate for change.

The importance of staying consistent with your branding strategy

As you can see, there are many benefits to having a strong online brand. But it’s not enough to just create a brand—you also need to be consistent with your branding strategy.

When it comes to branding, consistency is essential. Your audience needs to know what to expect from you, and they need to see that you’re consistent in your messaging and your visuals.

Here are a few pointers if you’re not sure how to stay consistent with your branding:

1) Define your brand.

The first step to being consistent with your branding is to define your brand. What do you want people to think of when they see your name or your logo? What do you want your brand to represent?

2) Create guidelines.

Once you’ve defined your brand, it’s time to create guidelines. These guidelines should include everything from your mission statement to the colors and fonts you use in your branding. By having a set of guidelines, you’ll be able to ensure that all of your marketing materials are on-brand.

3) Train your team.

If you have a virtual assistant or team, it’s important to train them on your branding guidelines. Make sure everyone knows what your brand represents and how they can help you maintain a consistent brand identity.

4) Monitor your brand.

Once you’ve launched your brand, it’s important to monitor it. This means paying attention to how people are reacting to your brand and making sure that you’re still presenting yourself in the way you want to be seen.

5) Be prepared to adjust.

Finally, be prepared to adjust your branding strategy as needed. As your business grows and changes, your branding will need to change with it. By being flexible and willing to adjust, you’ll be able to ensure that your brand is always relevant.

Wrap Up

A strong online brand is essential for any business or individual. By definition, your online brand is the way you’re perceived by others online. And while that may seem like a superficial thing, the reality is that your online brand can have a big impact on your business or career.

If you’re not sure how to create a strong online brand, start by defining your brand and creating guidelines. Then, train your team on your branding strategy and monitor your brand over time. And finally, be prepared to adjust as needed.

About:
Oscar is a passionate full-time blogger and a part-time author. In his personal blog OssieRodriguez.com, he writes about software, online influence, and different business models.

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How SEO Works in Digital Marketing

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Search engine optimization (SEO) is an integral part of digital marketing.

SEO helps with brand discoverability. When done right, SEO can create the most consistent and by far the highest-quality traffic source which doesn’t require on-going maintenance.

Yet, SEO is usually the most isolated part of the marketing. Whether it is an in-house team or a third-party service that’s delivering your SEO campaigns, it usually exists on its own without really communicating goals, progress or results to the whole company.

This creates silos that can lead to poor results and even reputation crises.

How does SEO work in digital marketing and how can a business make it work better?

What is SEO?

SEO is a collection of tactics (content, technical, link building, even website security and usability) that ensures that your website is easy to understand for search engines.

Basically, it ensures a machine knows that your page will be easy to find to a human being who is looking to solve a related problem.

Search engine traffic is one of the highest-quality traffic for many reasons:

  • Unlike PPC (paid) traffic, it doesn’t require an ongoing investment to keep coming
  • Unlike social media traffic,  it doesn’t require an ongoing work to keep coming
  • Unlike social media traffic, you are not interrupting people’s browsing. Instead you give them what they were actually searching for.

In other words, it is consistent and it converts well. No other digital marketing tactic beats that.

Apart from driving direct traffic, search engine optimization helps build brand awareness by increasing your brand’s organic findability.

Keep Your Whole Team Aware of Why SEO is Important

The great thing about today is that everyone understands the value of ranking high on Google! Sadly, however, many folks only know that they “need SEO” without having really understood what that means. 

SEO these days is too hard for a digital marketer to do alone. Many SEOs find themselves in situations where an executive will simply come down and go “Why are we not ranking well for ‘dingwobble’?” 

Keep working hard with teams for them to understand how they contribute to the SEO process:

  • Product Marketers who are responsible for the business, personas and messaging understand that SEO is critical to driving the bottom line revenue numbers they are looking at. Part of the persona developing process should be the development of the “digital persona” – what websites and search terms are these people looking for? This helps the product marketer when it comes time to develop messaging, as that is going to be critical for developing the content, so the right search terms better be there!
  • Field Marketers responsible for the campaigns need to know how SEO fits within their campaign, how it in fact is core to our demand generation, and how to make sure to keep the campaigns integrated.
  • Marketing Communications is creating the content, so SEO should very well be top of mind for them, as the content itself will be critical in impacting how successful SEO will be.
  • But that’s not all! Often, other groups are creating content (Press Releases, Blog Posts, Presentations, etc.) that also end up on the web and impact SEO. Whether it’s Corporate Communications, Investor Relations or even Legal teams, working with them is critical.
  • IT manages the infrastructure and can be very critical to the technical aspects of SEO.
  • Sales and customer support teams are at the forefront of marketing talking to your future and current customers, so they need to be involved in the SEO strategy. Creating relevant content goes beyond keywords. It needs to address real problems and answer actual people’s questions, and your client-facing teams will be your best source of inspiration here.  
  • Executives also care! While they can’t often influence the day-to-day of SEO, they will care a lot about the bottom line, to which SEO contributes.

Educating all of these people about SEO helps empower them, as well as position yourself, the SEO, as the subject matter expert who is not just someone back-office who gives very little visibility into the black box of SEO, but someone who is actively educating and contributing to the organization’s success.

Review and discuss common KPIs early and often to make sure everyone knows what victory looks like to the team.

Additionally, SEO should be a solid part of any project launch as it impacts every stage of product positioning. From choosing a business name to choosing a website builder, your initial efforts should be driven by SEO best practices.

What is the key to SEO success in a constantly changing environment?

As a practitioner of SEO, I believe that you need to look to ensure you are looking at both developing yourself in both depth and breadth of knowledge. A key danger in the name of being informed or being a part of the SEO community is spending all your time debating tactics and practices rather than testing them. 

Additionally, SEOs as with all employees need to look outside their field to stretch and learn how to be more well rounded. This could mean learning to code, or educating yourself in some other area of the business you work for.  This will expose you to ideas others may not have.

As a manager of people, success is really about diversity of expertise. Who you hire and the kind of people you hire will be far more valuable than much of what people invest in with regards to SEO programs. You have to have people who can roll with the punches and develop a skill for self-management and personal growth. 

Finally, I think knowing what your real goals are in having an SEO program are the key to long term success. The reality is you may get more traffic, but if that traffic is not from qualified leads and generates real revenue then the benefit may be very little. Having well defined goals and metrics will also help you avoid chasing algorithm changes and focus on the big picture.

Conclusion

SEO is the most essential long-term digital marketing strategy but to make it really effective, you need a knowledge team that is well-integrated into the company’s life. Good luck!

Ann Smarty

Ann Smarty is the brand NINJA at Internet Marketing Ninjas as well as the founder of numerous startups including MyBlogGuest, MyBlogU, ViralContentBee, TwChat and many more.

Ann Smarty has been an online marketing consultant for 10 years providing high-quality digital marketing consulting through her services and courses (both free and paid).

Ann Smarty’s content marketing ideas have been featured in NYtimes, Mashable, Entrepreneur, Search Engine Land and many more. She is known for her indepth tool reviews, innovative content marketing advice and actionable digital marketing ideas.

Source: Ann Smarty

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