Google Ads already detects and filters a large number of invalid clicks.
But if you are worried and have valid reasons to think your account has been affected by Invalid clicks, you can request Google to start an investigation.
However, there are several ways that you can minimise invalid click – what’s also called ‘click fraud’.
The conventional way to reduce or stop invalid clicks is to exclude IP addresses (A unique number assigned to every computer on the internet) from your Google Ads campaigns.
You can’t see IP addresses in your Google Ads.
Points to consider
Invalid clicks may be coming from proxy servers such as coffee shops, airports, and public places. These clicks may be ok, especially if the searches are not always identical.
Users may come back to your site a few times before converting, especially if they use comparison shopping sites or are looking for more information, and may legitimately click your ad more than once.
Increased traffic could be explained by account or campaign changes, such as adding new keywords, raising your daily budget or your CPC (Cost per click) bids, or even a sudden traffic spike.
Internet service providers may assign the same IP address to multiple users, especially users who live close by each other.
Examples of potential invalid clicks are an unexplained increase in traffic or a number of clicks from a single source.
Exclude IP addresses in your campaign Settings
Check your web server’s log file for suspicious IP addresses. If you don’t have a web server log, install tracking software.
Identify suspicious IP addresses.
Exclude these IP addresses in every campaign you’re concerned with.
Campaigns > Settings > IP exclusions.
Watch it on YouTube (Larger version)
Clickstamps but no Action Timestamps
The most suspicious IP addresses have a lot of click timestamps (the time the click the click is registered on your site), but no action timestamps (the time a user has completed your goal or conversion).
After you’ve excluded suspicious IP addresses, your competitors and publishers could still click your ads from other IP addresses, such as outside of work or from their home.
Detecting invalid clicks is much harder if they are coming from a VPN (Virtual Private Network).
Internet service providers (ISPs) can serve the same IP address to bulk users, and you could exclude more people than you intend.
If most invalid clicks are from the same cities or regions, you may have to consider excluding them.
But not all clicks may be invalid, and you could potentially lose customers by filtering out good clicks.
Run a Geographic report.
Locations > GEOGRAPHIC REPORT.
Exclude any suspicious locations.
For more details, select ‘User location report’ or ‘Per shop report’ if you have shops in different locations.
Exclude Automatic placements
Automatic placements campaigns on the Display Network are likely to accrue clicks from irrelevant websites, especially if your targeting is too broad.
Amongst these websites, you may see Invalid clicks from software or publisher based click fraud.
You can manually exclude any irrelevant placements. However, there may be thousands of sites to filter through every week, if not daily, especially if you have a large number of Display Network campaigns.
This exercise is time-consuming.
You can also exclude Websites, YouTube channels, YouTube videos, Apps and App categories from campaigns or ad groups.
Placement Exclusion Lists
Instead of excluding placements in each campaign individually, create placement exclusion lists and add placements to the lists. You can then apply lists across the appropriate campaigns/ad groups in your account.
TOOLS & SETTINGS > Placement exclusion lists > Create placement exclusion list.
Update 15 November 2018
Deprecation of adsenseformobileapps.com placement exclusion:
The ‘adsenseformobileapps.com’ placement exclusion, which allows blanket targeting and exclusion of app inventory, will be removed.
After this exclusion has been removed, campaigns will start to see app traffic.
When your Display campaign targets only Managed placements, you eliminate Invalid clicks.
This strategy ensures your ads only show on the relevant sites you’ve chosen.
With Remarketing campaigns, your ads are only shown to users who have visited your website.
Publishers based click fraud won’t occur as they will not be able to see or click on your ads, and you are therefore eliminating a large number of Invalid clicks.
Optimising your account identifies low conversion areas to exclude potential Invalid clicks.
Your conversion rate is a great indicator of a successful campaign.
Extract from my Book ‘Making Google Ads Work’.