8 ways to address Google’s Two-Click Penalty

Reading time: 5 minutes

We know that seasonality can impact your site traffic but a significant decrease is a cause for concern. More notably, when your ad click-through rate simultaneously goes down. When this happens, most publishers start talking about Google’s “Double-Click” or “Two-Click” penalty. If your site’s ads are affected by this, keep reading to learn eight ways to address the “Two-Click” penalty.

What’s the Google Two-Click penalty?

After reviewing your site, Google may determine that some aspect of your ad strategy is causing accidental clicks on ads. To prevent this and to protect advertisers, Google implements something called Confirmed Clicks. In order[7] to validate that user’s intention, Google adds a second step in the form of a Visit Site button that appears after the user’s first click. Site visitors are redirected to your advertiser[3]’s final URL after clicking the Visit Site button.

Sounds reasonable. Unless your user intentionally clicked the ad, encounters this additional obstacle, and decides to leave. In this case, the click is not registered because they never actually made it to the advertiser’s site.

One thing to note is that Google does not consider the additional Visit Site layer—which we will now refer to as Confirmed Clicks—a penalty. You won’t receive any official warning from Google. This is simply a measure to help improve the site’s user experience (UX).

How does the Two-Click, or Confirmed Clicks, affect me?

Visitors having to click twice to access an ad’s final destination has an indirect effect on publishers like you. This extra step can cause a drop in an ad’s click-through rate (CTR[1]).

Publishers have experienced a noticeable cost per mille (CPM[2]) drop when their site is affected by Confirmed Clicks. In turn, they’ve seen a negative effect on their ad revenue.

How do I address this?

Google has set out its own policy suggestions on how to address Confirmed Clicks. Please note, these are just suggestions. Neither Freestar nor Google make any guarantees that these actions will completely address the issue.

1. Avoid accidental clicks

Google thinks people are accidentally clicking your ads due to your ad layout. So let’s start there. Adjust your layout so your ads aren’t mistaken for other site content such as menu, navigation, or downloadable links.

Need help with ad layout optimization and addressing Confirmed Clicks? Reach out to our support team today for tips on improving your layout.

2. Unnatural attention to ads

Remove directional arrows or animations that force site visitors to look at your ads.

Focus on providing valuable content and excellent UX for visitors who land on your page.

3. Placing ads under a misleading header

Your site visitors should know how to differentiate your content from the display ads[4] on your page. Avoid adding headlines that would make the ads appear as if they are a part of your content.

Label your ads as “Sponsored Content” or “Advertisement,” not things like “Recommended Resource.”

4. Site layout that pushes content below the fold

When a site visitor[8] lands on your page, ensure that your content (rather than several ads) is still visible above the fold[5] (ATF) rather than below the fold (BTF). ATF is the upper half of a website that a user sees before scrolling. Google values sites that offer a strong UX.

5. Aligning images with ads

Do not alter your site layout in a way that images associated with your content are mistaken for your ads. Your ads must be clearly distinguished from your content in order to avoid double click.

6. Formatting content to mimic ads

Avoid designing your ad layout in a way that hides or disguises your ads within your existing content. Site visitors need to be able to distinguish the ads from your content easily.

7. Offering compensation

The display ad on your site is the offer. Do not add incentives or monetary compensation to convince site visitors to click the ad.

If your ad’s offer isn’t enticing enough, split test with different ad copy until you find one that resonates with the intended audience. The winning ad copy would show an increase in CTR.

8. Distance between ads and flash games

Google recommends a distance of “at least 150 pixels between” an ad and the edge of a game. If you’ve ever played Tetris on your phone, or any mobile gaming app, rapidly clicking the screen is common. Placing your ads too close to the game itself can cause accidental clicks.

Next steps?

Ensure that your ad layout follows Google’s suggestions first. Once you’ve made these changes, it’s time to play the waiting game for Google to crawl your site again. If your CTR and revenue go back to normal, great!

Important Note: Non-Google demand sources are not affected by this issue.

In the event that you are already working with more than just AdSense and AdX, and have adhered to their official suggestions, then it’s time to look at the quality of your clicks and traffic. Stayed tuned as we dive more into Invalid Clicks and Invalid Traffic (IVT) in future updates from Freestar.

How do I ensure the issue is fixed?

Monitor your CTR, site traffic, and ad revenue after applying the above changes. If they’re back to normal, then you should be good to go.

Important Note: For your testing, do not click the ads on your site to see whether you have the Visit Site overlay. Clicking on your own ads is against Google’s policies and is considered an Invalid Click.

So, what did we learn?

When Google thinks people are accidentally clicking on your ad, they add an additional validation layer to the process to confirm that a real person meant to click the ad.

This can be problematic for publishers as it provides another obstacle for site visitors when they intend to reach your advertiser’s final destination. When Google initiates Confirmed Clicks on any given site, publishers have noted a decrease in their impression[6] rate which negatively affects their CPM and ad revenue.

In order to mitigate Confirmed Clicks, follow Google’s official suggestions to improve UX and decrease the chances of accidental clicks on your site.

Watch your site traffic and CTR while Google crawls your website. If you see your CTR and site revenue climb back, there’s a good chance your ads no longer have the extra validation layer.

In the event that following the official suggestions and diversifying your demand partners does not help your CTR, it’s time to take a look at your site traffic and click quality.

Mitigate Confirmed Clicks by partnering with Freestar. Gain access to 30+ premium partners to increase your pool of demand partners. Learn more by reaching out to our team today.

1. Click-Through-Rate [CTR] ( CTR ) CTR relates to how many times users clicked on an ad divided by the number of times that ad was displayed to users.
2. Cost Per Mille/Thousand [CPM] ( CPM ) Cost per mille, or thousand (mille = thousand in Latin). A pricing model in which advertisers pay for every 1000 impressions of their advertisement served. This is the standard basic pricing model for online advertising. See also CPC and CPA.
3. advertiser. The company paying for the advertisement.
4. display ads. Display ads are a term used for traditional banner advertisements that serve on mobile or desktop web pages. Like video ads, many variations, types, and sizes exist.
5. above the fold. Typically the upper half of a website or any part a user can view without having to scroll down. Automatically viewable.

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