The line of contention between what is cheating Google and what is not is very similar to the law of tax evasion versa tax avoidance.
Whereas one will land you in a very deep pile of mud, the other can build you a palace of gold.
So it is with the mighty Google AdSense. Love it or hate it, it produced a staggering nine billion dollars last year!
AdSense is without doubt the most successful PPC advertising campaign undertaken in history. With such huge wealth available, the cheats and frauds are abound, lurking in every corner, devising ways of grabbing a little of the AdSense phenomena themselves. And they do. To the tune of around a billion dollars last year. Some are big operators running sophisticated software across servers with spoofed IP addresses, while further down the chain may be a group of students who get together to make a few extra dollars from their website.
You may have heard of the recent ‘most stupid man of the century’. Who developed this undetectable clicking bot that would trawl away clicking Google ads all day long. It could have ruined Google if allowed out into the net. Can you imagine thousands, maybe millions of people clicking on adverts at 10cents a time, on your site every day? AdSense and the billions that go with it would have died overnight.
The guy could have kept quite and sat back in the land of luxury for the rest of his life taking out undetectable crumbs from a multi billion dollar cake. But what does he do? Offers or threatens Google to buy the programme for a $100k. When they said no, he tried to sell it on the Internet for $10k a copy. He lost everything when they arrested him. Good.
There are many out there even as you read this who are running some kind of PPC scam and thousands more who are dreaming of doing so. For those of you who are, you better be changing tactics on a daily basis, as Google do. For those thinking about it, let this be a guide to the pitfalls that await you. Don’t do it.
For those thinking of building a successful future income out of AdSense legitimately. Still read on, this will be an eye opener for you and later, you will learn how to build that golden palace from AdSense. Or at least a nice little honest earner.
The PPC defence system.
Firstly, the most important weapon in the click fraud arsenal is the IP address. Everyone in the world connected to the net has one. Every time you visit a page, you leave a trace route. This is also the must powerful of marketing tools for PPC companies like Google. They use it to categorise visitors into geographic locations and can serve local information and adverts of interest. So it goes without saying that they automatically know the IP address of every single click on an AdSense ad. Hence, if you accidentally click on one of your own ads from the same IP address as registered with Google when the account was set up, you get flagged at Google. If it happens again you may get a warning or may even loose your account and all within.
By far the most of the average 10% loss in PPC comes from the smaller click frauds. A student gets lots of mates on different IP addresses to visit his site and click a few ads. If he is clever and they only click say two ads each time they visit and never twice in a day, the odds of detection are about zero. Especially if they emulate a real surfer and visit a few pages of the advertisers site. But that’s not much at 10cents a click is it? These guys and gals are clever though. They use a well established site with high keyword value content. Like Loans for example. Some of these AdSense clicks are worth not 10cents but 10 DOLLARS each! There are some that hypothetically are worth $50 a click. But, irrespective of what Google may be charging the advertiser, they have a publisher cut off at around $15 maximum per single ad click. Now say there are twenty students all pals with each other and the site is a page rank 5 student site with $10 ads, then forty clicks each day is $400!! Now $20 day each is not a fortune, but to a student its real useful. Now just imagine they all have their own websites and all run AdSense or other PPC campaigns. There making a fortune??
Yes. For a little while anyway. But there is a huge flaw in their master PPC click fraud plan. As they are all buddies, they no doubt live in the same locality or general region. Suddenly there are these sites which according to Google’s massive database, have no local geographic interest, yet getting tons of visitors from the same region. Google knows this as the main service provider, who every one ultimately channels through, has its own IP address on the net.
So yes the click fraud system works on a small level though will hardly make you rich from just a couple of clicks a day on your mates site.
Other reasons and a myth or two, that will catch out all but the most clever of the larger click cheats are.
The Google Empire strikes back:
With the ultimate power of Google Search, Google Desktop, Google Toolbar, GMail, Google Earth, Google Talk, Google Sitemaps, Blogger and so on and so on,,,,,. Google can identify the majority of users across the entire world and somewhere in those colossal databases humming away in air cooled oil, they know every single click from all those people. Every second of the day. Its the CIA’s dream. So unless you can spoof IP’s on a vast scale or somehow make it appear that millions of clicks are originating from unique IP’s from geographically different locations. Your busted.
The only systems that have been successful in this area are, infection of computers with a Trojan virus that sits quietly in the background automatically clicking a set of PPC ads served up by some software on a server or group of them.
Then there’s the far east clickers. They will happily sit and blindly click on anything all day long for a dollar.
The sweat shops of China have been taken over by the clicking sweat shops. Sometimes hundreds of people on computers in one poorly ventilated room, all puffing away on cigarettes and spilling rice over the keyboard.
They click on PPC ads to order or play online community games gathering gold and selling it for hard cash in the real world.
At a dollar a day workers, there are fortunes to be made on the net by unscrupulous sweat shop bosses. From writing articles to adding page content, are some of the slightly more respectable ones. But any type of PPC opens an obvious channel for huge profiting. Banning IP’s from certain locations effectively removed many of these click frauds. Though now there are new sweat shops springing up all over the place, not in the far east, but in Europe and even illegal immigrants in London working for £10 per day with only four hours sleep. Maybe a lot more than a dollar a day, but the market is an immense multi billion dollar one that is going to just keep on doubling and the rewards for underworld operations are increasing proportionally.
