There’s nothing worse for an AdWords advertiser than wasted budget. And topping the list of the worst ways to see your budget slip away has got to be competitors clicking your ads. Not only are they killing your AdWords budget, they’re also hiking up your bounce rate and battering your Quality Score in the same process.
Before you know it your account is spending more, converting less and all your hard work has been undone buy a bunch of rogue clicks. Luckily, you don’t have to let this happen and today we want to cover two ways stop competitors clicking your ads.
Protect your AdWords account with IP address exclusions
As Google puts it, you can “take your ads off certain neighborhoods of the Internet map” by blocking the IP addresses of people you don’t want clicking your ads. And the first group of people you’ll want to exclude are those competitors who have every reason to click your ads and sabotage your account.
The good news is you can do this from within AdWords. There are some limitations to this approach, which we’ll cover as we go along, but the AdWords interface is the best place to start with your IP address exclusions.
Step 1: Finding your competitors’ IP addresses
Before you can block a competitor’s IP address you need to know what it is. There are various IP lookup tools you can use to find them, but this is where your first limitation comes in. Let’s say you use a tool to block IPs based on one of your competitor’s domains. That’s a good start, but it won’t block the IPs their employees use in their own time outside of work.
You can dig deeper to find the IP addresses of some of these people if you feel the need to, but that’s prompting a few privacy questions we don’t want to get into today. So the call is yours to make on how far you go to get your hands on IP addresses.
Step 2: Excluding your competitors’ IP addresses in AdWords
Once you have your list of IP addresses to block you can exclude them by clicking on a campaign and hitting the Settings tab.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and you’ll see a list of links under Advanced settings. Click IP exclusions (roughly half way down the list) and then Edit next to where it says “Manage IP exclusions.
Next you’ll see the following box pop up and all you need to do is type in the IP addresses you want to exclude, one address per line.
There are a number of different formats you can type IP addresses into your AdWords exclusion list. If in doubt, though, type each IP address in full. Once you’re done, click save and that’s it.
Some limitations with IP address exclusions
As we’ve mentioned, IP address exclusions are a great place to start with protecting yourself from click fraud, but there are some limitations. The first is accuracy and we touched on this earlier. Blocking one IP address doesn’t stop a user committing click fraud on another IP address.
Some internet service providers (ISPs) also serve the same IP address to bulk users, meaning you could exclude more people than you intend. The chances of these people being potential customers could be very small, but it’s worth knowing about.
The most important thing to know with IP address exclusions, though, is they won’t be enough to stop people who are determined to click your ads. Virtual private networks (VPNs) are a couple of clicks away for people who want to hide their IP addresses and there are various other pieces of software that make click fraud easier.
Taking extra steps to protect your AdWords account from click fraud
The good news is there are various software packages you can use to protect your account from click fraud as well. The likes of Ad Watcher, ClickTracks and Improvely are among the providers who can help you detect and prevent click fraud with a little more force than IP exclusions.
You have plenty of other options to choose from as well, so have a play with some free trials and see which platform works bet for you.
As always, you can get in touch with us if you want more advice on preventing click fraud or any other problems you have. Give us a call directly, fill out the contact form below or reach out to us on social media with any questions you have.