Recover From “Two-Click” AdSense Penalty
Publishers leveraging Google AdSense ad units on their site have recently noticed a new Google penalty affecting their ad earnings. Both AdSense publishers and larger publishing groups that leverage Google AdX (and serving AdSense ad units) were caught off guard by this latest change. This penalty is often referred to as the “Two-Click” AdSense Penalty.
Below, I’ll show you exactly what the penalty is, how to check if you’re being affected by it, and what to do in case you want to remove the AdSense penalty.
What is the “Doubleclick” AdSense Penalty?
You’re probably not sure what the “Two-Click” – or double click AdSense penalty is, but are likely reading this because you’re concerned it could be affecting you (or will affect you in the future). There isn’t a cut and dry answer that I can give you. I can only give you a Google answer. Below is Google’s response to our inquiry about a publisher affected by the penalty.
FROM GOOGLE: “I took a look at the invalid activity deductions on your account and they are due to users on your site accidentally clicking on AdSense ad units.
You can reduce incidences of accidental clicking by making sure your ad implementation doesn’t encourage clicking on the ad units and can’t be mistaken as site content. Begin by reviewing your ad implementation to ensure;
- Ads are not placed too close to other clickable content. You can do this by increasing the distance between the ad unit and your site’s content.
- Any navigation buttons (e.g. next page icon) are positioned below above any ad units.
- All your ads are clearly labelled as ad units by using “Advertisements” or “Sponsored links” above the ad unit.
In an effort to protect our traffic systems we can only share certain details about the invalid activity on your account, but hopefully this will be enough for you to work with:
Your earnings were deducted due to the detection of invalid activity particularly on Mobile (but also on Desktop).”
There you have it. A very Google answer; yet it does provide us with enough insight to investigate and solve the problem.
Am I affected by this double click AdSense penalty
The number one warning sign of the penalty is decreased AdSense earnings from AdSense ad units. This is super easy to check in Ezoic. Check earnings/EPMV by a device for a sudden dip in mobile EPMV to see if you could be affected by this issue.
The next step in diagnosing the issue is to see if you are being affected by the penalty. This will require you to install the Google Publisher Toolbar. The toolbar will allow you to see if there is an added click necessary for users once they click on an ad unit (this means users would have to actually click an ad twice for it to take them to the advertiser’s website).
Sign-in to the toolbar and enable the overlay to begin viewing your pages with AdSense ad units. If you have an ad (or several) in locations where the CTR (click through rate) suddenly fell off a cliff (declined significantly) this is your smoking gun! The reason for this is that users now actually have to double-click AdSense ad units once the penalty is in affect. Keep in mind this only happens for Google ads. Other ad providers (e.g. Criteo) will not have the penalty present for their ads.
A decline in overall EPMV and CTR on your current AdSense ad units are indicative qualities of this penalty taking place.
Getting rid of the Two-Click AdSense Penalty
Now you probably want to know how to identify all ad units with invalid activity to fix it…
- Run a report in ADX to identify ad units with high CTR (if you’re an Ezoic customer, your account representative can help you with this if you’re not sure how to do it on your own). See all of the ones that have fallen off in the same manner recently (you can also just repeat the step from the last section and use the Google Publisher Toolbar to do this).
- After the ad unit is identified, either delete it or reduce sizes to smaller sizes on mobile only – e.g. 320×100 (no boxes) and add extra padding, 30px top and bottom.
This will likely fix the issue; although the results will not be instantaneous. This can be the frustrating part, but just remain diligent and ensure you’re monitoring the potential problem units and your EPMV.
What else we know recovering from the two-click penalty
A two-click AdSense penalty does not receive a violation notice from Google; nor are there any notifications in the publisher’s account if they are being affected by this (from Ezoic or Google).
The penalty is an automated change by Google based on sites getting a high percentage of accidental clicks. Penalties are temporary. Typically, they are lifted within 2-4 weeks (sometimes sooner) after Google does another round of automated site reviews.
Be patient and your missing revenue will return to normal levels after the penalty is removed.
Share your experiences with this penalty below. I’ll monitor the threads and contribute however I can to help. If you’re using the Ezoic platform, you can reach out to your account rep for assistance.
Tyler is an award-winning digital marketer, SEO veteran, successful start-up founder, and well-known publishing industry speaker. Tyler also serves as the host of Pubtelligence, a publishers-only event hosted at Google offices around the globe. Tyler describes his core competency as learning. He has composed content for some of the world’s top publications and has over a decade of experience building businesses in the digital space. Tyler is currently the Head of Marketing at Ezoic and serves as an SEO and marketing expert for start-up competitions across the U.S.