For those who don’t know, I run a few blogs that rely on Google’s Adsense program (not solely but a considerable amount) to generate some side income. One of the major challenges of Adsense (the publisher side, eg. me) and Adwords (the advertiser side, eg. the company) is click-fraud because it’s very easy to click on your own ads in the search for a few extra pennies. This is especially tempting when you’re starting out and getting very few pageviews and frequently see $0.00 days. It’s almost understandable, you want to see $0.14 instead of $0.00, and it is a psychological thing that makes you feel as if progress is being made.

Don’t do it. There are many reasons you shouldn’t click on your ads (outside of being kicked out of the program and seeing $0.00 per day forever):

1. If you’re in it for the long haul, your conversion rate will be awful and you’ll be smart priced. If you’re in it for a few quick bucks, I’m sorry to tell you but you’ll likely never see a check. If you’re in it for the long haul, your constant clicking (even if you mask it, hide it, click from random computers, blah blah) will be counter productive for you personally. It’s been discussed that publishers with low conversion rates might be smart priced which means you will be paid less per click because clicks from your site are less valuable.

Let me illustrate. A mortgage company buys up keywords that appear on your sites, they’re expecting maybe 5% of clicks will convert into a lead of some kind (visitor fills out a form). If your site instead gives them a conversion rate of 0.005% because you’re the one clicking (and not converting), Google might smart price you. This is especially painful when your site starts growing and the real money starts coming it. That’s when the chasing of pennies will cause you to miss out on dollars.

2. Click fraud lowers credibility of the system. Say that you’re a mortgage advertiser that starts using the Adsense advertising network expecting 5% and instead sees a lot of 0.005%, you’re paying for 100% of the clicks but only 0.005% are turning into leads (of which a smaller percentage will result in sales). How long do you think you’ll stay in a program where the returns are so low? Not long. Once that advertiser pulls out, there’s less competition for the keyword and if a lot of advertisers pull out… the keyword loses value and in turn, you make less money. You get the idea.

3. Ultimately, you’re stealing. Good people are paying good money into a good system that is in turn paying other good people for their hard work. Where else can a kid in a developing nation in an internet cafe turn a journal into something that can generate big bucks? $5/day to someone in the United States is an overpriced cup of coffee… compare that to how much that money is worth to someone in Zimbabwe? You’re stealing from the advertisers, you’re stealing from hardworking people using Adsense, and you’re helping bring down a system that’s helped a lot of people who are willing to work hard.