Wired: Google vs Click Fraud
Having said that, I am disappointed that the major search engines, Google and Yahoo, are not more proactive in dealing with PPC click fraud. In fact, I believe they perpetrate click fraud themselves. Think about search ads running on parked domains. These clearly aren't search ads. No one actively typed in the keywords to find something. Sure, they typed in a domain name directly. That's not the same as typing keywords into a search box. Not by any stretch of the imagination. Read the Search Engine Watch blog entry Google AdSense For Domains Program Overdue For Reform for more information on this issue. I think this is click fraud, perpetrated by Google itself. If Google AdWords advertisers could opt out of ads being displayed on parked domains, then this would not be fraudulent.
I had a case earlier this year for one of my clients where they received a spike in traffic from their Yahoo Search Marketing ads. Examining their web server logs, I was expecting to find some click fraud. Instead, what I found was a pile of traffic from Yahoo's buzz index. Essentially, Yahoo's staff writes about the top searches. For my money, clicks from the Yahoo buzz index should be content clicks, not search clicks. None of the people clicking from there had actively typed in my client's keywords. By creating editorial content about search, Yahoo was artificially inflating traffic to certain keywords. Unless the ads being displayed were content ads, my view is that this was click fraud, perpetrated by Yahoo. The behavior of the visitors to my client's site certainly looked like click fraud. This particular search keyword phrase was one of my client's best converting. They spent a month's worth of advertising in one day with no conversions. If that's not click fraud, I don't know what is.
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