Google Ads Tips
What Are Invalid Clicks in AdWords? How Google Detects Fraudsters
How much can you really rely on Google? The answer is; “Less than you think.”
Running an ad campaign on Google AdWords (also known as Google Ads) can be extremely expensive. Even for small companies, a successful pay per click campaign can often set them back thousands in ad spend.
But unknown to many advertisers, almost 1-in-4 clicks on Google Ads can be traced back to being fraudulent in some way. Whether it’s a fake click from your competitors, or a disgruntled customer repeatedly clicking your ads, making sure you’re only paying for legitimate clicks should be your biggest concern.
If you think you’ve experienced some fraudulent behaviour on your Google Ads campaigns, then you should consider filing a refund request. Even if you only suspect 1 or 2 clicks to be fraudulent, there’s no point paying for fake clicks.
To request a refund from Google, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow before you can submit a request. If you’ve never done a Google AdWords refund before then don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
Having filed hundreds of Google AdWords refund requests in the past, we have plenty of experience dealing with their refund team.
We’ll guide you through all the steps of submitting a refund and even give you a few tips to increase your chances of getting your request approved. But before you can request a refund from Google, making sure you have the right data is crucial. Here’s how you can get your hands on the important information Google wants to see.
When it comes to submitting an AdWords refund claim, the first thing you’ll need to do is make sure you have as much data as possible. If you’re not currently using a 3rd party tracking service like PPC Protect, then you might find the evidence you need harder to find.
As standard, Google Analytics and Google Ads don’t record the IP address of users who click your ads as they are classed as personally identifiable information. So if you’re not using a 3rd party tracking service then, unfortunately, you’ll have to get the data the hard way.
Without any tracking software, you’ll have to manually check your server logs and work out which traffic is coming to your site via Google Ads. Once you can identify the users coming to your website via your ad campaigns, you can then start to look for repetitive IP addresses. These are the IP addresses that pop up several times a day over and over again.
We suggest running these IPs through an IP address lookup tool to give you information such as their geographical location and if they’ve been included in any blacklists. Some of the best tools for this are:
If the IP address shows up on several blacklists, then there’s a good chance that IP address has some suspicious behaviour and could be linked to a botnet or fraud ring.
Once you’ve checked a few months of your server logs you should have enough information to start filling out the refund request form. Making sure you get the suspicious IP addresses is incredibly important, without them you’re going to have a hard time convincing Google you’ve been the victim of click fraud.
To request a refund from Google, you’ll need to fill out their rather long refund request form here. To give you an idea of what it looks like, here’s the entire page:
As you can see, it requires a lot of information in order to make a refund request. If you want the best chances of getting your refund accepted, then you should make sure you have as much data as possible.
The most important thing when filling out this form is to provide as much evidence as possible and provide a solid summary of why you should be refunded. Simply saying “because the clicks are fake” is not going to cut it. Instead, you should be referring to the IP addresses you have provided and mention things such as the frequency of the clicks, and their user agents.
Once you’ve submitted the form, it’s time to play the waiting game. Requests can take anywhere up to 6 weeks before you get a response back from Google. The results can be a full refund (incredibly rare), a partial refund for certain clicks (very common), or no refund at all (common).
From our experience, the average success rate is around 20 – 25%, but if you know what to write in the request form, then this can increase to 30 – 35%. It might not seem like a high success rate, and you’re probably questioning if it’s worth the time to even send one. But remember, if you don’t ask for a refund then you’ll never get one. You’ll just have to hope that Google detects invalid clicks on your account.
Protecting your Google PPC ads from fraudulent clicks should be on the mind of every PPC manager. Without you knowing, you could be losing hundreds or even thousands a month to unwanted and undetected fraudulent clicks. Although Google says you’re protected thanks to its invalid click detector, if you do your own research you’ll be surprised at how many suspicious clicks you actually receive.
With Google only refunding a tiny percentage of users, taking action to protect yourself from future fraudulent clicks is essential nowadays.
PPC Protect is an automated click fraud detection and prevention service that monitors all of your clicks for fraud in real time. If any clicks are detected as being fraudulent, then that IP address will instantly be blocked from seeing your ads in the future. This helps massively with reducing the number of fraudulent clicks you’ll receive in the future.
To see how much money you could save every month on your Google PPC ads, sign up for a free 30-day trial below and start saving.