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Fear of click fraud from competitor

     

helleborine

6:07 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'm afraid a vicious competitor might attempt click fraud to "punish" me. He's a real scumbag.

I've blocked his IPs from visiting my websites. Denying access to my sites normally would help prevent click fraud, but he has now learnt how to use anonymous proxies.

I'm doing my best to block him, and I am denying access to over 9000 proxies and update the list in .htaccess almost every week. As you probably guess, he finds new proxies everytime. I can't keep up.

I really don't want this individual to jeopardize my little "business relationship" with Google.

What could I do?

robdavy

6:08 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Tell google of your suspicions, they want to know

helleborine

6:22 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thanks. On your advice, I did.

He's a complete nutjob. I have to protect myself and I consider him capable of pulling a stunt like that.

Curiosity

6:40 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Is there any history of Google kicking a publisher out of Adsense for a stunt like this? Not you, helleborine--I mean your scumbag competitor.

helleborine

6:53 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I can't imagine that they would cut him out of the program because I'm afraid he might do something to me using anonymous proxies (what a pleague these are...).

His web page is so full of affiliate contents and links, he even has a link to fastclick!

My site is larger, and has unique and original content.

Until recently his page came up first in SERPs. It had for YEARS. But he's dropped to #4 and I'm #1.

He's upped the ante ever since his ranking dropped. He sounds desperate now, and I'm genuinely concerned.

david_uk

6:54 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Is there any history of Google kicking a publisher out of Adsense for a stunt like this? Not you, helleborine--I mean your scumbag competitor.

I don't know if they have done this or not. Assuming he has adsense too, I would think that they would look at his site, and his account as well as yours if they are going to fairly arbitrate this. That being the case, they may discipline him for TOS violation - *IF* he is in violation of the TOS!

But you certainly did the right thing in letting Google know there might be a click fraud attack. Others here have posted that this strategy worked for them.

helleborine

7:14 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



He does have AdSense too. As far as I can tell, he is abiding by the TOS so it really wouldn't be fair for him to be cut off on that basis.

Not to mention that if Google did that, it might really set him off on a fraud click attack if he hadn't thought of it earlier.

I'm glad to hear the "strategy" worked for others. I was afraid that disclosing that I might be a potential target might give them the idea to cut ME off.

david_uk

7:46 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Until recently his page came up first in SERPs. It had for YEARS. But he's dropped to #4 and I'm #1.

I'm guessing that your serps rating has increased due to the content quality and visitor numbers of your site. There is also the option for him to get back on top by following the same route.

Getting competitors booted from adsense rather than concentrating on your own site is not a sustainable business model. You can't stay on top by doing this - there will always be someone coming forward with a site that deserves a good ranking. As he's now down to number 4, there are clearly at least 3 sites that currently rate better than him. What's he going to do - keep trying to knock people off the top rather than make the necessary improvements to his site?

Google have seen all of this before. The situation is not new to them. They now know about it, and can keep a lookout.

helleborine

8:06 am on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'm guessing that your serps rating has increased due to the content quality and visitor numbers of your site. There is also the option for him to get back on top by following the same route.

You are absolutely correct.

He wouldn't try to have me booted off because it will make him better off, but because he's an unsophisticated revenge-minded fellow.

You and me can go up and down the SERPs and keep our cool, because we know how to adapt intelligently, in the manner that you suggest. He takes it very personally, and he's trying to "get back" at me. All I did is toil for a year and a half to build a better site. I don't care what he says, or what he posts. He once copied large expanses of text from my front page, and copied them onto his, white on white! But if he jeopardizes AdSense, I'm not going to laugh.

I don't know how Google can keep a lookout without knowing his ID, and if the rat uses proxies despite my valiant efforts.

blairsp

12:04 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Just a thought but is the local police not interested in your story? Fraud, harrasment to name but two things that are illegal in most countries that I know of.

helleborine

12:46 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



He's in the US, I'm not. Litigation is not an option, unless we're talking about really, really big bucks.

ncw164x

12:49 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Hmmm...Now where are the google secret police when you really need them...Sigh

helleborine

1:29 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I hardly slept a wink. I increased the number of proxies being denied in .htaccess from 9K to 70K.

BTW, my list of denied proxies in convenient "deny from 123.123.123.123" format is available. Send a PM if you want it.

PanUK

1:59 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I'm guessing that your serps rating has increased due to the content quality and visitor numbers of your site

Since when has visitor numbers to a site affected serps? :)

helleborine

2:14 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I took it to mean link popularity.

