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Is there anything one can do to address whatever might be causing such an e-mail?
I think that AdSense is great and sure do not want to lose my account through no fault of my own.
Thanks for comments and suggestions.
So being innocent does not come into it..
It just means they have detected irregularities which may be due to the site owner clicking on ads on their own site, or someone else doing it. To me it is far more likely that it is someone else doing it, as most webmasters are not that stupid. Nothing much you can do about it directly, it may be that the nature of the site attracts curious looking click patterns or faudulent clicks - e.g. you may have a community site where eveybody clicks just because they know it helps you, or your site is on a particular subject that attracts advertisers that competitors like to click on, or you have a site that attracts spammers, who just like to click on these things out of spite, or you may have competitors to your site who want to cause problems for you.
There were a rash of these "fraudluent click" email reports a few weeks ago, but as far as i know, no reports since. Maybe google are using other ways to attack the problem or have changed the "flag" levels, or even improved their fraudulent click prevention procedures.
There seem to be plenty of false positives, and you usually hear about the ones who get them, rather than the ones who quietly earn $ from AdSense without any problems at all.
They have probably adjusted their fraud detectors somewhat since the earlier days of AdSense when it seemed like every second post was about a fraudulent clicks/impressions email from Google.
As long as you follow the terms, FAQ & policies (take a good read-through all three of them if you haven't already - it covers all the dos and don'ts of the program) and as long as you don't click on your own ads, you shouldn't spend time worrying about the possibility.
Welcome to WebmasterWorld [webmasterworld.com] DomeBase!
"When Google refers to 'fraudulent clicks' they are not being personal."
That's OK with me. I understand their position in having to be serious about fraud detection and avoidance. As long as a warning letter is not a prelude to account termination -- which would be rather personal by definition. :)
"Start off with a read through of this rather lengthy thread Fraudulent Clicks: it wasn't me!"
Thanks. I read that also, but noted that the thread starter (may have) clicked a couple times whereas I have not clicked at all... a slightly different perspective.
"As long as you follow the terms, FAQ & policies (take a good read-through all three of them if you haven't already -it covers all the dos and don'ts of the program)"
Yep. I have read those very thoroughly. The AdSense program is very well designed and I would not want to do anything to jeopardize participation.
I appreciate the welcome to Webmaster World. I am active in some other forums and do research on domain related topics -- particularly the .INFO extension -- but this is the best discussion of AdSense I have found.
I also asked if they knew of any signatures or signs of automated-clicking software, or IP's of sites that might do that so I could ban them from my site. (They did not address this part of the email at all.)
They emailed me back (ever notice how all emails from Google read like form letters?) and said don't send us your logs, our proprietary yadda yadda can detect fraudulent clicks, have your webmaster look for signs of suspicious activity and notify us, blah blah.
Not sure how I can look for "suspicious activity" when the AdSense code and URLs are pulled from Google and therefore not available as data in my logs. I should look for -- what? Someone reloading a single page over and over? :-)
I haven't gotten another "fraudulent clicks" email yet, knock on wood, so maybe it was legitimate. Perhaps the "fraudulent clicks" email is not just based on a sudden jump in clicks, but on other stuff. On the other hand, maybe there is a delay between the "fraud" and the email getting sent out, so who knows.
It does seem as though fewer of those emails are being sent out lately ... maybe they've worked the bugs out and it's better at detecting "real" fraudulent clicks now. I hope so! I've never clicked on any of the ads on my site even accidentally, but I think some of us still live in fear of The Email(tm). :-)
The second time I asked what the problem was and they basically said "our bad" and retracted it.
No worries as long as you really are legit.
Don't jump on me with the TOS, I'm talking ideally here. We all know there are some jerks that would just click to make themselves get a few extra bucks.
Then it would also raise the issue of where would the line get drawn? One click a week? Two clicks a week? One click a month? I think without the no-clicking rule, that the system has the potential to become overrun with fraud, with every webmaster claiming they were honestly interested in all x number of ads they clicked ;) And in the end, it would end up hurting the honest publishers.
We do know the Google allows publishers a few clicks before getting a fraudulent impressions / clicks email. But I am one of those who would rather play it safe than draw attention to my AdSense account, even for legitimate "I was interested in the ad" reasons. And I am sure many others here would do the same, especially since there are no similar competitors we could easily switch to.
And I am sure many others here would do the same, especially since there are no similar competitors we could easily switch to.
The lack of competitors doesn't come into it. After all, if there are people who click on their own ads and are kicked out by Google, if there was a competitor (who would, no doubt, have similar rules), they'd probable do the same, and get booted out of that program.
RobbieD's advice is very, very sound. There's absolutely no reason to click on your own ads, given the right-click solution.