Invalid traffic refers to clicks and impressions on ads that aren’t a result of genuine user interest, including intentionally fraudulent traffic and accidental or duplicate clicks. You won’t be charged for invalid clicks or impressions as they provide little or no value.
Google relies on a multi-layered approach to protecting advertisers from invalid traffic. While most invalid traffic is caught automatically in close to real time, our systems and team of experts continuously review traffic for new or previously undetected invalid traffic. Invalid traffic detected by Google will appear in different ways depending on when it was detected. For invalid traffic detected before the invoice is generated for that month, usage details will be accordingly adjusted, and you will not be billed for the traffic. However, for invalid traffic detected after the invoice is already generated, Google issues customers “invalid traffic credits,” where appropriate and possible, which appear on subsequent invoices and in account transaction history reports.
When credits are issued, the details of service associated with the invalid traffic being credited are also provided. These details include the original invoice number, original month of service, PO number, account budget name, and campaign name associated with the invalid traffic. You can find this information on the Summary page and the Billing Activity or Transactions page of your Google Ads account, as well as on your month-end invoice.
Types of invalid traffic
Below are some types of clicks and impressions that we consider to be invalid:
- Accidental clicks that have no value, such as the second click of a double-click
- Manual clicks meant to increase someone's advertising costs
- Manual clicks meant to increase profits for website owners hosting your ads
- Clicks and impressions by automated tools, robots, or other deceptive software
- Impressions meant to artificially lower an advertiser's clickthrough rate (CTR)
How Google protects you from invalid traffic
Google looks at numerous data points for each interaction such as:
- IP address
- Time of interaction
- Duplicate interactions
After examining various kinds of interaction patterns, Google tries to filter out potentially invalid interactions before they even show up in your account.
Google filters out invalid traffic from your report and credits you for any that escaped the automatic detection. Learn more about how to view the credit for invalid interactions
Common reasons for increased traffic
Just because you notice a spike in the number of clicks or impressions in your account doesn't always mean your ads are affected by invalid traffic. In most cases, these spikes in traffic are caused by other things.
Examples of why you might notice an increase in traffic:
- Changes in average daily budget: If you raise the average daily budget for your campaigns, it'll allow your ads to get more impressions and – naturally – more clicks.
- Changes in maximum CPC for keywords: Raising the maximum CPC (cost-per-click) for one or more of your keywords might allow your ads to show more often. It might also allow the ads to show in a higher position than before. That's also true for ads that show on the Display Network – a higher CPC can result in a higher position and therefore more impressions and clicks.
- Adding new keywords: Adding new keywords to your campaign, especially if the keywords are quite general or correspond to popular search queries, can increase the number of impressions and clicks you get.
- Ads are showing on new Display Network sites: If your ad campaign uses automatic placements and has enough average daily budget, your ads' traffic can significantly increase if it starts showing on a new publisher site.
- Seasonal trends or news events: Sometimes a sudden increase in interest in a specific topic can cause increased traffic – for example, if it's a special holiday or if someone famous blogs or talks about a particular topic.