Then of course there are footprints or patterns of someone visiting your site. Why do they only visit the same home page and within a few seconds, click on all the PPC ads, then quickly exit the site. But they don’t click ads on other sites they visit? That’s a pretty easy to identify footprint. Lets see, this IP address has clicked on dozens of AdSense ads on one site belonging to one publisher. With a click through rate (CTR) rate approaching 100%. And don’t forget, it is not only Google who will be looking at the clicks from your site, the advertiser has full access to all that info and excellent analysis software. That way they can effectively measure the cost effectiveness of their AdSense campaign. If they see hundreds of clicks each day from the same IP address and zero conversion to a sale, they will be shouting at Google, quite loudly if those clicks cost them dollars. Who will politely pull your plug. Forever!
I mentioned CTR above. This is something that so many click frauds ignore to their cost and downfall.
CTR is a simple calculation that divides the number of page impressions from your visitors by the number of Google ads that they click on.
If a site is very specific and vertical targeted, it may be quite normal to see unusually high clicks on Google ads. Say a site about Fender guitars has AdSense ads, then they will contain advertisers related to that sector and possibly 20% of visitors may click an ad. Google knows the specific nature of the site because its serving targeted PPC ads, targeted at those visitors. Therefore, rather than flag the site for possible click fraud due to abnormally high CTR, they do just the opposite, they serve higher value AdSense ads to that site because of the high CTR and vertical content. As a result, the site owner has possibly built a nice little extra income or even a golden palace from the AdSense revenue. But this is not the norm and most sites have a CTR of more like 3%.
So if your site about something of not too greater importance to the world wide web, ranked somewhere in the middle of millions of other pages and not even indexed by Google yet, has no back links and has a CTR of 50%, it will be immediately flagged and unless there’s good reason, the jolly old plug is pulled again.
An average CTR of between 1% to 7% is normal and would not set off any warning bells. But if your mates are about the only ones visiting your site and each one clicks an ad each time, that’s a 100% CTR!! You are nabbed and your plug is well and truly pulled.
So that just leaves the hard core of the more clever, but small time click frauds who consistently milk the system. They are virtually undetectable and extremely difficult to differentiate from genuine AdSense clicks. This forms the main 10% bulk and just like other industries, providing losses can be maintained at an acceptable 10%, everyone is happy. Credit cards are at around 12% and most traders use a 10%-15% loss adjustment these days. So despite all the hype you may have read about the death of PPC ads due to click fraud, plain business logistics say that beneath a certain value, the cost of further improvement is non conducive to the bottom line – profit.
Overall, advertisers are content with what they see as an acceptable loss in a tremendous growth area, brimming with benefits and profit. Due to Google’s immense size and powerful analytic tools they are constantly developing, advertisers feel safe from big time click fraud and know they are entering a very profitable marketplace with Google AdSense and to a lesser degree, other PPC campaigns.
Click fraud is the equivalent of tax evasion in AdSense and you deserve to lose your account. However, there are other honest ways of picking up anywhere from a few crumbs to a nice slice of the AdSense cake. While the hardened old timers may call some of it a ‘grey area’, it is a legal and acceptable method of achieving great success. A little like the tax avoidance instead of evasion scenario. Instead of cheating the system, you work with it and explore its many ‘grey’ areas.
In this world the biggest rewards (and risks) are closer to that fine dividing line of correctness or legality. Accountants exploit it and global companies use it to amass great wealth. Take the classic case of Microsoft. There was poor Bill and his buddy all those years ago, sweating under the pressure of a contract with IBM using software they didn’t have! If it had gone wrong and the miracle had not materialised, they would have been doing time for defrauding IBM. Ouch! But at the last hour they found a genius who had developed this magic DOS programme. They bought it for a poultry sum which not only saved their bacon, but made Bill the richest man in the world! Now that is what I call a close call though, look at the rewards. Shame it was the only Microsoft software that ever worked with stability, still its the only software they didn’t write. LOL.
If you want to make real and honest money from AdSense or any PPC campaign, I hope the chapters to follow will be useful
Looking at the AdSense industry Guru’s who make monthly AdSense cheques for thousands of dollars to the ones making a tiny few dollars, is the first thing to do. Knowing where they succeed or fail is the second. Putting that knowledge together with some good SEO work can give anyone a site sitting at the top of Google, ahead of millions of other pages.
Once there, all one has to do is duplicate the success with another site and so on. Within a year and an average amount of work and providing you are committed to making it work, you could be getting a steady income from AdSense of anywhere between $1000 to $10,000 dollars per month. The knock on effect of which is that apart from Google AdSense, you should by then be running promotions or other affiliate ad campaigns on those sites, which should produce ten times that of AdSense, if your audience is vertical enough. While AdSense may be an important part of your revenue, affiliate ads produce far greater single sale values. But watch out, wont be long before Google builds in house affiliate advertising of their own to compliment AdSense or, they will buy out someone like Commission Junction for example.
Within an industry that could hit outer space year after year, Internet advertising is about to be the biggest earner in the world and worth hundreds of billions each year, with no ceiling. The beauty about the whole concept of the Internet and thanks in most to the two brain child’s behind Google, is that anyone can be what they want to be. There is no global Goliath versus little David. With some good input, David’s site can rank higher, look better and be more appealing than Goliath’s and invariably does. That means anyone who desires, can have a slice of this enormous cake, all it takes is common sense, a willingness to learn and a wish to make a serious income from the net. You may have to know programmes like Dreamweaver and PHP, but there is no rocket science involved.
Continuation of the ‘PPC Book’ can be found at the authors .com site KeywordAccess. Along with articles about PPC, white black and grey sites, keywords and other interesting stuff and of course, free access to over 15 million keywords and phrases to help you build that profitable site.The PPC and AdSense Book. by Harrison Barnes