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Why You Can’t Game Google and Bing with +1s and Likes

Identity and the obviousness of Like Farms

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Social is more important to search rankings than ever. There’s no doubt about that.

Should +1s and Facebook “likes” be used as significant ranking signals by search engines? Share your thoughts here.

In a recent article, we asked if Google’s +1 button is the new PageRank. As Google uses the data from the button as a ranking signal, +1′s will no doubt be coveted more and more by any site owner looking for increased search visibility and traffic.

As discussed in that article, just as you’ve seen plenty trying to boost their PageRank through black hat tactics, it seems highly likely that these same people will try to exploit the +1 button. Google’s main weapon agains this appears to be tying the +1s to your actual identity, by using a strict profile naming policy.

Google wants to know who is doing this +1ing, which should help cut down on abuse.

Bing’s Duane Forrester wrote a blog post this week talking about a similar topic in the realm of abusing the social signals that search engines use to try and determine what results to show users. Forrester’s focus was on the concept of the “like” farm – basically the social equivalent of the link farm.

Amazingly, though, people think this approach works,” says Forrester. ”The rationale being that social signals matter to search, they can ramp up the volume of the ‘like’ signal in Facebook, causing a related boost in rankings.  The logic may seem fine, but when you recall that we can see sudden explosions of links as spammy, it’s easy to understand how we can see sudden explosions of likes as spammy as well.  To be fair, there’s more to it than that.”

“Anyone could suddenly ‘go viral’ and accumulate a lot of likes very quickly, so we look beyond just like/time to find patterns,” he explains. “And if there is one thing a search engine is good at, it’s seeing patterns online.  Like farms tend to be built around a core network of accounts.  You pay someone to like your site, content or whatever, and they go out across their network and like you.  It’s artificial and we know it.  Organic likes rarely follow obvious patterns.  In fact, if there’s a pattern to organic liking, it’s one built around chaos.  Like farms, however, no matter their size, end up looking obvious by comparison.  In the image below, you can see what an accumulation of likes look like to us when graphed.”

He shares the following graph depicting like activity with the red dots representing a like’s origin and the blue dots representing friends liking the same item. He says the differences between like farm activity and organic activity are “very obvious”.

Like Farm Activity

“In most cases, if we spot like farm activity, we simply ignore the signal,” says Forrester.  “Again, you may have paid for a service which is bringing you no value in boosting your search results. This also points out why it is so important that you manage your social media program.  At the very least, if you are outsourcing the management of your social program, you need to keep an eye on things.  Short cuts can add up eroding any value you were trying to achieve.”

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it is impossible to game the search engines using social media. Black hatters will always look for (and probably find) new ways to exploit the system for their gain, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

Interestingly, a report out from BrightEdge finds that about half of the largest 10,000 sites on the web don’t even display any kind of social sharing link or buttons at all. This is very surprising. As one WebProNews reader commented, “I find that unbelievable! The search engines have flat out admitted that social signals are a ranking factors. Why would a site owner not want to include social share buttons? Let your readers do some of the heavy lifting and get your content promoted in their social networks!”

I would strongly advise making the buttons accessible. Just have the content to give users a reason to click them. Then maybe you won’t have to worry about trying to game the system.

Do you think Google and Bing can keep social button abuse at bay? Tell us what you think.

Why You Can’t Game Google and Bing with +1s and Likes
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  • http://www.zagoumenov.com/blog/ Alex Zagoumenov

    Chris, you’re talking about likes and +1s, but what about RTs. If I can recall they act as a social signal. And as I’ve read, there are “twitter farms” that work to generate RTs. Do RTs still act as a social signal? Thank you!

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Crum

      I would say that retweets are social signals.

      • http://www.theokaynetwork.comappsplusonespy Adsense Publisher

        The like button is flawed as many companies are giving away free things for liking them. Del taco gives away free coupons if you like them and Facebook games give away free things in the games for liking the game.

        I just hope that Google doesn’t go the Facebook route or the system will be gamed by the public.

