ClickCease Blog
How can you block IP addresses in Google Ads

How to Block an IP Address on Google Ads

Google Ads is the search platform with the most robust targeting options. But a Google Adwords IP exclusion was not always an option for advertisers.

With the rise of click fraud in Google Ads, this IP blocking option is a godsend. PPC fraud, also known as click fraud or ad fraud, is when your paid links receive non-genuine clicks. These clicks can come from competitors, bots, click farms or even bad ad placements.

The consequences of these low quality clicks can be detrimental to your business marketing, including having your ad account drained, lost revenue, and even customers lost to competitors.
In this guide, we will explain how and why you should go about blocking bad IP addresses in Google Ads.

How to block IP Addresses in Google Ads:

  1. Sign in to your Google Ads account (ads.google.com)
  2. Click “Settings” from the page menu on the left
  3. Choose which campaign to exclude IP addresses from
  4. Click to expand the “IP exclusions” section (if you can’t see the “IP exclusions” section, click “Additional settings”)
  5. Enter the IP addresses you want to exclude
  6. Hit “Save”
Screenshot of Google Ads settings for IP exclusion

The first step in blocking an IP address: select “Settings” from the left-hand menu
Screen grab of Google Ads IP address blocking settings

You’ll need to open “Additional Settings”
Screen grab of IP exclusions list on Google Ads dashboard

Here you’ll see “IP Exclusions”. Set these up, and don’t forget to click “Save”

It’s also important to mention that you can exclude certain geographic areas through your targeting process, but this is probably too broad of an exclusion for most campaigns, especially when you have identified problematic IP addresses.

Why Do You Need to Block IP Addresses?

Blocking an IP address is a strong measure, however it’s a very powerful way to protect your ads from being taken advantage of. There are various situations in which you would want to block an IP address.

Repetitive clicks/competitors

If you see that a certain IP address is constantly clicking your ads and not converting, and even better, if you see that the IP is geographically located in the same area as a competitor, you’d want to block that IP address immediately. You’re probably both bidding on the same keywords, so your competitor will know exactly how to trigger your ad showing, and will be able to easily click it.

Bot traffic and click farms

Taking this one step further are click farms, or bot traffic. These are services for hire that offer clicking as a service, which can be on anything from social media accounts to your PPC ads. In fact, these click farms and click bots offer their services openly on the internet

And that’s not all. There are also Paid to Click sites (PTC) which pay remote workers a few cents for each ad they click or watch, easy to hire bots which can inflate a publishers Adsense payout and bot traffic services offering to click your competitors off the search rankings.

These click farms can flood your PPC ads with clicks, potentially costing you your daily ad budget and removing you from the SERPS for the rest of the day. Meaning: Lost customers.

Brand haters

Funny story – not everyone loves your brand. It might be an ex-employee, or someone who thought your service wasn’t up to scratch. Maybe they don’t like your advertising, or you sponsored their rival soccer team?

And people are increasingly aware that they can affect a brand by using their own dirty protest in the form of click fraud. Consider the action of Manchester United fans who organised a click fraud campaign against their own clubs sponsors in protest at the owners actions.

Ad fraud

An organised form of click fraud, ad fraud is when publishers intentionally inflate the traffic on their ads to collect a payout. Normally these are operated by organised fraudsters who manage bots and fake websites, and can be making hundreds of thousands each day by siphoning off advertising revenue.

Ad fraud can also use sneaky practices such as hiding display or video ads within an unviewable segment of a website or app.

They can use multiple types of devices and operating systems, and even mask their location, usually with VPNs. VPNs usually cycle through different IP addresses, which means it can be hard to spot or block these bad IP addresses.

Read more about click fraud in our guide.

Is There a Difference Between Excluding and Blocking IP Address?

Excluding an IP address is essentially blocking that address from visiting your website or seeing your ads.

When it comes to analytics however, these terms take on different meanings. You would want to exclude certain IP addresses to get a more accurate picture of your campaign’s results.

For example, one of the IP addresses you’d want to exclude would be your own. Clicks on your website (or worse: your ads) from your own company are of course irrelevant in your metrics and analysis, and should be excluded by default.

This also holds true in the case where you have identified the IP addresses of a competitor or click farm. You should exclude these IP addresses from your analytics results in order to see the true picture of the state of your campaigns.

The method is managing a blacklist, or exclusion list, of bad IP addresses that will never be able to click on your Google Ads campaigns.

Why is Manual IP Exclusion Useless When it Comes to Click Fraud?

Manually excluding IP addresses is great, especially if you are only interested in blocking the occasional personal IP address that is associated with your household, workplace or specific competitor. It is not recommended if you suspect you are dealing with high volumes of malicious activity such as click fraud.

Why is manual IP exclusion useless when it comes to click fraud?

  • Click Velocity – Fraudulent IP clicks often happen in a burst, with the clicks piling up extremely quickly. If you are manually excluding an IP, the majority of the damage will have already been done before you get to excluding it
  • Wasted Money – By the time you will identified a fraudulent IP, the competitor or bot will have wasted a healthy portion of your advertising budget
  • Time Consuming – Going over your web logs, discovering which IP addresses need to be excluded and then manually excluding them is very time-intensive

Clearly, a more effective strategy is needed.

How Does Automatic IP Exclusion Work?

By leveraging third party software, it becomes much simpler to perform the necessary detection and automatically exclude IP addresses.

How does automatic IP exclusion work? When it comes to click fraud, there are 3 steps for automatic IP exclusion.

  • Monitoring: Adding code to your Google Ads campaign and to your landing pages that will let the anti-click fraud software collect the necessary data points
  • Detecting: Now that you have collected the data, the anti-fraud algorithm can do its job. Many data points come into the decision making of what is, and what isn’t, fraud.
  • Blocking: Once the fraudulent IP addresses that need to get blocked have been identified, they are instantly inputted into your AdWords excluded IP list.

As we have seen, the exclusion of an IP address is simple, whether done manually or automatically by a third party such as ClickCease. What you really need to ask yourself is WHY you are blocking an IP.

Most of our customers would be right to assume that other businesses that are bidding for the same keywords as them are in fact also clicking on their ads.

If your industry or keyword is competitive it would be wise to check out what level of unwanted clicks you are facing on your AdWords campaign. You can then decide if you want to block those IP addresses moving forward. It’s an excellent way to boost the performance of your ad campaigns as well as your business itself.

Find out who (or what) is really clicking on your ads.

Run a FREE 7 trial with ClickCease.

Ilan Missulawin

Ilan is a co-founder and the CMO of ClickCease since 2015.
When he isn't dreaming about click fraud you can find him writing about it.
Two of his favorite things in life are: Peppa Pig and writing about himself in third person.

2 comments

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Disclaimer: I am not a ClickCease affiliate etc. – I just like anything that stops people from wasting Google Ads budget …

    One of the key problems is ignorance of the problem (junk clicks). Services such as ClickCease would clearly pay for themselves if businesses actually dug into their data in more depth (to identify potentially fraudulent clicks).

    I hope that it’s acceptable to provide this link to an article we wrote about the paltry limit of IP exclusions that Google allow, and the reasons why they won’t do more (simply: they’d lose $billions) – https://www.a1webstats.com/what-it-does/marketing-roi/google-ads-ip-address-exclusions-limit/

    Although that article (and pages it links to) does focus on how people could exclude some IPs, it doesn’t focus on click farms etc. and so implicitly says that it’s worth trying out ClickCease/similar.

    • Hey Andy, yes indeed, I think many companies would be shocked if they looked closely at the info. Thanks for the link to your article, I will take a look… Cheers

Block click fraud from ruining your campaign!

Most discussed