I am often asked this question:
How can I stop my competitors from clicking my AdWords adverts and using up my budget?
This IS possible. And here’s how to do it.
Install a tracking software, such as Clicky.
Monitor the visitors over the period of a few days, or weeks. Now change the date selector to the correct time period, or the last 90 days. Now choose Most Active Visitors.
You will note that you will be able to see many IP addresses, many of whom will have visited repeatedly. I would now suggest you go through and identify yourself, and tag yourself and ideally remove your IP address from this process. Otherwise you will never be able to see your own ads.
Now start examining each IP address, 1 at a time, for suspicious behaviour. This might be repeatedly visiting your website for the same keyword, or different keywords, on different days. Note that this is not ALWAYS a problem, as some prospects may come back a few times before making a decision. Other things to look out for include the length of the visit, a very short visit may signify a competitor clicking your link then hitting the back button.
The next step is to write each IP address down that you regard as suspicious. You will then go and exclude these addresses from ever seeing your AdWords adverts ever again.
Now open AdWords and go into Campaigns – Settings – Advanced Settings – IP Exclusions – Edit then simply enter the IP addresses you wish to block. Can’t see the option? You need to upgrade your campaign to an Advanced Campaign with all features.
Note that you will need to exclude all the IP addresses for each and every campaign in your account. Select the first campaign and then paste the IP addresses in one after another.
What will this do?
These IP addresses have now been banned from seeing your AdWords adverts, so as far as they are concerned, they will believe you have actually stopped advertising.
An alternative method is to use a package such as AdWatcher, however having tested this in the past, I found it rather excessive and difficult to use for large accounts with a lot of adgroups. This is due to the fact each URL in your AdWords account must be changed to an AdWatcher URL. Having said, in cases where you will have more than 20 competitors clicking your adverts, it may be needed and certainly is effective! It works by redirecting the IP address to their server and a message warning them their activity is being logged as suspicious.
Prefer a more in-depth answer? This is one of the questions covered in my free AdWords webinar