        Imagine me being able to tell my visitors if they +1 my site I’ll give them something for free, or a discount on something if they do.

        • http://casa-colonial-cozumel.com Bob Rodriguez

          I not only agree and understand your point but it is only ONE way that you know of. There will be people coming up with countless ways to game it. Like I said; to some people it is just that; a game.

          The only thing that can’t be gamed is the time tested relevency. Sure it takes more time and it is a lot of work; but I don’t think that webpro news has gotten this far without working hard. I get plenty of e-mails from webpronews “wanabees”. But they just don’t do it as well so I don’t “like” them.

          Now I’ve got to go. I’ve been working 26 hours out of the last 2 days working a completely new look for one of our most popular brands. It is going to kick some serious butt!!!!

          • http://www.amcoms.co.uk Andy Web

            Googles +1 policy clearly stipulates that you cannot incentise people to +1 in the same way that facebook does.

            It really baffles me wht google would take into consideration so much of facebooks likes when there is such a massive percentage of ‘profiles’ that are clearly not real people. over 500 friends and there is a bell ringing, this said the same profiles generally have pages and groups so how is this a) allowed by facebook and b) filtered from googles PR

            All very concerning for the future.

        • http://www.ewindowwashing.com Tory

          Now hold on a minute. Isn’t this what the plus one or like button is all about? What people like? Whats wrong with giving free stuff in order to hit the button?

          Its as social as you can get if you ask me. In fact, its what I was going to do for mine. Whats wrong with it?

      • Beamer

        Andy, Google also has guidelines for local business listings (Google maps) and people continually get away with blatant black hat, breaking those guidelines anyway. I see it every day.

  • http://www.votre-site-internet.com creation sites web 74

    Concerning Google +1′s, I even think they analyze account activity to determine if it’s a real account with search history and emails sent / received beside Google+1′s. Do you think they do ?

    • http://www.theokaynetwork.com/appsplusonespy Adsense Publisher

      That metric would be flawed as there still are people who don’t use Gmail.

      • http://www.ewindowwashing.com Tory

        But you still have to have a Google account to hit the Plus one button. Who has a google account and don’t have a Gmail account?

  • http://casa-colonial-cozumel.com Bob Rodriguez

    For the most part I do believe that obvious patterns can be detected and they may even penalize people who use like farms and similar black hat tactics. However, as anyone who has been around for a long time knows; there are ALWAYS ways to game the system. I’ve always been amazed when reading stories of teens who crack codes and break through firewalls of the Pentegon and things of that nature. Whenever I read these stories I think “why would someone with such talent waste their time doing something so illegal?” Why don’t don’t they use these god given skills to do something constructive? The only answer seems to be that “gaming the system” is like playing a video game to them. They simply get a thrill out of it; like a drug.

    So yes, there will be plenty of people out there that will find ways to game the system. Over time the greatest weight will always be on original and timely/relevent content. Period. I have +1 buttons on all of my landing pages. I believe that they only have one like on each. But with 18 million unique visitors a year collectively; I really don’t care! “Stay white and you will always be right!” :-)

  • http://www.roiunlimited.com/mycashforums matt

    Concerning Google +1′s, I even think they analyze account activity to determine if it’s a real account with search history and emails sent / received beside Google+1′s. Do you think they do ?

    • http://www.zaddle.co.uk Zaddle

      Matt – I would agree.

      I think Google will look at the overall Google Account profile (including how long it has been around) and the activity the account has had.

      If accounts suddenly start appearing and “+1″ing then this would be no different to Google getting suspicious of sudden link building trends on a website.

      If +1 becomes a reasonably large portion of a sites SERP listing position then Google will already be way ahead in recognising natural and unnatural.

      I also think the purpose of the +1 might not be for “generic” results but to actually show you the sites YOUR CONNECTIONS on Google have liked – this would follow the same pattern (and habits) that we have on pages like facebook – you see “friends” have liked a new page or group and go see for yourself what the site is – if you do a search for a generic product or service and see a couple of friends / contacts have +1′d a site you are likely to click the site (as you see this as a recommendation from them).

