How to Deal With Invalid Traffic on Google AdSense

Google AdSense enables publishers to make money from digital content. It places personalized advertisements on your website based on your visitors and what you publish. Advertisers, through agencies and networks, will pay for the ability to place their ads on your site. However, if Google AdSense detects what it considers to be invalid traffic, then your ability to monetize may be at risk.

AdSense defines invalid traffic as any clicks or impressions that artificially inflate publisher earnings. You can protect your AdSense account from bots and invalid traffic by following Google’s standard terms and policies to avoid putting your account and your revenue at risk.  

Keep reading to learn more about Google AdSense and invalid traffic so you can recognize it, detect it and handle it.  

  • Types of invalid traffic
  • How to recognize it
  • Prevention strategies

What Is Invalid Traffic?

Invalid traffic describes any impressions or clicks that artificially increase earnings or advertisement costs. So, both intentional actions and unintended actions by website visitors fall into the category of invalid traffic.   

Any of the below instances may be classified as invalid traffic by Google AdSense:

  • Automated bots, traffic sources, deceptive software, or clicking tools
  • Onsite messaging that encourages website visitors to click the ads
  • Ad implementations that lead to a high volume of unintended clicks
  • Repeated impressions or clicks from the same source (device, IP, etc.)people
  • Publishers clicking live ads on their own website

Google’s technology aims to calculate revenue generated from a user’s genuine interest in an advertisement. If Google’s technology detects high volumes of invalid traffic, Google may limit ad serving, suspend an account or even disable/ban the account.

Invalid traffic may also create discrepancies between your estimated and actual earnings that could serve as a warning flag to publishers who are unaware of invalid traffic on their site.

Even though invalid traffic could be present on a site without the publisher’s knowledge, the site publisher is responsible. To protect your site and business from invalid traffic you should check your site to ensure design, messaging and ad implementations meet requirements. In addition, publishers should check their traffic patterns and traffic sources as a way to protect their business from fraudulent claims.

Two Types of Invalid Traffic

There are two primary forms of invalid traffic: General Invalid Traffic (GIVT) and Sophisticated Invalid Traffic (SIVT).

You can find GIVT running in the background and scanning sites. Since it does not replicate human behavior, it is less risky and easier to identify. Common types of GIVT include:

  • Invalid ad placements
  • Brand safety or data bots
  • Analytics crawlers
  • Spiders, bots, and crawlers from search engines and known data centers
  • Unknown browser traffic

SIVT is more difficult to identify and generally represents malicious intent. It’s challenging to detect because it uses botnets to replicate human user behavior. As a result, advanced analytics are needed to detect SIVT on your page. Some forms of SIVT are:

  • Malware
  • False IP addresses
  • Bots that manipulate data
  • Illegal substitute traffic
  • Cookie stuffing
  • Hacked devices
  • Bot traffic that does not declare itself as non-human

Advanced fingerprinting algorithms are also used to detect SIVT.  Left unchecked, SIVT can also adversely affect your SEO efforts. 

How Does AdSense Detect Invalid Clicks?

Google AdSense uses a real-time filter system to check for invalid clicks and impressions. It will inspect the user’s IP address, look at the ads in your browser’s cache, and search for a sudden change in your click-through-rate (CTR) along with other methods Google does not disclose.

If the same IP address clicks on your ads too many times, Google will flag the actions as invalid. Users who have not selected similar ads in the past may also be viewed as fraudulent, even if the click was accidental. According to Google’s measurement, a spike in your CTR could indicate click fraud often associated with click farms.

Other warning flags include click timing, duplicate clicks, and clicking patterns. If your site violates Google’s ad placement policies, Google may identify your site as encouraging accidental clicks and target the site for monitoring or suspension.

Google keeps secret many other aspects of its methodology for detecting invalid traffic, so while the above are generally accepted as both good insight and good practice it is not an exhaustive list of detection methodologies.  You can get an idea of some of the characteristics and measurements Google uses to assess traffic by checking your Google Analytics account.

If Google identifies some impressions as invalid traffic, you will not be paid for those impressions or clicks and data will be removed. Generally, your AdSense account will only get penalized if Google detects what it considers high levels of invalid traffic but it is better to avoid the perception of invalid traffic by adhering to their placement policy. 

What Are the Signs of Invalid Traffic?

You can spot invalid traffic from any of these signs:

  • Suspended or disabled AdSense account
  • Sharp and unexpected spikes in website visits or user ad traffic
  • High bounce rates
  • Low conversions during traffic surges
  • Little time spent on site
  • Consistently unusual traffic patterns
  • Multiple clicks from one IP address
  • Increased traffic at odd times
  • Hacked systems

Google’s algorithms can readily detect non-human bot traffic from ad clicks. You will need to closely monitor your website for any invalid activity to manage click bots. 

How to Fix Invalid Traffic on AdSense

An easy first step is to brush up on AdSense policies. By fully understanding the program policies, you can better arm yourself to identify, resolve and mitigate invalid traffic and non-human traffic risks on your site.

One cause of invalid traffic detection by AdSense is a violation of their ad placement policies. Remember, if you facilitate accidental clicks, even unknowingly, you may be flagged by AdSense for generating invalid traffic.

Research your site’s traffic sources to check for unusual activity and any non-human bot activity. If you can’t remove the bot network yourself, you can contact Google for assistance.

As a publisher, you can also use Google Analytics to filter bots. Furthermore, you can use plugins to block bot attacks.

How to Prevent Invalid Clicks on Your Ads

Follow these tips to prevent traffic on your site that AdSense may consider invalid traffic.

  • Review your ad placement to ensure your ad placement does not encourage accidental clicks. Abide by the ad placement policies to ensure a positive user experience.
  • Avoid purchasing traffic. While it can boost your search engine rankings, unintended fraudulent clicks and impressions will likely be detected by AdSense, putting your earnings and your account at risk. 
  • Vet your traffic with a third-party ad fraud detection company. If you notice something awry but aren’t sure what’s wrong, ask for help determining the traffic source.
  • Do not click on your own ads as Google can readily identify this ad fraud.
  • You can enhance your site security to prevent bot traffic by changing your admin login URL to something and installing plugins to block bot attacks.
  • Check for expired domains that forward to your site. You can do this with your Google Analytics account to see what redirects to your page. 
  • Modify your SEO strategies to only practice link-building on authoritative sites in natural places.

Or, if all of this feels overwhelming, you can leverage an effective, user-friendly professional ad management partner like Newor Media.

Conclusion

AdSense detection of invalid traffic can negatively affect or completely impair your ability to monetize your website. To best protect your website and your revenue streams you need to monitor your website’s adherence to AdSense policies, changes to those policies, and frequently check for fraudulent activity.

While it can be tempting to buy traffic to boost your search engine rankings the source and nature of your traffic should be a major focus. Ensuring site visitors truly intend to visit, engage and consume your content will help you avoid potential SIVT issues.  Remember Google monitors your site visitor traffic patterns as well as traffic quality.  Since Google AdSense does not disclose the traffic quality standards your best path to growth is a focused approach to creating great content.

Ensure you understand and follow and adhere to all of Google’s  AdSense policies so you avoid the risk of deactivation and loss of your ability to monetize your site. 

You could try some alternatives to AdSense like professional ad management by Newor Media to avoid the issues of AdSense altogether. AdSense might be the start for many publishers, but perhaps it is time to put the pros in your corner.

Learn more about Newor Media by filling out this form. We hope to hear from you soon! 

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