Valid Reasons for Increases in Traffic

Sometimes you may notice an increase in the number of clicks that your ads receive. This might raise concerns about potentially invalid clicks. In most cases though, these fluctuations in traffic are caused by other factors that are not related to invalid clicks.

While reviewing your traffic, keep in mind that there may be a benign reason for the increase in clicks. By performing simple checks in your account, you can often identify the reason for the increased number of clicks. In many cases, determining the reason for the increase in traffic can help you to identify opportunities for campaign optimization.

Valid Reasons for an Increase in Clicks

Changes in the Account

Campaign changes can have a significant impact on the performance of a campaign. The most common ones to keep in mind are:

  • Changes in daily budget
    If you raise the daily budget for your campaigns, it will allow the ads to receive more impressions and - naturally - more clicks.

  • Changes in maximum CPC for keywords
    Raising the maximum CPC for one or more of your keywords might allow your ads to show more often. It might also allow the ads to show in a higher position than before. Ads with a higher position typically receive more clicks than those in a lower position. That is also true for ads that show on the Display Network - a higher CPC can result in a higher position and therefore more impressions and clicks.

  • Adding new keywords
    Adding new keywords to your campaign, especially if the keywords are quite general or correspond to popular search queries, can increase the number of impressions and clicks as well.

  • Changes to country or language targeting
    Adding new countries or languages to a campaign’s targets can significantly increase the number of impressions and clicks.

  • Changes to the network settings
    If you target new placements or switch from automatic placements to managed placements or the other way round, it can also influence your campaign’s traffic.

In general, if you optimize a campaign to improve its performance, this might also result in a higher quality score for your keywords, allowing them to serve in a higher ad position for a lower actual CPC. As a result, you may get more impressions and clicks at the same daily budget.

External Factors

Sometimes you’ll notice fluctuations in traffic, even though you haven’t made any changes to a campaign. However, these might be caused by external factors. The most common ones are:

  • Ads are showing on new Display Network sites
    If your ad campaign uses automatic placements and has enough daily budget, the ads’ traffic can significantly increase if it starts showing on a new publisher site or if the sites the ads are serving on receive more traffic due to the next reason:

  • Seasonal trends or news events
    Sometimes it’s a sudden increase in interest in a specific topic that causes increased traffic, for example, celebrity endorsements of specific products, news events, Valentine’s Day.

  • Changes in the competitive landscape
    If a competitor stops advertising or makes changes to their campaigns, this could affect your campaigns as well and your ads might see an increase in impressions and clicks due to reduced competition.

Identifying Causes for Increased Traffic

Review your account for campaign changes that might explain the increase

  • Compare the campaign graphs for clicks and impressions for a longer period of time to pinpoint the time of the traffic change. Comparing the impression graph to the average position graph can show you whether the traffic increase was the result of a change in the ads’ average position.
  • Check the change history for budget, CPC or other changes that could have caused the increase.
  • Check the search terms that triggered the ads for any top search terms that caused more traffic.
  • Check the invalid clicks report to see if there was any increase in invalid click activity that was already filtered from your reports automatically.

Check for external factors that might have influenced the campaign’s performance

  • You can use Google Trends to look at the search trends for the top search terms which triggered your ads. Google Trends also sometimes shows related news stories, which might explain the increase in interest.
  • Think of any news events, holidays or seasonal trends that might have caused changes in the amount of traffic received by a campaign.

During the review of your account you might notice some things that require further campaign changes. For example, if you see that your ads received more clicks because of an increased number of searches for a particular seasonal search term like "ceiling fans" during a hot summer, you might want to change CPCs and budget to take advantage of the increased interest. However, if you are selling ceiling fans, but notice that your ads are showing for search terms like "excited fans storm concert hall", your campaign might benefit from an optimization of the keyword list (for example, by adding negative keywords or choosing more restrictive keyword matching options). You can find a more detailed list of optimization tips in our help center.

In general, you should focus on your ads’ return-on-investment (ROI), instead of only the number of clicks. An increase in impressions and clicks, if combined with an increased number of conversions (for example, sales or leads), is actually a good thing. We recommend the use of conversion tracking and Analytics to get a better understanding of what you gain from the money you spend on AdWords advertising. Our help center has detailed information about how to improve the ROI of AdWords campaigns.