Resources for publishers
Learn more about the traffic on your site, discover how to help prevent invalid activity, and get tips on how to safely increase traffic.
What you can do to prevent invalid activity
Best practices to prevent invalid activity
While we have strong systems in place to detect invalid activity, it's equally important that all publishers regularly review their traffic and ad implementations. If you're an AdSense publisher, we encourage you to read our beginner's guide to AdSense policies, as well as follow our program policies, and Terms and Conditions. If you're a Google Ad Manager publisher, we encourage you to read the Ad Manager Program Policies, including the Platforms program policies and Google Publisher Policies.
Additionally, you can follow these best practices to prevent invalid activity on your pages:
- Understand your traffic and site visitors by breaking down your traffic reports into meaningful segments or channels.
- Don't click your own ads, even if you're interested in an ad or looking for its destination URL. Instead, use the Google Publisher Toolbar, as described below.
- Additional guidance for AdSense Publishers:
- Be very careful when purchasing traffic and review the traffic provider checklist to help guide your discussions with potential providers. The checklist suggests questions to ask as you get to know the traffic provider. Their answers should help you understand exactly what type of traffic you'll get, so you can avoid buying from untrustworthy or low-quality providers.
- Double-check your ad implementations, then check them again. Make sure they are free from programming errors, conform to AdSense policies, and interact properly with different browsers and platforms. A well-implemented page can protect you from unintended consequences like accidental clicks. Encouraging accidental clicks is strictly prohibited, as outlined in our ad placement policies.
- Use the authorized sites feature to prevent unauthorized use of your ad code.
- Additional guidance for Google Ad Manager publishers:
- Review our guidelines for purchasing traffic to your site to better understand the implications of sourcing traffic from third parties. You should also review the traffic provider checklist to help guide discussions with potential providers.
- Familiarize yourself with our safeguards against invalid clicks and impressions, as well as our invalid traffic detection and filtration methodology.
Use AdSense Features
You can use the following AdSense features to view up-to-date information about your account, better understand performance metrics, and take action if you see problem ads.
- Homepage reports to view your earnings information
- The Ad review center to block or report problem ads
- Homepage cards to view your Google Analytics data
Use Google Ad Manager Features
Ad Manager provides several features to help you better understand your traffic and to troubleshoot issues:
- Ad Manager report metrics to learn about which metrics display the information you may need
- Segmenting traffic to better understand it
- Resolve issues in the Web policy center and App policy center
Your responsibilities as a publisher
As a publisher, it's important to understand the drivers and sources of traffic to your website. In extreme cases, an egregious traffic source that generates invalid clicks on your ads may lead to your account being disabled. Suspicious traffic may violate various AdSense program policies or Google Ad Manager policies for invalid activity and/or traffic sources, such as:
- Usage of automated bots that imitate user behavior
- Buying unrelated traffic from unknown networks
- Participating in pay-to-click programs
- Receiving traffic from unwanted email or software applications
Some publishers have asked for information about known sources of invalid traffic. Unfortunately, many of these sources frequently change their tactics, and in order to protect the effectiveness of our detection systems, we are unable to provide information about them. This is one reason why understanding your own traffic is important. Proactive identification of the quality of your traffic sources is a fast and effective way to protect your account from invalid activity.
Whether you're using a supply-side platform or are configuring your own ads, make sure your ads are set up correctly by watching out for alerts on rejected ad requests on AdSense or rejected ad requests on Google Ad Manager. These alerts indicate a risk of lower relevancy for your ads and the possibility that these ads may not even show up.
Finally, we encourage you to report any suspicious activity on your site with the Invalid Clicks Contact Form.
Optimize your site for increased traffic
There are two main ways to increase traffic by optimizing your site: web enhancements and new traffic acquisition.
Web enhancements such as optimizing ad placement and navigation can have a big effect on your traffic. Check out our Help Center article to learn how fast-loading pages, relevant content, and effective mobile sites can help increase traffic to your website.
It's important to remember the AdSense program policies, Google Ad Manager program policies, and Google's Webmaster Guidelines, when making changes to your site. For example, Google ads, search boxes, and search results may not be:
- Integrated into a software application of any kind, including toolbars (does not apply to AdMob)
- Displayed in pop-ups or pop-unders
- Placed in emails, email programs, or chat programs
- Obscured by elements on a page
- Placed on any non-content-based page (does not apply to AdSense for search or mobile AdSense for search)
- Placed on pages published specifically to show ads
- Placed on pages whose content or URL could confuse users into thinking it's associated with Google due to the misuse of logos, trademarks or other brand features
- Placed on, within, or alongside other Google products or services in a manner that violates the policies of that product or service
Ultimately, in order to promote and ensure a good experience for users and advertisers, clicks on Google ads must result from genuine visitor interest.
