If you have a Google Adsense account always check your Invalid Traffic – AdSense for Content and your policy enforcement.
Many bloggers earn a regular monthly income by displaying advertising on their sites. But there are sometimes some deductions at the end of each month.
If you are new to Adsense it can come as a nasty surprise.
But it is quite normal to have a small deduction. However, if it is not small, you need to take some action.
Getting started with Adsense
Do you want to register for Google Adsense and host ads on your blog? You can create your Adsense account by applying by using your Google account and a valid email address.
Be patient, however, as it can take time to get your approved Adsense account.
I know no one ever reads the terms and conditions on a site. But you really must do so to understand what is expected of new Adsense publishers and learn how to earn money from advertising.
Google wants to have its ads displayed on quality sites with well written and focused content.
So while it is reviewing your application, you should be adding as much original content as you can to help your site’s chances of being accepted into the advertising program.
When your Adsense account is approved, you can begin to participate in Adsense by having contextual advertisements displayed on your site pages.
You can decide on the type of ad and ad sizes to suit your page layout. Native ads and auto ads are the easiest to implement, but you can also choose between text and display ads.
The program is based on cost per click. This means that you will get paid for every valid click on one of your ads.
The Google Adsense program is an easy way to monetize a blog, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you abide by the program policies.
You need to read the Adsense terms and conditions carefully. Make sure you understand the rules to avoid your account being suspended.
There are some who believe that it can slow down a site or that the returns are not worth the effort.
It may have been true in the past, but I can only say that I have made very good money online from advertising. If you implement Adsense correctly, there is almost no adverse effect on site speed.
What you need to check regularly on your Adsense account
Once you have ads set up and running on your site, there is very little for you to do.
Adsense places the Google ads on your site, and when people click, you get paid.
But some site owners are unaware of two critical factors to check. If you don’t check, it could result in your account being suspended or permanently disabled.
One is when you see a jump in invalid traffic – Adsense for content. The other is when you have policy violations.
Google explains these two issues in detail in the Adsense help pages. But it doesn’t give a lot of details about how you can check your account and fix your problems.
How to check for invalid traffic activity and fix it
The definition of invalid activity is in general terms related to accidental clicks or invalid click activity, ad clicks by the site owner or the use of click farms.
Invalid clicks can also be the result of ad implementations that do not conform with Google Ads program policies.
However, although most site owners abide by all the rules, invalid ad traffic will still occur on every site, and it is perfectly normal.
Google prevents invalid traffic by using complex algorithms. At the end of each month, after this check, you will find that there will always be a small deduction.
How to check invalid clicks in Google Adsense?
You can locate this information when you click on the Payments tab of your Adsense dashboard.
Then click on View Transactions. You can set the date range if you want to check your previous monthly payments.
You will see the line for each payment. Invalid Traffic – Adsense for Content.
If your deduction is one or two per cent or less, it is perfectly normal, and you have no concerns at all.
But, if you see that your Adsense invalid traffic deduction is more than four or five per cent, you really need to take some action.
Even though you think you are doing everything according to the Adsense guidelines, you can suffer a sizable deduction from your monthly payment from Google.
The problem is that Google doesn’t give you a hint or a clue as to why you have suffered a deduction. Transparency is not Google’s strong point.
So you have to figure it out for yourself.
If you are clicking on your own ads or your account is being hit by click farms, the reasons are obvious. But this is rarely the cause for a well-maintained account.
The most common, but hard to find reasons are usually that the type of traffic sources you are getting to your site is of low quality.
It is not explained very well, but this quote from Adsense help and the Adsense Program Policies is relevant.
Some publishers have had issues with invalid traffic when partnering with low-quality ad networks, search engines, or directory sites in efforts to increase traffic to their site.
I had a sudden increase in my invalid traffic deduction one month, and it took me quite a while to figure out what the problem was.
For years it had always been between one and three per cent, but in this one particular month it jumped up to over ten per cent.
After a lot of investigation, I discovered a huge jump in referral traffic from Flipboard and Medium in that month.
Google Adsense for search doesn’t say in so many words, but it much prefers search engine traffic over social media traffic. It is all about the intent of the user and relevant ads.
Someone using Google search when they want to buy something has intent. This is what advertisers pay for.
But someone flipping through lots of articles on Flipboard or Medium, and by chance, landing on one of my pages and clicking an ad, has no intent.
If you get a lot of your traffic from social media, you are more likely to see a higher percentage reduction at the end of the month.