WebFusion

2:37 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I hardly slept a wink. I increased the number of proxies being denied in .htaccess from 9K to 70K.

First, if your income is that dependent on one source (i.e. adsense), you NEED to start looking into diversifying ASAP. No one entity outside of your own business plan should be able to determine your profitability.

Second, diversify your traffic away from google. If your competitor's site is such a lousy converter that a drop of a mere 3 places in rank can have a drastic effect on his oncome, he won't last long in this business anyway. You can outlast him (and make a TON more $$ in the process) by simply not relying on the same income sources as exclusively as he does. I can't imagine losing sleep over what a "competitor" might try to do to my site.

EVOrange

3:17 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



helleborine, has he actually done anything to you or are you just living in fear?

EVO

helleborine

3:25 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



No, he has done some things. I'm not imagining.

My site distributes "free widget plans" and is dependent on AdSense sponsorship.

There are a few plans for sale. I will have to more more in that direction. Thanks for the tip.

caspita

3:35 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I would say that instead of play the hide and seek with him.. let him come to you and use all that collection of IPs to show him alternate conten, no Ads or fake Ads that he can click on ;-) ... then you will find out if he is really trying to take you out of AdSense ... it sounds that you have the skills to do it and a simple PHP $_SERVER check will allow you to modify what you show to the visitor.

helleborine

3:53 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Maybe I could make my custom 403 page look like the site's front page, but with dummy ads?

I wish I could capture a screen shot, I could have dummy ads that look real, but would lead to one of my pages, which I could then track.

bose

4:05 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Sorry to hear about your difficulties.

If he is causing fraudulent clicks, he is not only causing you trouble, he is also costing the Adwords advertisers -many of whom may be from US -as well as possibly violating Google T&C. So just because you are not in US does not dilute your case considering that in all likelyhood there are other US based parties (advertisers, Google, etc) that are affected by his actions. Document the facts, and alert Google early on of the ongoing.

Blocking out proxies can help as long as you keep up with him. Keep a close eye on your logs and search for his known IPs on a daily basis. Sooner or later, you may have a proof in your logs of his activities. When you have that, report him. In my books, there is zero tolerance for such activities that drain advertising budget of innocent advertisors.

novice

4:05 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



"I wish I could capture a screen shot, I could have dummy ads that look real, but would lead to one of my pages, which I could then track."

You could copy one of the example ads that Google provides when you login. Although I'm not sure if Google would be happy with that.

incrediBILL

4:46 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Take the guess work out of it and install a script to monitor for reprtitive clicking by specific IP addresses and block them if it appears someone is trying to harm you. When you see 100 clicks in an hour, it *might* raise a red flag.

There are a couple of threads on AdSense tracking scripts:

[webmasterworld.com...]
[webmasterworld.com...]

Requires separate server side coding, someone may be willing to share with you.

helleborine

5:21 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I don't believe there has been fraudulent clicks so far, my AdSense stats are very stable.

I want to use an ounce of prevention against what I believe is a potential threat.

Any help with server-side scripting is appreciated, I have not a clue about that.

ownerrim

5:33 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



not to say this isn't happening...but it really isn't a logical thing to do. Getting site B kicked out of adsense doesn't help site A in the serps or with their traffic. What's the incentive?

jomaxx

5:43 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jomaxx is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



The tracking itself requires nothing on the server side - you just insert some extra Javascript code on the page. Doing that much will let you see most clicks and might give you some peace of mind.

incrediBILL

6:04 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator incredibill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



If you don't put a server side script in there *IS* no tracking.

The javascript just traps the clicks on the web page and relays it to the server. The server needs a script to catch the clicks reported, otherwise you can't track who's doing it and tally them just with javascript.

helleborine

6:32 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



"not to say this isn't happening...but it really isn't a logical thing to do. Getting site B kicked out of adsense doesn't help site A in the serps or with their traffic. What's the incentive? "

It's of no benefit to him. He's the revenge-minded kind. He's not rational.

bose

6:47 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Getting site B kicked out of adsense doesn't help site A in the serps or with their traffic. What's the incentive?

May be Site A is trying to deprive Site B of the resources that may potentially be used for funding further enhencements. May be he likes a poorly funded competitor in his niche. Who knows...

helleborine

6:55 pm on Mar 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



Thank you bose for much needed humour.

Poorly funded competitor, whatever rocks his boat!

This 47 message thread spans 2 pages: 47
 

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