New traffic acquisition
Search engine optimization, advertising, and partnering with traffic providers are more good ways to generate more visits to your website.
Search engine optimization
Make sure your SEO is clean and adheres to Google policy by reading our Webmaster Guidelines, also referenced in the "Web enhancements" section. These best practices help create a site that Google can find, crawl, index, and understand.
For a more in-depth guide to SEO, please read our Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. In addition, as mentioned in the Understanding traffic on your site section below, Google Search Console Tools enable you to submit all of your pages to the Google index, which can increase your visibility by optimizing your website for Google search.
If you decide you to work with a search engine optimizer, we suggest the following:
- Ask for recommendations from webmasters you personally know and trust, or search for well-known optimizers with good reputations on the web. If possible, read what others have written about them in forums before working with them.
- If you choose an optimizer based on their reputation on the web, ask for examples of sites they have optimized. The sites should be as similar to yours as possible based on your content vertical, demographics, number of visits/month, and so on.
- Make sure that the SEO won't cause your site to contravene the Webmaster Guidelines, for example by purchasing links in order to increase your PageRank.
Check out this Search Engine Optimization help article for more helpful tips and things to consider.
You're welcome to use online advertising as a way to direct new users to your website, but if they link to pages with Google ads, they are required to comply with the spirit of our landing page quality guidelines.
The three main components of a high-quality landing page are relevant and original content, transparency, and site navigability. Please read the use of online advertising article in our Help Center to learn more about each of these components.
We also prohibit the following techniques:
- spam emails
- comment spamming
- fake forum profiles
- posting links on link farms and 'private blog networks', link exchanges and social network spamming.
Partnering with traffic providers
You're welcome to promote your website in any manner that complies with our program policies, but remember that publishers are ultimately responsible for the traffic to their ads. So if you choose to partner with a third-party service to increase traffic to your site, it's critical that you monitor your reports closely to gauge the impact of each source on your ad traffic.
There are many services that promise to increase traffic to your site, including pay-per-click solutions to connect advertisers and publishers, as well as search engines and directory sites. However, we've found that some of these services send artificial traffic to websites, despite their reputable appearances. To deliver the traffic levels that their customers expect, these services sometimes generate clicks and impressions using clickbots or by providing users incentives to visit sites and click on ads.
For more information on how to avoid partnering with low-quality traffic providers, please refer to Proactive steps to prevent invalid activity section of this page. Specifically, the traffic provider checklist provides suggested questions to ask when you begin exploring how you and the traffic provider might work together. If you decide to go ahead, it's critical that you have the ability to monitor the traffic they send to your site.
Google Ad Manager partners
While we have strong systems in place to detect invalid activity, you are ultimately responsible for regularly reviewing your traffic and the ad implementations on your site. It's also important to maintain compliance with Google Ad Manager Partner Guidelines.
Check out the sections below for helpful tips and to learn more about your responsibilities as an Ad Manager publisher. Certain elements of Google Ad Manager, such as Multi Customer Management, come with their own best practices.
Your responsibilities as a Google Ad Manager publisher
Make sure your ads comply with Google Ad Manager Partner Guidelines and Platform Program Policies. These policies include details on things like ad placement, content, advertising, privacy and invalid activity.
Whether you use a supply-side platform or configure your own ads, make sure they're set up correctly by watching out for alerts on rejected ad requests. These alerts indicate a risk of lower relevancy for your ads and the possibility that these ads may not be showing.
Tips for Multi Customer Management
Scaled Partner Management is a unique feature of Google Ad Manager. If you're new to Scaled Partner Management, the best practices guide in the Ad ManagerAdX help center offers recommendations for linking and setting up new accounts. You should also review the Google Ad Manager Partner Guidelines to better understand our policies with regard to Scaled Partner Management.
Understanding your website traffic
As a publisher, there are several best practices to better understand the traffic to your websites. In this section, we'll discuss how Google's Search Console Tools can give you insight into that traffic. We also outline how tools like Google Analytics can help you segment your traffic to identify your traffic sources and how those sources perform relative to one another.
Google Search Console Tools
Some of the best strategies for driving visitors to your websites and improving the visibility of your pages can be found in Google's Search Console Tools. These tools allow you to submit all your pages to the Google index, then view the common words that link to your pages and in turn are recognized by Google.
Google Search Console Tools also let you see trends in your site content, which can help you work out your ranking for particular keywords. You can also see which page has the highest pagerank by month. This information can help you decide how to best prioritize your time when optimizing ads on your site.