      Just a theory mind!!! :)

      • http://www.ewindowwashing.com Tory

        Agreed, good point Matt.

  • http://www.mindclinichypnosis.com Ralph P

    I think the public is bamboozled into believeing that google can figure all this stuff out. The notion that because a website has a lot of links to it that somehow makes it more valuable was unreliable to begin with. All it has done is given rise to an industry that is dedicated to gaming the system. Webmasters around the world are using whatever methods are necessary to obtain links to their websites including buying links. Google can’t possibly know if you bought a link or not regardless of their proclamations to the contrary. Google’s entire methodology is a farce that is creating a lot of useless make work for webmasters and that is why the industry needs some real competition.

    • Beamer

      I’ve said the same thing, Ralph. I consider link building in the grey hat/black hat category. A website should stand on it’s own merits. Not the amount of links coming to it. Going around begging or paying for links I will not do.

      I get requests to link trade links with my site that never get answered. Links to my site are natural, not bought and paid for nor begged for. They link to me, not me to them.

      Had a new client with a spanking brand new domain. I had it on the first page of Google for their key words and primary market in 3 days. No lie, no link juice, no begging, no paying for links. Didn’t even submit it to the engines. Just sent the spiders to it after I made darn sure the SEO was properly done.

      Said it before and saying it again. Pure organic white hat, internal linking, relevant unique and useful content trumps any masturbatory toy Google comes out with.

  • http://maria-johnsen.com SEO

    “Google wants to know who is doing this +1ing, which should help cut down on abuse”? Google cannot find out about it abuse thru this way. This is not the way to do it. Why Google insists on Google Plus anyway?! What is so special about Google+? I understand Google created a lot of buzz around this plus thing all over internet. There are a lot of ways to deceive Google plus which I am going to write about it in an article.
    You see, it is easy to find the pattern and deceive the search engine. The search engine algorithms contain certain patterns and commands. It is easy to deceive those patterns. Machine is dump people! Finding out about the abuse cannot be discovered through the Google plus thing, believe me. Google can improve the search results through improving their algorithm, adding the right commands, that it. They should concentrate on the other aspects of search engine improvement. Applying Google plus as another ranking signal is a disservice to Google users and investors who have invested a lot of money for application development and application improvement.

    • Beamer

      And I can’t wait to read it! Looking forward to it and I already love it. Where will I be able to find it? I know! Submit it to Webpro News so that I may feast my eyes. Hurry up about it too. :-)

    • Beamer

      “Google can improve the search results through improving their algorithm,”

      Just came back to say that this should be Google’s primary concern and goal, improving search results. Currently they’re atrocious.

      Was searching for a particular product yesterday. The search result was a whole page of the same big company. It was the only company listed on that SERP. My search was by product, not company name. Spammy as hell.

  • http://www.nobsseo.com No BS SEO

    Given the efficiency of the Google Bots a “purchased” or artificial “like” pattern is, as your article points out, going to be very easy to spot. Organic link growth is what the bots are looking for and for my money they are smart enough to pick it.
    However IF a website for whatever reason was to go viral and get a swag of legitimate links, +1′s or likes then the same bots may well not reward that site.

  • http://www.ewindowwashing.com Tory

    When +1 first came out and was still in its beta stages I and some of my friends in my industry (window cleaning) were all over it. In fact, we knew that this would be a huge thing. So we all prepared for it.

    What is very difficult for me, being a small business owner in an industry that has as its sole problem “cash flow” issues because of the nature of the industry, is having to do all of the SEO myself when I really don’t have the time for it or the money that it takes to hire a REAL seo company that is trustworthy to do it for me.

    I have written unique content on my site and its taken me many years to learn what others have forgotton with SEO. Here is my site Professional Window Cleaning.

    With the +1, I thought of a few ways to get people to hit the button, but a friend of mine brought it to my attention that WHO plus ones you is probably more important than how many plus ones you have…which I only have maybe 14.

