In the last week we have been getting large spikes in certain search terms that have no relation to the history of the results. The final straw came yesterday when we received 20 clicks on an obscure search term where we are in 6th place with a low bid (2¢). In the previous 35 days we have only received 17 clicks on this term in the same posistion and the same bid. We have sent an e-mail to customer service.
Honestly... The only times I've seen this is when my competition decides they want out of FindWhat, or, crazy affiliate (usually c/o searchfeed now) goes hog wild trying to make a few bucks.
With a $0.02 bid, I'm guessing you're not in a very-competitive market. Am I right? Also, do you have any specific URL tracking to see where these people are coming specifically from? i.e.: one particular FW partner site, FW themselves, etc.
I just received a response from FindWhat customer service asking what my ROI was for that day. Unfortunately we are a small tourism business that gets all of it's business through e-mail response and as we are widely adveritsed there is no way to track where the results come from other than by tracking the entry pages for each PPC engine. In our business it's common for people to research our site and then come back weeks later to book after they have arranged flights, etc. This makes it impossible for us to do any specific tracking.
When you have been doing this (PPC) for 3 years and suddenly see 1 search term get 20 clicks in one day when you've only had 17 in the previous 35 days and your posistion hasn't changed then you know something is not right. At 2¢ a click I wouldn't think it's "for profit" (click farms), more likely it's some sort of secondary search engine featuring the search term in some way however it would have to be some unrelated term to get that many click throughs in 6th posistion as the term it's under is pretty obscure.
The cost of this exercise is not what has me concerned. It's what happens if they start doing the same thing to a higher placed, more expensive term. With AdWords I know what I'll get each day. Sometimes the CTR is higher or lower but it's very predictable. FindWhat has added a new element of surprise that I don't like.
I have now discovered how these spikes are occurring.
An affiliate of FindWhat that uses photos in their search results are linking some of these photos from general terms to much more specific PPC terms. (if anyone wants the specific search engine just sticky me)
Here is how they do it. On their front page they have a number of category headings like many search engines have. One of the general headings is "travel" (hopefully this general term does not go against the TOS). When a searcher clicks on this heading he is presented with a display of photos. In our case one of our site photos was presented and was linked to one of our FindWhat PPC terms that according to FindWhat's own records only produced 27 searches in the previous month. One day we received 20 clicks and 7 days later 40.
The point of all this is we would never run a PPC campaign under such a general term as "travel". The clicks presented by this method are useless and expensive. The ROI is zero (for us). It's just another more sofisticated way of creating click fraud. The web site is actually quite appealing and if they presented these photos without the PPC implications there would be nothing wrong. The way it is now being done is just downright dishonest.
I felt obliged to post that FindWhat denies that these clicks are originating from the search engine mentioned above. I can't prove otherwise. I have asked them to advise me where these abnormal clicks originated from however I'm not holding my breath that they will tell me. If they do I'll post it here. Something is definately not right.