Google Search Console Tools also show you which Google searches create click-throughs to your site and where you're positioned in the search results for that query. You can even segment your traffic and view data for individual properties and countries - for instance, which user queries from Google Images searches in the United States returned your site in the results. For more information, see "Segmenting your traffic" below.
Segmenting your traffic
Site analytics programs, such as Google Analytics, can help you track and review traffic on your sites. These programs show you what type of visitors are viewing your pages, what they do on your site, and if they are engaging with your ads and content.
Segmenting your traffic allows you to set up your ad units and custom channels in such a way that you can see all your traffic sources clearly and monitor how each one performs. Whether you're new to AdSense or a long-time publisher, these insights can be very useful. Custom channels let you track the performance of specific groups of ad units in AdSense.
Granular traffic segmentation will also allow you to identify your traffic sources at any given time and see how they perform relative to one another. With this data, you can find out how people are reaching your site and whether you can optimize your traffic sources. You can also integrate your AdSense account with Analytics or link your Google Ad Manager and Google Analytics accounts to get more insight into how to tailor your content and ads to your site's users.
Moreover, segmenting your traffic can help you identify potential invalid activity more quickly, and help you make appropriate changes to keep your account in good order. Proactively monitoring the performance of your traffic sources lets you make informed decisions and spot potential sources of bad traffic. Be on the lookout for any suspicious user behavior. Ask questions like, "Where do my users come from, geographically and on the web? Which pages do they view on my site?"
We encourage all publishers to look for anomalies in their data, monitor the strength of their traffic sources, and understand how to remain compliant with program policies.
Frequently asked questions
We know you may have questions about your AdSense and Google Ad Manager accounts, so we've provided the answers to some frequently asked questions below:
Questions about invalid activity
I'm worried my account is getting invalid traffic. What can I do?
To find out if there's anything suspicious about your account's traffic, we encourage you to review your site's traffic logs regularly and identify any anomalies.
We'd recommend taking a close look at all AdSense or Google Ad Manager referral sites found in your web analytics reports and/or your site's web log history. You should investigate any unusual increase in a particular traffic source from another country, website, or IP address.
If you find a traffic source that seems suspicious, you can block that IP address or referral URL. We also highly recommend monitoring any website optimizers you may be working with.
Segmenting your traffic sources can also help you identify sources of problematic traffic and make appropriate changes to keep your account in good order.
How do I find out which traffic source is generating invalid activity in my account?
To identify the source of invalid traffic, we recommend splitting your traffic into channels, as discussed in Understanding traffic on your site. This will help you see which traffic campaigns are performing well, the user behavior on your site, the demographics of your user base, and so on. You can also use tools like Google Analytics to investigate specific sources of traffic to your site.
Unfortunately, in order to protect the effectiveness of our detection systems, we can't share information about specific traffic sources that are known to send invalid traffic.
Can you provide more information about the invalid activity you detected on my account?
We know you may be concerned by any actions taken by our Ad Traffic Quality team on your account, but please be assured that these actions only happen following a careful and detailed investigation.
Due to the policies we've implemented to protect the privacy of our users, and the proprietary nature of our algorithms, we cannot disclose certain details about how our monitoring technology works or what specifics we find in the accounts, such as the source and timing of invalid clicks. For the security of our advertisers, we also want to be sure that these details can't be used by someone wishing to evade detection in the future.
Please also note that we reserve the right to take action on what we consider to be invalid activity, and may disable accounts for any reason, including invalid traffic from any source, in order to protect our advertisers.
What are some examples of invalid activity?
Invalid activity can take many forms, including bot traffic, click farms, incentivized clicks, and accidental clicks.
One of the more malicious forms of invalid activity is bot traffic. Bot traffic generally comes from computers that have been infected by malware or otherwise remotely controlled by a third party. The malware or hijacker can install software on the hijacked computer, which can then be used to perform any number of illicit tasks, one of which may be to load ads and click on them.
Another type of malicious invalid activity comes from click farms, which are large groups of people paid to view and click on ads.
Some traffic providers may appear to provide legitimate site visitors but may actually be delivering invalid traffic, such as bot traffic or clicks from a click farm. For this reason, we strongly urge you to use caution when partnering with third-party traffic services. The traffic provider checklist can help guide your discussions with any potential traffic provider.
Incentivized clicks are when users aren't actually interested in viewing the ad content or landing page, but are motivated to click on ads for other reasons. A simple example of this is when a publisher encourages users to click on its ads by saying "Help keep my site free by clicking my ads!" or offers some sort of reward for users who click ads.
Accidental clicks are, as the name implies, clicks where users didn't intend to click on the ad. They often occur as a result of poor ad placement. Please review our Ad placement policies to learn more. For example, ads should be clearly distinguished from other website content, such as menu, navigation, and download links.