    Its a window cleaning site, not really something that people are going to flock to for a hot ticket item. So what choices do I have?

    • Thomas

      Tory,

      Your problems are similar to mine. I also run an “off-line business” that has nothing to do with all that online social crap. My customer base is among the 50+, so few of them are on FB and few of them are sitting and playing social with a Google account. My service is also a service, which relies primarily on word-of-mouth when the topic comes up in real conversations – not something anybody will sit and blog or discussionboard about for hours.

      Those bastards at Google have still not figured out that there is a world outside the Internet that is not necessarily built on an online foundation.

      I am up against large competitors who can easily pay for getting plus-oned at a “realistic” scale that I could not even compete with if I tried. Again, the online-social-bias of Google gives the advantage to those companies with the funds to game the system and leaving those who try to run a “clean” business at a disadvantage.

      My large competitors spammed the web with links; after a while they lost their “bonus”. My large competitors bought tons of social bookmarks; after a while they lost their “bonus”. My large competitors built bogus websites; some of them are still well ranked but many of them lost their “bonus-value”…..

      My customer base will not sit and plus-one and I am sure you rely on corporate jobs where those decision makers are not sitting an plus-oning all day long either.

      This latest “Fad-by-Google” will disadvantage small off-line businesses in natural rankings will once again give a temporary bonus to large companies until Google remedy their blunder…and start the next social fad that will give bonus to those who game the system!

      • Beamer

        Absolutely agree. Just wait for the next algo change when G will penalize sites because the number of their +1 likes look suspicious. lol!!!

  • http://www.no-bs-marketing.com Paul

    Short of the folks who live and breath online, how much of the general public actually knows what a “Google +1″ button is, and what it means to press it? Probably 99.9% of the audience on my main sites do not (Facebook “likes” on the other hand, are a different matter altogether).

    Quality IM sites that attract savvy visitors are likely to obtain a disproportionate amount of +1s, while sites in general niches that don’t attract an IM-savvy crowd aren’t likely to end up with many – at least initially. Just an observation, but this reality is likely to make “gaming” all that more easy to identify.

  • http://exotikcar.com Agadir

    i think any one can creat a lot of accounts for g+ or fb like… and thene hit many time those button, so this abuse the reality of a content.

  • Beamer

    This is great, I guess, for those interested in online social cliques. But what about those who are not on here to be sociable?

    I’m on the internet conducting business, not looking for friends and +1 buttons. I have a great group of people I’m sociable with offline and spend too much time at my pc already. As previously stated, it is just more “make work” for an already BUSY webmaster.

    Take texting for instance. For crying out loud, why would I sit and type out a stupid message when I can push 7 digits, and talk to the person in less time it would take me to text them? Don’t have time for that BS. Same goes for +1. It’s BS I don’t have time for.

    For those who say that everyone better use it, then to you I say, you need to get out more! People act like life will end if you don’t put a +1 button on your site. Good GRIEF!!!!! Google may be your life. It certainly is not mine. But if the koolaide gets you off then have at it. It’s like people are under some kind of voodoo spell, wetting their pants every time G coughs.

    Stick with pure organic white hat, great content and relevancy. That’s what serious searchers are looking for, relevancy for their query. Next thing you know the only sites showing in your search will only be the +1 sites you liked. B-O-R-I-N-G!

    Further, G saying they want to know who is doing what with this +1 BS, well, that sounds kinda freaky to me. Aren’t there laws against that? When will people learn that putting your personal info on here for some scumbag to see is a dangerous game?

    Oh, and by the way, I don’t click +1 buttons. Totally ignore them. If I like a site I’ll definitely be back. There are quite a few sites I visit frequently because they have the tools and info I need. +1 has nothing to do with it.

    • http://www.kid-friendly-homeschool-curriculum.com Karen Newell

      Thank you for making the point that many webmasters don’t have the time for all the games Google and others WANT us to play. We have a life, we have a business, and we have a website that takes some of our time. The more time we spend on social media the less time we have for developing content that actually helps people.

