Click Fraud and the Search Engines

It seemed like such a good idea. Choose the best search terms that fit your business, bid on them at Google, then pay only when a user clicks on your link and comes to your web site. Until your competition finds your link and runs up your account. Costing you wasted money. Keeping customers away from your web site.

Unfortunately, as of yet there is no way to prevent strangers from clicking on your pay-per-click links.

The problem is gaining more attention though, as the size of the industry increases.

h3. Key points:

Click fraud may represent as much as 10-20% of pay-per-click transactions, which is a multi-billion dollar industry.

Search engines themselves are getting scammed. Seen all those blogs and sites with Google AdSense on them? Google delivers text ads to match the content on the page. The site gets paid for the clicks that come from it. But at least Google has the technical and financial resources to detect the fraud and bring charges. Your typical small business does not.

Click fraud is even being outsourced! Some companies are hiring overseas workers to sit at computers and click their competitors’ paid links.

The price of keywords has only gone up. The article reports that the current rate for what you might think is a very obscure term—mesothelioma—is $51 per click. What is mesothelioma? The type of cancer that is related to asbestos contamination.

h3. Our Position

We have generally stayed away from pay-per-click advertising, due to the uncertainty, and our general skepticism of untargeted advertising. We love the internet, but that doesn’t mean we love everything about it. We’d rather see your effort go into quality content, a well-designed site, and generating substantial cross-linking.