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The short answer is ‘NO’, there is no need for you to worry about spam bots using up your Google Ads campaign budget. That’s good news for business owners who rely on Google Advertising.
Why you don’t need to worry about spam bots coming through from Google Advertising
Google has built sophisticated ant-spam measures into its search engine. This is both to protect advertisers, as well as Google’s own infrastructure from being used by bots.
How do Google’s anti-spam measures work?
Have you heard of reCAPTCHA? When browsing the web, on occasion, you’ve probably needed to tick the little ‘I’m not a robot’ box — that’s reCAPTCHA in action.
Re-captcha originally started out as the squiggly letters that you had to type into the box. Sometimes the letters were so distorted that these were even a little tricky for humans to complete! The whole idea of reCAPTCHA is to weed out the bots from the humans. That’s what the squiggly letters were all about! Google’s systems have evolved significantly since then and you’ve probably come across the ‘I’m not a robot’ checkbox where you have to select images of cars, traffic lights and so on. Humans tend to be very good at these and are generally able to complete them within a few seconds. Bots on the other hand are not, making it close on impossible for them to complete the challenge.
Google protects you from spam bots simply by throwing up a reCAPTCHA challenge whenever it detects searches being run in quick succession or any other unusual activity (based on user account, IP address, device identifier and so on). And this is highly effective in stopping automated spam bots dead in their tracks. So no, there is no need to worry about spam bots chewing up your Google Ads budget. In addition to this Google has sophisticated systems in place to filter out any invalid or repeated clicks that might happen to come through from Google Ads anyway (you are never charged for any invalid clicks which Google detects). The more important question is how are spam bots making their way through your online enquiry forms?
With automated spam bots being unable to run automated searched on Google, in order to find websites to spam, they generally go for the ‘low hanging fruit’. This tends to involve bots ‘crawling’ directory sites like Yellow Pages, True Local and others, where they can just systematically follow links (from A to Z) straight through to your website without even having to search for keywords.
If you’re receiving significant amounts of bot generated spam through your site’s online enquiry forms try this:
- Ask your website designer to implement reCAPTCHA spam protection as a part of your online enquiry form. This generally weeds out 99% of spam from bots.
- You could also ask your website designer to implement a spam ‘honey pot’ as a part of your online enquiry form. This essentially involves setting up a form field which is invisible to humans, but most spam bots will see it and not be able to resist the temptation to fill it with automatically generated content. And when something is entered into the invisible spam ‘honey pot’ field, the enquiry doesn’t progress any further, and doesn’t clog up your inbox. Clever huh!
- Make sure you are not listing your email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) on your website. It’s a bad idea for many reasons (read our blog post here), and is an open invitation to spam bots.
So what’s the bottom line?
Don’t worry about spam bots chewing through your Google Ads campaign budget. Google has systems in place to make this close on impossible. Instead, it would be wise to beef up your own website’s anti-spam measures as listed above.
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