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How Does Google Know?

     
3:03 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We all know that Google does not allow webmasters to click on ads running on their own sites. My question is, how do they know if you are doing this? Do they somehow track my IP address? Can they tell my IP from emails I have sent them? Or do they just look for recurring patterns?

I do not click on my ads and have told other people in my house not to and am hoping this is enough. We all share in IP since we connect through a router so hopefully they heed my warnings!

3:10 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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They look at the IP address you login with to check your earnings. Each click goes through their adsense server and the IP address is recorded and logged down, if they see the two IPs match on one account then it could indicate click fraud.

That is just the obvious method :)

[edited by: creative_craig at 3:15 pm (utc) on May 24, 2004]

3:13 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Google doesn't elaborate on how they know about click frauds -- just that they have tools in place & manpower assigned to look at fraudulent clicks.

Traditional banner networks such as Burst even shows in their members page the IP addresses in their host report, including the number of requests from that host/IP address. I'm sure that Google has something similar, or even more advanced, than this type of tool.

3:27 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Word of warning: Never check your stats on anybody else's PC.
3:29 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yikes. I can guarantee at least one of my housemates has clicked on ads via the same IP I use. He was just trying to help me, he says... :( How likely is it that a few clicks here and there are going to cause Google to hit me with their banning stick?
3:35 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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And in the same vein, if they determine that I have violated their terms (and you're just going to have to believe that I didn't!) do they automatically and permanently ban me, or will they simply not pay for ads generated from my IP?
3:38 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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haven't heard about google not counting clicks from certain IP's....so they just ban you if it comes to it.

many of us webmaster would LOVE this ability...to be able to go to our reports page and enter an IP or even an IP block from which not to accept clicks.

then we could click ads on our site to our heart's content...to check what is there and for the SHEER unadulterated JOY of it! :-)

3:42 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Word of warning: Never check your stats on anybody else's PC.

I have often wondered about this. The next question then is, "What about dial up connections?"

Is it not true that dial-ups will assign random IP's to users as they lopg on/log off?

WBF

3:46 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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It has to be a significant problem. Many companies have hundreds or thousands of users sharing an IP. How are they to know if one person within that company is an AdSense user and many others are merely visitors to that site? I suppose they must look for recurring patterns or something...
3:49 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I doubt Google would penalize you for clicking on a few of your own ads, assuming you did it for legitamite purposes and not just to drive up your revenue.

I've wanted to click on many of the ads on my site, simply because the content of my site is what I'm interested and I've seen a lot of ads that looked interesting to me.

3:59 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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assuming you did it for legitamite purposes and not just to drive up your revenue.

... except that G doesn't have any means to determine whether the click is for a "legitimate purpose" or to drive revenue to the site. All they know is that the click came from X IP address, which is also the IP address of the person logging into Adsense. If a certain percentage, if not the majority, of the clicks came from the same X IP address -- then you may be in a tight fix.

Based on what others have said here so far, one or two clicks may not trigger the dreaded email. Just be careful though to not push the envelope too far.

4:02 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I doubt Google would penalize you for clicking on a few of your own ads, assuming you did it for legitamite purposes and not just to drive up your revenue.

There is no legitimate reason to click an ad on your own site. (That's a slippery slope!)

Sure, you're interested in the topic; click on the "Ads by Google" and navigate from there.

Anybody clicking on his own ads for whatever reason deserves to be chucked from the program. Period.

4:14 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Google also tracks users with cookies of course.
4:38 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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> Word of warning: Never check your stats on anybody else's PC.

With respect: I don't buy that. G can not possibly penalize you for behaving in the best business sense while traveling!

How many of us do their online stuff on the side and travel for their real world job all the time...

4:39 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I would imagine Google would be looking out for multiple clicks from a single IP as the first alarm bell, rather than comparing the IP you log into your adsense account with, with the IP for an individual click. (Though they might get into that later)
5:13 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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This is quite interesting. I am on a shared IP with a bunch of computer geeks that are bound to find my computer-related site sometime. :S It wouldn't surprise me if they had already and clicked one of my ads. The ads should very often match their interests.

/ I know a way to work around this problem. I'll just have the Adsense code included server side, but only when the user_ip!= my_ip :-)

5:36 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Word of warning: Never check your stats on anybody else's PC.

What if you're on holiday and you go into an internet cafe? Are you supposed to hold off checking your revenue streams until you get home?

5:51 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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What if you're on holiday and you go into an internet cafe? Are you supposed to hold off checking your revenue streams until you get home?

Checking my stats from Internet points, hotel terminals, etc. has never caused me any problems.

Sounds like an urban myth to me.

5:53 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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> Word of warning: Never check your stats on anybody else's PC.
With respect: I don't buy that. G can not possibly penalize you for behaving in the best business sense while traveling!

You can buy whatever you want to buy, mate :)

There have been numerous threads here where that seemed to be the only issue that trigged closing the Adsense account. Someone uses a friend's PC to check stats, goes away, friend uses the PC after that, Adsense account is closed.