    • AJ

      Thank you! Someone finally said it! I do not click on +1s either. If I am searching for something to help me with the sprain in my ankle I would like to advertise to my friends suitable resources for my kind of ankle pain?? And yes, Google is trying to read into everything we are doing. This is not right.

      By the way, not sure if getting +1s will help us game Google but we can surely get them by asking around on Facebook fan pages. This is commonly done for Facebook likes and can also be done for Google +1s.

      Have heard repeatedly of how Google checks into spam reports, monitors trends for spam, weeds out the bad SEOs from their SERPs but have repeatedly noticed this fact to be most untrue.

      And Beamer, I totally agree that this is more work for a webmaster and hence it makes SEO much more expensive that it used to be. The internet dream may be lost to most by the increasing start-up costs involved in SEO for new website owners.

  • http://www.deliseo.com referencement

    If +1 are not organic, Google delete all +1.

  • http://www.copy-e-writing.in/blog Ron’s SEO Copywriting Services

    I believe Google will have even a stricter watch on Plus 1 since it is already publicized to be a factor in your SERPs.

  • http://www.gear-vault.com Chaz

    I also offer free stuff for a “Like”, “re-Tweet”, or a “+1″. I don’t do it so much for ‘tricking the search engines”, but more for the people in my niche sharing my content with their friends. I get a lot of traffic from facebook, I won’t stop doing this method to please search engines, my entire goal in life isn’t to please Google, but to please my readers with great stuff. With that comes traffic, not all from Google, but Twitter and Facebook. I am not putting all my eggs in one basket… I am utilizing social media to its fullest extent. I don’t care if it improves my SERPs…. as long as I am getting traffic from legit ‘niche’ people who want what I have to offer.

    I use to be a firm believer that SEO was the wave of online marketing, but it’s not anymore. It’s a nice tool, but not the most important. Things are changing, Facebook, Twitter, Images and Email marketing is becoming just as effective as SEO, but time on site is better because friends are recommending my content to their friends… and the ‘trust factor’ is there instantaneously. Dare I say Google.com is on a sinking ship unless they can make Plus Google important?

  • Beamer

    Now here’s a thought. Is the traffic brought to you by +1 the kind of traffic you want? If you’re paying for impressions you’re not going to be happy paying and not getting any ROI.

    All traffic is not necessarily good traffic. People visiting for grins and giggles is not good traffic, not to mention the wasted bandwidth.

    Good traffic is potential customers with their credit cards ready to buy your products and services or clicking ads on your site that make money for you.

  • http://rjnselection.co.uk Rich

    how many people have a google account and how many of those are going to be logged in and clicking the +1 buttons?

  • Art

    I highly doubt they will be able to control the fake likes. Its the same as counterfeit money, every time the phoney bills are traced the counterfeiters make new ones and life goes on.

    Thanks for the post Chris,
    Art.

  • Jamie Briggs

    I actually got a +1 for a strange typo I had. I was using Dragon Natural Speaking and didn’t check my work. “breasts are a good source of something etc. etc..” it should have said “chicken breasts are a good source of something etc. etc..”.

    I wonder if the +1 system can be exploited on a mass scale like this.

  • http://www.Naturaldogtraining.INFO Paul Anderson

    Popularity does not indicate or imply quality. In fact the reverse is usually true because people want to be told what they want to hear, and what they want to hear is not usually what is best for them. The masses love junk, trash, hedonism, shallowness and passing fads. They do not want to be challenged to expand their minds or to develop personal growth and make correct decisions about life, or even to think for themselves. They want pleasure and instant gratification – and that is what the Like button is promoting above the websites that offer properly researched information that enhances and not detracts.

  • Art

    If its page rank you want put this code on your website, it comes small enough you can place it anywhere.


    Cheers!

  • http://www.greenplan.pt www.greenplan.pt

    Agree with that popularity does not measure quality.

  • http://xn--e-hs8cp4s.com/ 英語勉強法

    when i’m searching for something through google or other search engines, i never look at the +1. what matters to me are the descriptions. if i’m buying blue widgets and the description says sales on blue widgets, then i’ll click that link over a site with many +1s.

