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

google two click penalty

[Updated 28.10.2021]

Have you 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 accidental 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.

Table of Contents:

What Is Google Two-Click Penalty?

A two-click penalty, also known as Google double click penalty, is a mechanism that helps to keep invalid and unintentional ad clicks in check. It does so by prompting the user to click again to confirm their intent. 

While it’s 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 perform accidental clicks on the ads or, even worse, it suspects ad fraud

In essence, it isn’t a penalty. However, it’s a measure to:

  • protect advertisers’ money from clicks that weren’t meant to be; 
  • avoid the bad user experience when visitors accidentally end up on the advertiser’s landing page instead of staying on the publisher’s site.

Unfortunately, these unwanted clicks result in a loss of revenue for publishers. 

Even as the revenue from accidental clicks contracts, publishers lose more, as genuine clicks require confirmation.

Related Article: How to Increase Ad Revenue | Success Formula and Proven Solutions 

How Does Double Click Penalty Work?

If Google detects an unusually high number of invalid clicks, it places a “Visit Site” button on top of the ad after the visitor first clicks on it. The users need to confirm the click 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.

Példa

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 behavior.

What causes invalid clicks? 

Users, especially on mobile devices, sometimes click 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 do I stop invalid clicks? 

The best thing to do is to avoid them. 

Ensure that your site maintains a good user experience and that the website design does not lead to unintentional clicks. 

The image below shows a good example of a website design that separates the ads from the content while maintaining a good user experience.

good ad placement example

In most cases, increasing the padding (the space between the element’s content and its border) fixes the issue.

How Can Google Double Click Penalty Affect 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 ad revenue loss.

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

How Can I Fix Two-Click Penalty?

Google takes its own time to switch off double click. However, making these changes to the page works in most cases. 

  • Do not place ads too close to navigation buttons/links.
  • Make sure you test it on as many devices as possible–mobile, tablet, and desktop. 
  • Maintain a safe margin between content and ads–your banners should have a padding of 10px as a minimum. 
  • If it’s a 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.
fixed ad unit height example

All you have to do is make changes and wait. 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. 

6 Tips 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. 

allowed distance between the ad and the content

2. Avoid unnatural attention to ads–flashy animation or arrow pointing to an ad go against Google’s ad policies. 

ad placement policy google

Source: Google

3. Avoid using misleading headings. Don’t name the ads section on your website as “helpful links” or “more resources” and prompt users to click on the ad.

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

double click penalty

Source: Google

5. Maintain a clear distinction between ads and content. It serves little purpose other than increasing invalid clicks while violating Google policies

6. Do not incentivize clicks, for example, click on your own ads or ask your site visitors to click on them. 

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.

Conclusion

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 Google’s 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 hasn’t 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] or leave a comment below. 

Join the conversation