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Banned from Google for Click Fraud

You may have noticed there are no more ads on this blog. That’s because my Google AdSense account was disabled yesterday for violating the terms of service:

Hello Casey Serin,

It has come to our attention that invalid clicks and/or impressions have been generated on the Google ads on your site(s). We have therefore disabled your Google AdSense account. Please understand that this was a necessary step to protect the interest of the AdWords advertisers.

A publisher’s site may not have invalid clicks or impressions on any ad(s), including but not limited to clicks and/or impressions generated by:

– a publisher on his own web pages
– a publisher encouraging others to click on his ads
– automated clicking programs or any other deceptive software
– a publisher altering any portion of the ad code or changing the layout, behavior, targeting, or delivery of ads for any reason

These or any other such activities that violate Google AdSense Terms and Conditions and program polices may have led us to disable your account. The Terms and Conditions and program polices can be viewed at:

https://www.google.com/….terms?hl=en_US
https://www.google.com/ads….icies?hl=en_US

Publishers disabled for invalid click activity are not allowed further participation in AdSense and do not receive any further payment. The earnings on your account will be properly returned to the affected advertisers.

If you feel that this decision was made in error, and can maintain in good faith that the invalid activity was not due to the actions or negligence of you or those you are responsible for, such as employees and family members, you may appeal the closing of your account. To do so, please contact us only through this form:

http://www.google.com/suppor….

If Google decides to evaluate your appeal, we will do our best to inform you quickly and will proceed with appropriate action as necessary. If we have reached a decision on your appeal, subsequent or duplicate appeals may not be considered.

Sincerely,

The Google AdSense Team

Always Hesitant to “Monetize”

From the beginning I was hesitant to put ads on my site because I didn’t want people to think I’m just trying to “cash-in” on my experience (not that there is anything wrong with that).

This blog was started to tell an honest story for educational value. I am never against making profit, but it wasn’t the primary goal. I just wanted to share my story of what NOT to do in real estate.

Because I was so upfront about my experience, especially mortgage fraud, the blog has been very controversial from the start. I didn’t realize just how controversial until some exposure from housing bubble blogs and the flood of negative comments that followed.

A couple of my business associates also had a problem with me talking online and I even took it down for a few days to think this thing over.

Then in October the mainstream media hit. I started getting some major traffic. So I thought I will put up a little bit of advertising just to cover my hosting bill and other related expenses. As long as I didn’t over-do it I though there is nothing wrong with it.

So I started making some advertising money. This is the first time in my life that I have an audience and I’m “getting paid” to write. Pretty exciting. And I don’t even have to make anything up – simply write about my crazy life exactly as it happens.

However, there were a couple of times in the last 4 months that I was ready to pull the ads down because people started to accuse me of running a scam blog for money. But as soon as I decide to do that people would talk me out of it.

My Revenue

The figures are approximate numbers because my AdSense account login has been disabled and I can’t login to get the exact figures. Roughly I made the following:

September: $60 (received)

October: $850 (received)

November: $750 (lost)

December: $1,250 (partial month, lost)

Because of the delay in payments, I only got paid for September and October. I had at least $2,000 coming my way, plus whatever else I would earn during the rest of December.

It’s not that much money but it was definitely something to help me get through my tough financial crisis. I was counting on that money!

Also, as others have pointed out, I was greatly under-utilizing the traffic and the earning potential of the blog. I’m new to this so I was still learning. For example, when I made a simple change in ad placement, my CTR (Click Through Rate) went from around 0.4% to almost 0.8% in December. My traffic didn’t increase that much but my revenue doubled.

So because of the roughly 5,000 daily visitors I’ve been averaging, my blog could have been a real money maker if I sat down and monetized it correctly with Google AdSense, affiliate programs and other stuff.

Why I was banned…

1) Fraud clicks from my supporters…

I know that there are people here that were clicking my ads to help me out. That’s nice, but I never asked for it. When I found this out I told people to stop because I didn’t want to get banned. Besides, it’s not right. Most people don’t think it’s a big deal to defraud the advertisers by clicking the ads a few extra times.

But if you are the advertiser, how would you feel if somebody is gaming the system at your expense?

To my (few) supporters:

I know you had good intentions and thank you for trying to support me but you were going about it in a fraudulent way whether you knew it or not. (Just like me and liar loans.)

2) Fraud clicks from my “haters”…

Not all haters…err..critics on this blog want to harm me but some do. It’s apparent from the comments I receive (and screen out). So when they caught on to the fact that they can get me banned from Google AdSense with fraud clicks they went at it.

I can’t prove any of this… only from what I see in the comments and on other websites talking about me.

I guess, the “haters” had a problem with me making a little money from my popularity and my desire to tell an honest story. Is it jealousy? Anger? Vengeance? I don’t know. This blog attracts such a negative audience that I’m not surprised.

3) My Fault

Since I moderate every comment I had some control over the situation. I should not have been talking about advertising or Google AdSense at all on this blog. This way I would not have been giving the “enemies” ammunition to use against me.

Live and learn.

Now What?

I know I can appeal about this to Google but I’m not going to. Even if my appeal is successful and I get my account back what is going to stop the “haters” from doing this again?

Plus if I keep this blog commercial-free maybe people will stop occusing me of trolling.

I’m also tired of being compared to lonelygirl15. There are no movie producers or professional photographers here. Just me. I am not exaggerating anything. Everything I have said here is true!

I’m not sure about the future of this blog at this point. Blogging my story in detail takes a lot of time, especially with the huge number of comments that I have to moderate. And writing about fighting the fire takes time away from fighting the fire.

I’ve been justifying spending 2-3 hrs per day on this blog because at least it was producing a little bit of income. Now that I’ve been banned from Google for click fraud I can’t use that excuse anymore.

I want to continue telling me story but I don’t know how much time I can devote to it and still be taking care of my responsibilities. I kind of wish I had a capable writer/journalist/blogger to follow me around every day and cover my story in detail. Otherwise I may be so distracted with the blog that I will sabotage any chance of a come-back. Or maybe I need to just learn to be more efficient… I dunno.

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