Managing invalid traffic

Invalid traffic can be detected with Google’s sophisticated monitoring system. It can help you report, identify, and act on invalid clicks and impressions. Learn more about invalid traffic

How Google handles invalid traffic

When our system detects invalid traffic with your ads, we automatically filter these out of your reports. You're not charged for them and you still have the option to view the data.

You’ll be credited for any invalid interaction that escaped our automated detection in the past 2 months. To view these credits for invalid interactions:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account.
  2. Click the settings icon Tools and setting menu icon [Gear].
  3. Under "Billing", go to Transactions.

Any invalid interaction credits you've received will be labeled "Invalid activity" on the transaction history page and will be credited to you.

Invalid impressions in your account won't affect the CTR used for determining your keyword's Quality Score.

The Report Editor

The Report Editor is an analytical tool that allows you to engage with your data through multi-dimensional tables and charts.

  • A simple drag-and-drop interface lets you quickly build and manipulate multi-dimensional tables and charts, reducing the need to download your data for deeper analysis. 
  • Multi-segment analysis lets you slice and dice your data with finer granularity in your tables and charts.
  • Custom charts let you quickly visualize the patterns and trends in your data.
  • Advanced filtering and sorting allow you to filter on segmented metrics (e.g., mobile clicks) and sort by multiple columns.

Find out how to explore your data with the Report Editor.

Monitor invalid traffic yourself

If you're worried about invalid interactions in your account, there are a number of things you can do to monitor your account's activity.

  • Track invalid interactions in your account statistics: Add the invalid interaction data columns to your campaign statistics table to review the number and percentage of invalid interactions in your account. Remember that you aren't charged for these interactions, so they don't affect your account statistics.
  • Optimize your account: Your first line of defense against invalid activity is to optimize your account so your ads receive only the most targeted clicks and impressions. Keep in mind that conversion rate is one of the best indicators of successful advertising. Identify and correct low-conversion areas in your account to locate potential areas of invalid activity.
  • Monitor your account with Google Analytics: Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you monitor various aspects of your Google Ads account, including conversion rate, visitor behavior, and campaign performance. Google Analytics provides reports that you can use to refine traffic to your ads. You can also use auto-tagging to help track the performance of your keywords.
  • Monitor conversion rates on the Display Network: For campaigns opted in to to the Display Network, monitor your ads' conversion rates on Display Network sites with the placement report. If you notice that clicks from the Display Network aren't converting as well as clicks from Google or the Search Network, consider reducing your Display Network bids. If you find that a particular Display Network site isn't converting well, consider excluding it from your campaign.

Low conversion rates

A low conversion rate doesn't always mean that you're getting invalid interactions. A number of different factors can lead to high levels of traffic but relatively few sales. Here are some common causes of, and solutions to, low conversion rates:
  • Changes in market condition, user behavior, and web content may affect your campaign's performance: Some of our advertisers experience a lower return on investment (ROI) as their industries face increasing competition within the internet advertising marketplace. We recommend that you closely monitor the ROI for each of your keywords and ads. Also adjust your bids accordingly within the budget that's right for your business. Learn how bidding strategically can maximize your ROI
  • Sites that are difficult to navigate may drive away potential customers: Consider evaluating your site's overall design, layout, and functionality. With Google Analytics, you can understand if visitors typically leave your website at a certain point before making a purchase.
  • Your keywords and ad text may not be specific enough: If you use general keywords and ad text, someone may arrive at your site expecting to find something you don't offer. Highly targeted keywords and ad text will help ensure your ads show only to customers interested in your product or service.
  • Your campaign may not be optimized for the Display Network: If your campaign is opted into the Display Network but isn't optimized, your ads may appear on Display Network sites that are irrelevant to the products or services you're advertising. Visitors are more likely to make a purchase on your website if your ads pertain to the sites they're currently browsing. For best results, it's important that each of your ad groups contains a short, specific keyword list focusing on only one product or service. Learn more about optimizing for the Display Network
Note: In rare cases, a click may be deemed invalid and removed, but the conversion occurring from that click may not necessarily be. This can lead to conversions being higher than clicks in some rare instances.

Learn more about better understanding your ad traffic

Multiple clicks from the same IP address

Multiple clicks from the same IP address don't necessarily suggest invalid activity. There are several possible reasons why this happens:
  • Return visits: Individuals may click your ad more than once when comparison shopping or returning to your site for more information.
  • Shared IP addresses: Multiple clicks from a single source may be due to an Internet Service Provider (ISP) assigning identical IP addresses to multiple users. Certain ISPs distribute a relatively small number of shared, rotating IP addresses to a large number of users. As a result, multiple visitors may access your site from identical IP addresses, giving the impression of repeated clicks from a single visitor.
  • Web server logs: Your site's web server logs include data for all visitors to your site, not just those who arrived after clicking an ad. You may notice "Google.com" referrers from visitors who reached your site through the Google search results and not through your ad. Rest assured that your account is only charged for clicks your ads receive.
  • Third-party software: We've found that some reporting software records clicks between pages as a visitor navigates through your website. As a result, it may appear that you received a large number of clicks from a single visitor in a short period of time. For a more accurate way to track only Google Ads clicks, we recommend using auto-tagging.

Clicks from Google

Clicks on ads from within Google aren't charged to your account. You may notice this activity in your web server logs, but rest assured, you aren't charged for this activity. This also applies to Google's web-crawling robots.

Reporting invalid traffic

There are many common reasons for increased traffic that don't involve invalid interactions. However, if you suspect that your account is indeed affected by invalid interaction activity, we'll investigate your account.

Our team of specialists use a variety of different signals including click and impression information to identify sources of invalid activity. Because of the large number of data points we look at, an investigation into your account may take several business days to complete. When you request an investigation, please share as much information you have about the traffic you're concerned about.

Learn more about requesting a click investigation

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