Google Two-Click Penalty | What is It and How to Fix

google two click penalty explained

As a publisher, if you have noticed a drop in CTR and ad impressions, here’s something you should look into immediately.

Are your visitors required to click on ads twice to reach the ad’s landing page? Are any of your ad placements leading to accidentals clicks? If yes, you may be facing the problem of a two-click or double click penalty. 

Not acting in time can lead to a reduced ad impression rate, followed by a drop in CPM

We will help you avert the problem.

What is a two-click or double click penalty?

A two-click penalty is a mechanism that helps to keep invalid and unintentional ad clicks in check by prompting the user to click again to confirm their intent. While it’s popularly referred to as a penalty, Google calls it Confirmed Clicks.

If an ad unit is registering above-average invalid clicks, Google asks visitors to reconfirm their intent with a second click. Why? Because it thinks that most users may be accidentally clicking on the ads or, even worse, it suspects ad fraud

In essence, it isn’t a penalty; however, it is a measure to protect advertiser money from getting wasted on clicks that weren’t meant to be. 

With accidental clicks, users end up on the advertiser’s landing page when they want to stay on the publisher’s site. It leads to a poor user experience. Double click prevents it.

However, it results in a loss of revenue for publishers. 

Even as the revenue from accidental clicks contracts, publishers lose more, as genuine clicks also require confirmation. Hence, it’s sometimes called a double click penalty.

How does it work, and what causes it?

Advertisers pay per click for Google AdSense users and per 1000 impressions for Ad Exchange. With invalid clicks due to ad fraud or accidental clicks, advertisers lose money on both. To avoid it, Google validates the user’s intention with Confirmed Clicks

It places a “Visit Site” button on top of the ad after the first click on detecting unusually high invalid clicks.  The users need to confirm by clicking on the button. 

example of two click penalty

Source: Google

❗Recently, Google confirmed that at the beginning of Q4 2021, to improve the UX of ads confirmed click will start to be eligible also on desktop inventory. Previously this was only applicable to mobile inventory.


If a user clicks on an image ad, it will show the text “Visit Site” or a localized equivalent. The user can then click again to confirm their intent to visit the advertiser page.

It has been identified that low click quality on the below desktop inventory may trigger confirmed click behaviour.

What causes invalid clicks?

Users, especially on mobile devices, end up clicking on image ads unintentionally. It happens if the ads are placed too close to navigational elements or due to reflows/content jumping.

Both problems could also occur because of the website design or the user’s device interface. 

How can it affect publishers’ ad revenue?

Before the second click, most users leave. As the first click alone doesn’t count, publishers don’t get paid. 

With Google AdSense being a primary source of ad revenue for most publishers, the CTR drop leads to a significant loss.

The second-click requirement impacts publishers who have Google AdSense, Ad ExChange, or Ad Manager. It is because after CTR drops, the ad impressions also drop. Consequently, the ad revenue earned through impressions shrinks.

How can publishers fix it?

Most of the time, making slight changes to the page works. But Google takes its own time to switch off double click. 

  • Do not place ads too close to navigation buttons/links; increasing padding fixes the issue.
  • Make sure you test it on as many devices as possible–mobile, tablet, and desktop. 
  • Check for navigation links/items close or appearing over the top of the ad.
  • If it is reflow causing the problem, set a fixed height for ad units. It will prevent layout shifting, particularly on long article pages or single-page applications.

All you have to do is make changes and wait. This means you can’t request a review or submit a report to Google regarding modifications made. According to Google, confirmed click functionality is switched on or off depending on the aggregated behavior over time. 

The best thing to do is to avoid it.

6 Tips on How to Avoid Google Two-Click Penalty

1. Place the ads a little farther from content/navigation items to avoid accidental clicks. 

If it’s a game, Google recommends a minimum distance of 150 pixels between the edge of the game and the ad. 

2. Avoid unnatural attention to ads–flashy animation or arrow pointing to an ad go against Google’s ad policies. Do not use them.

3. Avoid using misleading headings–if you name the ads section on your website as “helpful links” or “more resources” and prompt users to click on the ad, you need to stop it immediately.

4. Never push content below the fold–if ads push the main content below the fold, users click on them. Choose for a layout, putting content first.

double click penalty

Source: Google

5. Maintain a clear distinction between ad content. Do not disguise ads as content. It serves little purpose other than increasing invalid clicks while violating Google policies. So, ensure there’s a clear distinction between ads and content.

6. Do not incentivize clicks. Such clicks are invalid because there is no inclination to purchase. By offering compensation, you drive a high number of invalid clicks that can cause a double click penalty.

Next Steps

The extra validation layer of confirmed clicks results in losses, and recovery takes time. It’s earned the moniker of “two-click penalty” for a good reason. 

If you are affected by the two-click penalty, make the necessary changes to reduce invalid clicks and wait. Your ad revenue should return to normal as CTR and site traffic increase.

If Google has not yet imposed Confirmed Clicks on your ad units, make sure you do not get there. Follow Google’s UX guidelines and, more importantly, steer clear of any deceptive practices to increase clicks.   

Setupad can help you adopt best practices to avoid the two-click penalty. To know how to safeguard your ad revenues better, email us at [email protected].

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