People just love conspiracy theories. Usually they have to do with the government that controls the world. Now the emphasis is shifting to the companies that control the world (read Google). When Americans found out that their government was secretly listening to their conversations and reading their emails, the first to panic were the homestay moms in Iowa. Every time Google and Yahoo are accused of covering up the click fraud problem, we see businesses that don’t even advertise online screaming their lungs out.
One thing I’ve noticed is that news services love to cover click fraud. In my opinion, there are two reasons for this phenomenon. One, they tend to have little to say about SEO and other more complex issues. Two, people love to read about Google stealing $10,000 from their AdWords campaign, even if they spend $100 per month on pay-per-click advertising.
As a good example, BusinessWeek ran a cover story on click fraud for this week. From the article:
“The spreading scourge [click fraud] poses the single biggest threat to the Internet’s advertising gold mine and is the most nettlesome question facing Google and Yahoo, whose digital empires depend on all that gold.”
So is click fraud really a problem? Yes, it is. And yes, major search engines don’t like to talk about it. However, that does not mean that they are conspiring against your business.
You should know that there are plenty of other ways for you to lose money besides fraudulent clicks. Here are a few for you to consider:
Technical issues with your website. Are you monitoring the downtime of your website? If not, you should. How about dead links? How many potential customers have you lost to technical problems with your website?
Landing pages. Are you split testing your landing pages? Do you have custom landing pages for each of your products/services? How much money have you lost in wasted clicks because your visitors arrive at the landing page that is not targeted?
Ad copy. Do you use custom ad copies for each of your keywords? How much money have you lost paying for the visitors that are not interested in your product?
For an average BtoC website, 2% conversion rate is pretty good. If you are worried about money lost to click fraud, consider how much money you lose to wasted opportunities.