When you monetize your blog with Google Adsense, you need to know how to protect your Adsense earnings.
It’s not unusual to see a small deduction on your account each month for invalid traffic. But if the deduction is more than 1%, you should investigate the issue.
For bloggers who are relatively new to Adsense, it comes as a shock if your account is restricted, or worse, suspended.
Fortunately, you can take some simple steps to protect your account and keep it in good order.
Invalid Adsense clicks and traffic
The reasons for invalid activity are usually due to clicks and traffic.
Invalid clicks include clicking on your own ads. That’s an absolute no-no. If you accidentally click on one of your ads, close the window instantly, then kick yourself.
Another cause of invalid clicks is if you pay people to click on your ads. Never ever do this.
But the most common type of bad click behavior is when someone intentionally and repeatedly clicks on your ads.
They are sometimes called click-bombers. Often driven by spite or jealousy, they try to get you suspended and deprive you of your income.
I had one episode like this some time back, and the only solution was to block the user’s IP address. More on how to do this later.
Another form of click-bombing is click-bot traffic. These people use software to hit your site continuously and can result in invalid traffic or clicks.
Lastly is how you get traffic to your site. Adsense prefers organic search engine traffic from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines.
While social media traffic can help your earnings a little, it shouldn’t be your primary source of traffic.
But the biggest traps are using link schemes, directory sites, and low-quality ad networks to increase your traffic quickly.
If you follow the rules and most of your traffic comes organically from search engines, you shouldn’t have too many problems.
However, if you see a sudden and unexpected spike in your daily Adsense earnings, you should immediately check your click traffic.
Three ways to protect your Adsense earnings
When you read the advice on Google Adsense Help about invalid traffic, it says:
AdSense publishers are ultimately responsible for the traffic on their ads.
In other words, the responsibility falls on a blog owner. Although Google Adsense offers some helpful advice, you are generally on your own if you get into trouble.
You can try to contact Google Adsense, but you are usually directed to the community forum.
Another tip from Adsense is:
Use Google Analytics to get detailed information about your site visitors.
While this is good advice, what is missing from the Google Analytics User Explorer report is tracing a malicious user by IP address.
If you identify a malicious user, you can see the Client ID and Big Query Client ID.
You can use this information to report invalid clicks to Google Adsense.
However, when you lodge this form, it asks you to indicate suspicious IP addresses and referrers.
So how can you get the IP addresses and referral routes for visitors on your site?
1. Install Statcounter to analyze your traffic
Unlike Google Analytics, Statcounter provides you with the IP addresses of your site visitors.
You can view the 500 most recent visits with a free account, which is fine for most bloggers.
But if you have a lot of traffic, it costs only $9.00 per month to track 100,000 visits.
It’s easy to install on a WordPress site. You only need to add a few lines of code.
I use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin because it makes it easy to add the code.
While Statcounter says you need to paste the code in the body section, I checked with them and now have the code in the footer. It helps your pages load a little faster.
Once you are up and running, you will have access to a lot of information about your site traffic.
Tracking ad clicks
The most useful feature with Statcounter is that it shows you every Adsense click. It makes it so easy to check how often a user is clicking your ads.
I have grayed out a little of the data for privacy. But you can see the IP address at the top next to the country.
Should you notice a visitor that is clicking on multiple ads, you can set up an alert.
You can see in the image above that there are three ad clicks for this visitor in one short session of 25 seconds. The visitor arrived from a Facebook referral link and was using an iPhone.
The red arrow points to the tag I added to set up an alert. Should the visitor return, Statcounter will send an email alert. If the same visitor persists in clicking ads, you can take action.
When you identify a malicious user, knowing the IP address and referral route gives you the possibility to take different steps.
You can now include the IP address, referral link, and browser type when you report it to Google for invalid clicks.
But if you believe it is a case of click-bombing, the next step you can take is to block the user.
How do you block someone from your site?
2. User blocking with Wordfence
Wordfence is installed on over 4 million sites, so there’s a good chance that you already have it protecting your site.
It’s one of the best free plugins to secure and protect your site from malicious bots, attempted logins, and hackers.
Like Statcounter, you can see all users’ IP addresses.
You can use the live traffic option to see this, but it is server-intensive and can really slow down your site.
It’s also difficult to search and filter. The best practice is to set security-related traffic only.
But Wordfence has one tool that can protect you if you identify a click-bomber. You can quickly create a blocking rule.
You only need to add the IP address and a note with the reason. The user is then immediately blocked from accessing your site.
3. Add Cloudflare protection
If your site is not using Cloudflare, you should really consider using it.
It’s quite easy to set up. You only need to change your DNS settings and add a few page rules for WordPress.
With Cloudflare, your site will be faster, especially if you use cache-everything, and it will also be much more secure.
You can use it along with Wordfence, but Cloudflare adds a much stronger layer of protection.
The firewall protects you from bots and hackers before reaching your server.
Therefore, if you want to block a user by IP address, it’s better to do it on Cloudflare.
Again, you only need to add the IP address and a note.
Usually, a captcha challenge is enough to dissuade a user. But if the user is stubborn, you can change it to block.
With these three free tools, you will be able to protect your Adsense earnings with a high degree of confidence.
With Statcounter, you can see every visitor to your site, and by checking the exit links report, you will see every Adsense click.
You can also see the Adsense slotname, so you know which ad on your page was clicked.
It’s the easiest and most effective way to monitor and analyze your site’s traffic and catch any user who could be a threat to your ads.
With Cloudflare as your first line of defense and Wordfence as your second working together, you have all the defensive tools you need to counter any threats.
I also use a Cloudflare block or challenge to thwart comment spambots. So it can help you in other ways as well.
Don’t think you can rely on your data from Google Analytics alone to help you protect your Adsense earnings from invalid traffic.
The three tools I have listed in this article will serve you much better in monitoring and managing your site’s traffic.