By all means check your stats while on holiday. It just so happens that if, if, if someone using the PC after you goes to your website and clicks a link... Google Adsense has no appeals procedure ;)

But, by all means, check it out, use a variety of different PCs to check your stats. Maybe you won't be affected :)

6:32 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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There is no legitimate reason to click an ad on your own site. (That's a slippery slope!)

Sure there is -- if the ads interest you then you should click on them (isn't that what they are there for?)

Put yourself in the advertisers shoes...would they want you to click the ad if you were genuinely interested in their product? Absolutely.

Of course, I never actually click my ads, just to be on the safe side.

6:59 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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if the ads interest you then you should click on them

Of course, I never actually click my ads, just to be on the safe side

I rest my case ;)

There's no better reason for not clicking... than a possible termination :)

7:05 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I can guarantee at least one of my housemates has clicked on ads via the same IP I use. He was just trying to help me, he says..

That's the exact same reason I have never told my friends or family the address of my websites or anything about AdSense. A friend today might be mad at you tomorrow and they will know exactly what to do to mess it all up.

7:19 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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tchallies,

Google will track & detect (including but not limited to:)

IP that generates click

IP that used to login AdSense (maybe AdWords as well)

Cookie (Sometimes a LAN share a IP but cookie can tell if the click from the same IP is also from same computer)

Referer (link-in)

Outgoing link (link-out)

Average stay time per page before clicking

Average return time

Which ads is clicked

... ...

7:20 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Here are several factors that nobody has mentioned (in this thread):

Nobody has mentioned low conversion rates. Many Adwords advertisers use Google's conversion tool, and this lets Google know when a successful sale is made from the same user who clicked the ad. If your conversion rate is 10 times less than the average, I think that would bring a red flag.

Also, what about the location of the IP addresses? What if you are getting a lot of clicks from {insert country name here} yet there is no cleae reason why the ads or the site would get people from that country.

Also, they might look at the overall spread of the links. Let's say the average distribution is 1.215 clicks per IP address, but your average is 4.6 clicks per IP address.

Also, there is distribution of clicks over time. Are the clicks generally within a range of +/- 20% from the mean number of clicks per day. Or are their some days where the number of clicks increases by 150%?

Also, there is another factor that involves 3 variables:
1) Impressions per day
2) Clicks per day
3) Value of Keywords
Are there an unaturally high number of clicks to high value keywords?

I can imagine that Google is using a scoring system. When a site reaches a high enough score using the above measurements, Google shuts them down. If you really think about it, there is enough info to catch just about anybody who is varying from the mean more than a few percent.

So I say why waste your time thinking of strategies to beat the system? Instead spend your time expanding and promoting your website.

7:24 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Additionally, CTR of course. a CTR of 2% ~ 5% should be normal esp if your site does not have a big traffic. But CTR beyond that may catch G's sight.

And, the value of per click.

tchallies,
Google will track & detect (including but not limited to:)

IP that generates click

IP that used to login AdSense (maybe AdWords as well)

Cookie (Sometimes a LAN share a IP but cookie can tell if the click from the same IP is also from same computer)

Referer (link-in)

Outgoing link (link-out)

Average stay time per page before clicking

Average return time

Which ads is clicked

... ...

7:35 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>a CTR of 2% ~ 5% should be normal esp if your site does not have a big traffic<

Where do those numbers come from? I have seen 20% CTR on a small site with only 300 or so visits a day.

WBF

8:07 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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>Where do those numbers come from? I have seen 20% CTR on a small site with only 300 or so visits a day.

Hi WBF, it is just my guess. :P I think a 20% CTR is maybe okay for small traffic site, say 300 visits in your case, but it is abnormal for a 30,000 visits/day site

8:29 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I just had a look at the Adsense TOS and it does not say you are not allowed to click your own ads.

It says:
"You shall not, and shall not authorize or encourage any third party to: (i) generate fraudulent impressions of or fraudulent clicks on any Ad(s), including but not limited to through repeated manual clicks, the use of robots or other automated query tools and/or computer generated search requests, and/or the fraudulent use of other search engine optimization services and/or software;"

If you are clicking your own ads because you are interested in them this is not fraudulent and therefore would not be against Google's TOS.

8:48 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Traditional banner networks such as Burst even shows in their members page the IP addresses in their host report, including the number of requests from that host/IP address. I'm sure that Google has something similar, or even more advanced, than this type of tool.

Not sure this would work very well. I am on Burst and they show 12% of my requests are made from Tiscali (which is quite a widely used ISP in UK- but certainly not big enough to provide as high a request ratio). Or does anyone know anything strange(and no doubt sinister) about Tiscali?

8:51 pm on May 24, 2004 (gmt 0)

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oldskool, I suggest you read the Program Policies (and the FAQ) before making such pronouncements. To quote:

"Please note that clicking on your own ads for any reason is prohibited"

This 51 message thread spans 2 pages: 51
 

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