Invalid Clicks is a catch-all term for any click on an ad that Google identifies as illegitimate or fraudulent. Google may flag any of the following as an invalid click:
When advertising on Google, invalid traffic and invalid clicks are often closely related to one another — the latter creates the former. Consequently, invalid traffic can be useful in identifying invalid clicks. With that said, it's important to understand that invalid traffic is far greater in scope than website traffic.
It refers to a range of illegitimate engagement activities and tactics, including:
Generally, no. Google Ads' invalid click protection tends to be fairly robust, and Google is usually accurate when it comes to identifying them. Any click it identifies as illegitimate is automatically removed from invoices.
However, no system is perfect, and even on Google, an invalid click may occasionally make it through. The onus is on you to identify the invalid click and claim a refund from Google. You can view refunded clicks under the Reports section of your Google Ads Dashboard by comparing Served Cost and Billed Cost.
Many of the metrics and KPIs you'll track as part of your ad campaign are calculated with clicks in mind, so a flood of illegitimate clicks can easily distort your data.
Like most black hat search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, invalid clicks are generally ineffective at actually sabotaging anyone. However, they can cause several problems when it comes to tracking and analytics:
The first step to protecting yourself from invalid clicks is to keep track of how often they appear in your reports — this can be viewed through the following steps:
Next, compare these metrics to your Served Cost and Billed Cost under Reports. This will allow you to identify if you've been erroneously charged for clicks that were flagged as invalid. If you have, you can request a refund by submitting a Click Quality Form to Google — make sure you collect as much evidence as possible prior to submitting this form.
With that in mind, other methods for tracking invalid clicks include:
Bear in mind that per the Google Ads TOS, any refund claims must be submitted within 60 days of the invoice date to be considered valid, and any credits issued as a refund must be used within 60 days of issuance. Approved refunds may take up to two weeks for Google to process, and your bank may require additional processing time.