  • http://www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz

    Some statistical reasons why it would be very hard to fake +1s and likes on a large scale:

    Clusters (as covered by the article) – If each fake account is +1ing and liking the same pages, then the accounts would form a cluster which is too well defined. Even if effort was put into varying the number of +1s and likes of each account, it would still only cover a very narrow range of pages. Even if effort was put into +1ing and liking some other pages (that the faker isn’t interested in improving the rankings for), it would still appear a lot more clustered than it should.

    Timing – The timing of fake +1s and likes is highly likely to stand out from the real ones. If they all happen at once, it would appear unrealistic. If they happen at equally spaced intervals, it would appear unrealistic. If there is a sudden jump (which is likely to be the case at the beginning), it would appear unrealistic. If the fake +1s/likes don’t converge, and show endless growth, then it would set off alarm bells.

    Spread/Sharing – Even if effort was put into making the overall timings appear realistic (i.e. a realistic +1/like growth and convergence pattern), it is unlikely the spread of those +1s/likes would be realistic. For example, if someone +1s or likes a page, then their friends may see it, and then +1/like it. If there is a smooth growth/convergence pattern, then it is highly likely there would be sharing. If the total +1s/likes have a realistic growth curve, but there is no evidence of sharing, then there would be some evidence of faking.

    Fake Account Behaviour – There are various reasons why fake accounts stand out from real ones, including: the amount of unilateral activity, the amount of interaction, who they connect with, how long they (or their connections) have been around for etc. Statistical models could be built which classify accounts as real/fake, or estimate the likelihood of an account being fake.

  • http://www.southwestgerberknives.com Chris

    But what about those that are simply running ads periodically on Facebook? That could definitely cause a spike in likes? The ad may even be periodically turned on and off due to budgeting. This is simply another way of advertising one’s brand online and not necessarily trying to “Game” the search engines.

    However, I’m sure they can tell who’s “gaming” and who’s not.

    Take Care,
    Chris

    • http://www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz

      Likes that result from ads running periodically on Facebook could easily be identifiable from the fake likes. When looking at the total number of likes for each week the figures may look like sharp spikes, but when the data is displayed with an hourly period (or even shorter), there would be enough random variation in the times between each like to suggest that those likes aren’t from an automated fake likes program. The times between each like might conform to an exponential distribution (after the outliers have been removed), or something more generalised like a Weibull distribution.

      • http://www.southwestgerberknives.com Chris

        Excellent information, makes perfect sense…

        Thank you very much!

        Chris

  • http://likelitelife.blogspot.com Like Lite Life

    To keep it simple, +1 is a ranking signal too, just like retweets and likes. When I +1 any page on my blog, Google crawls it immediately, isn’t that quite helpful?

    Aditya

  • http://www.weddingsnapper.com.au/blog Wedding Snappper

    I get a ridiculous number of emails offering me to buy Facebook ‘likes’. It must be big business for someone?

    • http://www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz www.statisticalconsultants.co.nz

      It isn’t a good idea to buy ‘likes’. Since the bought automated likes aren’t done by genuine accounts, it is unlikely that many connections of the fake liker (if they have any) will see the liker’s like, meaning the likes probably won’t yield more likes. Also, I have read that the rate of interaction by likers is also taken into account. Buying 1000 fake likes, would almost certainly lower the rate of interaction.

  • http://www.mytradezone.com MyTradeZone – The B2B Social Network

    I think this abuse seems to highlight one of the fundamental questions of whether “Likes” or +1s are even a useful feedback tool. I still think actual reviews and ratings offer much more useful feedback from users.

    • http://www.q3tech.com/cloud_platforms.html Cloud Computing Platforms

      Not really a useful feedback tool, the +1 and the like button give a bigger picture about the interests and choices of people using social media. Also, I dont think Google will let its users exploit them just because of a +1 button !