If you want to earn more with your Adsense account you can improve your monetization skills. Do this by keeping a close eye on your traffic that might be causing invalid activity.
Where can you check for this information? The easiest way is to use Google Analytics.
Go to the Publisher tab and then Publisher Referrers.
Now check your report for social referring networks that have a high click count.
In the month that I had a problem, there was an extraordinary number of clicks from Flipboard and Medium.
The solution was easy. I stopped sharing on both platforms. When I stopped sharing on these two platforms, my invalid activity Adsense returned my deduction to normal at less than one per cent.
The lesson here is that Google Adsense for content really does prefer organic search engine traffic. So go easy on social media if you want to maximise your income from Adsense.
Proof of the reduction in invalid traffic
After reducing my site’s social media sharing even more over the following month, the result was conclusive.
With only a few social media shares on Twitter and Facebook and no reposting at all on Medium and Flipboard, my invalid traffic reduction for the month was only one solitary cent.
This was for a month that earned nearly one thousand dollars in advertising revenue.
In my mind, this is certainly enough proof to show that Google pays for organic traffic clicks and not for social media traffic earned clicks.
The lesson is that if you want to earn money from the Google Adsense Program, concentrate your efforts on getting organic traffic from search results.
You need to be patient when trying to find out why you have earnings deductions. Once you check and make the changes, you have to wait for the next monthly payment cycle to find out if you got it right.
It’s certainly is a pain, but that’s the way it is.
Beware of images too close to your ads
Another big issue that can cause invalid traffic is when your ads are too close or aligned with an image. It is not so important for banner ads, but for in-article ads, it can be a critical factor.
This problem is terribly hard to check if you have hundreds of blog posts and you are using an ad inserter on WordPress to manage your Adsense ad placement.
Here is an example of an ad landing immediately below an image.
The best way around this issue is to add more space around your ad units so that there is clear space between your text, images and ads.
Depending on which ad inserter plugin you use, you can usually edit your CSS to add some extra space.
I had this problem after a site redesign. In the first month after the site changes, I suffered a 10 per cent invalid traffic deduction.
After realising what the problem was, I rectifying it by adding 50px of space around every ad. You should experiment with the extra space to see what works best for your site.
After I changed the CSS spacing, the following month saw my invalid click deduction back to less than 0.3 per cent.
Check your Adsense policy enforcement report
If you haven’t checked this, you should do so once a month at least.
The report concerns your content page on to which Google serves ads. If your content is considered not suitable, Google will refuse to display ads on that page.
Years ago, Google sent you an email if there was a policy problem with one or more of your website pages.
But now, it appears that you have to check yourself because these polite email alerts have stopped. I don’t know why this is, but it is.
However, the report is located in a weird place that you would never think to check. It is in the Settings tab.
Click on Settings and then Policy centre.
There can be many reasons why a problem occurs. In my case, because I write about book publishing, I wrote an article concerning book promotion difficulties for authors of erotica.
The notice I got was concerning this page. Apparently, the word was considered sexual content by Google.
I had two choices to remedy the issue.
One was to change the content of my article. If I did this, I would have to ask for a review from Adsense.
The second choice was to remove all ads from this one page. If you take this option, it does not need a review. The issue will be solved after seven to ten days, and the notice will then disappear.
I chose the second option and everything was fine again by Google after a week or so.
Adsense can be a very good money earner, and I make a nice monthly income from it.
However, the responsibility of keeping your Adsense account healthy and conforming to all the terms and conditions is with the site owner.
This applies whether you have a hosted Adsense account for your Youtube videos channel or Blogger, or a non-hosted account for your site.
Many bloggers have their accounts suspended or disabled because they fail or don’t know how to follow the rules.
The Adsense user forum is full of tales of woe. They are usually through not reading and understanding the rules, or blatantly breaking them.
You should check your account regularly, and not just your daily desktop earnings report.
Dig deeper and improve your monetization skills. Learn how to stay alert to changes in your traffic patterns and referrals.
But most all, check your invalid activity and policy enforcement page.
Note: If you are new to Adsense, you can register for Google Adsense on Air, which is a monthly Livestream series to learn more.
I started my working life as a lithographer and spent over 30 years in the printing and publishing business.
Originally from Australia, I moved to Switzerland 20 years ago. My days are spent teaching English, writing and wrestling with technology while enjoying my glorious view of Lake Geneva and the Alps.
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