Will I be punished for things like web crawlers that visit my page?
No, standard web crawlers are a normal part of Internet traffic. Our signals and filters can tell the difference between simple web crawlers and malicious botnets, so we won't penalize you if we detect one. However, since we don't charge advertisers for these non-human impressions and clicks, you also won't generate revenue from this traffic.
Questions about earnings
Why is there a difference between my estimated and finalized earnings?
The reports in your AdSense account are intended to give you a close estimate of the current activity on your account. However, many factors can affect the amount that is ultimately paid to you.
Once earnings are finalized, they are posted to your Payments page. Any revenue discovered to be from invalid clicks or impressions is credited back to the affected advertisers where possible. If your account is disabled for invalid activity, all revenue in the account will be credited to advertisers where possible and appropriate and you will not be eligible to receive payment.
On your account homepage you can find the following information:
- Estimated earnings. Close estimates of your recent account activity from today, yesterday, this month so far, and last month
- Finalized earnings. This section displays two levels of earnings:
- Current balance of your earnings that have not yet been paid out. This may not reflect the total amount of payment you receive. Google may make adjustments to the amount, including rounding discrepancies, invalid activity that needs to be adjusted from your earnings, or other month-end credits as necessary.
- Most recent payment that you've received from Google.
We may make adjustments to your estimated or finalized earnings to account for invalid impressions or clicks, which means we may remove earnings from your payable balance. To prevent invalid activity on your account, make sure to investigate any changes in traffic sources that you've experienced over the last payment cycle. We recommend taking a close look at all referral sites found in your web analytics reports and/or your site's web log history.
Investigate any unusual increase in a particular traffic source from another country, website, or IP address that matches the time period in which your finalized earnings differed from your estimated earnings. Once you've identified a suspicious traffic source, you can block that IP address or referral URL. We also highly recommend closely monitoring any website optimizers you're working with.
For more information about preventing invalid activity, please see the Proactive steps to prevent invalid activity and Things to keep in mind when looking to increase traffic articles.
Do estimated earnings account for invalid activity?
In most cases, estimated earnings exclude the majority of detected invalid traffic. Our real-time filters assess impressions and clicks as they occur, and if they are found to be invalid, advertisers are not charged and no revenue is generated.
This unearned revenue doesn't always show up in front-end reports in real time, but is sometimes updated at the end of the month instead, so that estimated earnings may not match finalized earnings. This is not so much "removed" revenue as revenue that was never earned by either the publisher or Google, since the advertisers were never charged for the traffic.
Questions about disabled and duplicate accounts
Why was my account disabled? What can I do to reinstate it?
Google is committed to protecting both advertisers and publishers from invalid traffic. Therefore, if we believe your account poses a risk to our advertisers, we may disable it to protect Internet users, our advertisers, and other publishers.
If your account is disabled due to invalid traffic, we will withhold all unpaid revenue. Where appropriate and possible, we will credit that unpaid revenue, including all of Google's share, to any affected advertisers.
If you're an AdSense publisher you can to appeal our decision by completing our online appeal form. Google Ad Manager publishers can use this appeal form. We will review your case as quickly as we can and take the appropriate action. To help our specialists investigate your case, please include as much information as possible in your appeal. This is your chance to help us understand why we may have seen invalid activity on your account.
Please note that an appeal does not guarantee reinstatement. Once we've reached a decision on an appeal, we consider it to be final and will not accept any further appeals.
My account is disabled. Can I open a new account?
If we disable your account due to invalid activity or a violation of Program Policies, you will no longer be able to participate in AdSense or Google Ad Manager, or monetize through other products such as AdMob. If you feel that your account was sabotaged or otherwise unfairly disabled, you can appeal for reinstatement through our online appeal form for AdSense or by contacting your Google Ad Manager account manager.
Can I have multiple AdSense accounts?
No, you can only have one AdSense account or Google Ad Management account per payee name.
Questions about site traffic
Can I use traffic exchange for my site?
While traffic exchange services aren't strictly prohibited, some exchange services may lead to invalid clicks or impressions. You are ultimately responsible for the traffic to your site, so if you decide to use a third-party service to increase your traffic, it's critical that you monitor your reports to gauge the impact that each source has on your ad traffic and the types of visitors it brings. If you start noticing suspicious activity, we recommend that you stop using these services to keep your account in good order.
To learn more about traffic exchange, see About traffic exchange programs.
How do I avoid partnering with bad traffic providers?
It's not always easy to determine whether a source of traffic is legitimate or not, but our Traffic provider checklist contains helpful questions to ask before agreeing to work with a provider.