If you found this article through Google Search, you may have already clicked on several other links making false promises to teach you how to block an IP address in Google Adwords. I did too; that’s why I wrote this.
Those other articles are red herrings — part of an elaborate government ploy to distract you from the correct process for IP exclusion in Adwords — a process I’ll explain in detail below.
I’ll cut to the chase and show you the process for IP exclusion first, followed by some reasoning behind why you would want to block an IP address at all.
How to block an IP address in Google AdWords
1. Open your AdWords account and navigate to the Campaigns tab at the top of the page.
2. Click on the Display Network tab in Campaigns.
3. Open up the Exclusions option in Display Network.
4. At the bottom right of the page, click on “Manage IP address exclusions (advanced).”
5. A simple form will pop up. Select a campaign and add the IP address(es) you would like to exclude and select Save. You’ll have to do this separately for each campaign, saving after each.
6. There is no step 6. You did it!
So that really wasn’t too difficult. It’s just hidden down at the bottom of the Display Network tab, where most of us rarely look.
How about some more information?
What exactly is an IP address?
An IP address, or Internet Protocol address, is a numerical label given to any computer using the Internet. Your home computer probably has its own IP address, but a network of computers at a business most likely shares an IP address for administrative ease.
How do I find an IP address?
You can determine your own IP address at WhatIsMyIPAddress. To determine a competitor’s IP address, trace their email header, or search for their IP on Domain Tools.
Why would I want to block an IP address?
Good question, Jack. Blocking an IP address in AdWords means that anyone using the Internet from that computer or network of computers won’t be able to see your PPC ads. This is useful for several reasons:
- Blocking your ads from competitors gives you an advantage.
If your competitors can’t see your ads, they might not even know that you’re competing with them on a keyword. Even if they do, hiding your ads from competitors keeps them in the dark about your ad copy.
- Blocking your ads from competitors prevents click fraud.
Google is pretty good at detecting click fraud (also known as invalid clicks). AdWords won’t charge you for someone (perhaps a competitor) clicking on your ads many times in a day. Even so, in competitive PPC venues where a click costs upwards of $10, even a few bad clicks can cost you.
- Blocking your ads from your own business can prevent accidental clicks.
You don’t want to click on your own PPC ads; it still costs you money — money that should be saved for users looking for your site. Blocking your own IP address will hide your PPC ads from someone at your business lazily searching for your site and clicking the PPC ad instead of using a direct link. Decide if this is a valid concern for your PPC.
How can I tell if my competitors are blocking my IP address?
It’s not always obvious that a competitor is hiding their ads from you. Here are two warning signs:
A long-time competitor’s ads have stopped showing up, even for their own brand name.
Your ad always appears at the #1 position in Google Search, even though AdWords indicates that your Average Position is #2.
How can I see my competitors’ ads if they block my IP address?
There are a few different ways to hide or change your IP address. With a different or hidden IP address, you should be able to see your competitors’ ads again.
Here at Portent, we use competitive research tools like SEMrush and SpyFu for data sets of competitor keywords and ads. Getting this type of data in spreadsheets helps to look at a company’s total PPC strategy, rather than manually searching Google for each keyword to see when a competitor’s ad is up.
I hope this post helped you out. Leave your questions in the comments and I’ll hit you back.
Hey Jack. How do you know your competitor’s IP address? This wouldn’t be the same IP as their website, so how do you know the IP of the actual office building/router where they are using their computer?
Thanks for the question. It’s a pretty important one. I added a section into the post explaining how to determine your competitor’s IP.
You can do a domain IP lookup at Domain Tools: http://www.domaintools.com/research/reverse-ip/
Another effective method is signing up for a competitor’s email series and tracing their email header: http://whatismyipaddress.com/trace-email
Hey Jack, thats a very interesting article. I know a mate who had to close Adwords. Every month his competitors took the time to click on his ads and so lose a lot of money.
The first tool I knew, the second one for trace email I didn’t knew so thats a bookmark. Thx
Yeah, in high CPC areas like legal services and car insurance, those clicks are so expensive that even a few fraudulent clicks and be devastating to ROI.
Just wanted to thankyou for a great post. Hiding activity from a competitor is a great strategy, both from a cost saving PPC perspective and also a ‘guerilla’ perspective. Nice and valuable.
Very helpful technique. This will help with particular clients that are most sensitive to competitors seeing their PPC ads.
Good write-up. I recently used this in a specific location where a competitor was burning through my budget with fraud clicks. While it’s great that Google reimburses you for bad clicks; it’s not until a few days later…and Long after your daily budget is already capped. I’m in the edu space, so CPCs are ridiculous.
Do you think that blocking IPs can be dangerous as well? Can’t IPs be shared by multiple businesses and individuals? I am somewhat concerned about “collateral damage” to others in the same IP.
Thanks for the comment, Jordon.
Yes it is common for multiple computers on the same network to share an IP address. There is no limit to the number of computers that share an IP, but there is a limit to the number of simultaneous connections using on IP, so these networks are never too large.
Thought it may be possible to block a handful of potential customers in this way, I don’t think it’s a significant amount when you consider the potential impression volume AdWords can provide across the web.