  • http://www.seonorthamerica.com Tom Aikins

    If Google keeps Google+ profiles limited strictly to real people as they are trying to do it would seem to be almost impossible to game them. You might be able to but with the time and effort required you’d probably be better off just doing things straight.

  • http://www.azucofix.com Registry Cleaner

    That is good. People have already started selling Google +1. This PR for sale thing must stop.

  • Yoda

    What Google is doing is horrible and may end up shooting them in the foot. According to the theory that +1s = pagerank Google is saying that unless a person has a Gmail account their hits on our sites don’t count. This will add fuel to the idea that Google search is a monopoly.

    My biggest site sees over 2000 registered members a day and 10s of thousand of visitors. After placing the +1 button on the site for a couple weeks I managed to pick up about 20 +1s. The website is THE site for it’s topic on the net, bar none, having been online since the ’90s.

    Obviously the number of +1s I have received has nothing to do with the true value of the site.

  • Syndk8

    *Yawn* – Is Google really attempting to claim that their +1 “can’t” be gamed? If Anonymous & Lulzsec have taught us anything, it should be to never say never – or in this case, “can’t”.

    If they expect a naive public to accept their assertion that the only way to game the +1′s would be to use a service or “like farms” then sure, its easy for them to paint that picture. That said, they completely ignore strategies that a true, seasoned black hatter might use like a very slow “drip” campaign across mechanical turks. That’s only one example, and not a very good one but it does go to show how Google is banking on the general public’s ignorance of black hat tactics vs the limitations of their own technology. Unless we are discussing semantic search, black hat will always be a part of the equation. For Google to assert otherwise to webmasters/advertisers is a flat out lie.

  • http://www.aoay.ca Calgary markting

    interesting to know, but I am sure some black hat stuff will emerge soon.

  • http://www.raidersonlineshop.com Oakland Raiders Jersey

    I just want to say the google change at every moment!!

  • http://www.modeltrainhobbyist.com Lionel Bachmann

    What I don’t understand is that Google gives clear guidelines for what they are looking for in quality sites that they will rank high, and yet people still try to figure out a way around it. In my opinion, they spend more time trying to do black hat tactics that only last for awhile than they would if they put together a quality site. They seem to think they can stay one step ahead of the hundreds of PhDs that are employed by the search engines. The odds are not in their favor.

  • http://www.midtnmusic.com/ Bret Campbell (@JediBret)

    At Mid-Tenn, we always advise our associates to avoid any sort of black hat seo. It seems rather obvious to me that buying likes, +1′s, or any other sort of shares is, well, obvious. I get anywhere from 5-100 messages a day from some company wanting me to purchase their black-hat-trickery. If Google or any other search engine can figure out who we are and all the other information about us, it is only reasonable that they already know who it is that runs the sites offering paid +1′s etc.

    Getting a high ranking should not be the goal of any business or blogger. Providing the kind of quality content that produces a high ranking is the important thing. Content is King!

    That being said, I have to admit that I still find it amazing that one can post the most informative article or the best song or video in the world and beg friends to check it out – only to get a couple of comments that amount to “that sucks”. But, post a picture of a dog urinating on a doughnut and it will get shared, liked and +1′ed all over the net in minutes. Surely Google has that figured out, also. Why would they spend millions on research otherwise?

  • http://www.universalcarpetcleaningtampa.com Universal Carpet Cleaning

    Google will forever be changing and i don’t thing the +1 idea will catch on as much as people think and won’t have a big enough influence on site rankings. I truly believe that site rankings will weigh on relevnat links and good high quality content with the consumer in mind. Facebook like and google +1′s for the most part has not caught on with people so far, atleast with the people i speak with and socialize with, most have no idea what it is.

  • http://asktinu.com Tinu

    That graphic is so helpful for explaining to people why popularity can’t be bought. To those of us who are knee deep in the technology every day, it’s obvious, even boring. But try articulating it to the head of a traditional marketing department who may not see that throwing money in the direction of faux social signals doesn’t pay off. That alone made the article worth reading in my eyes.

  • http://www.bellycommoditytrading.com/ winnie

    I also think that, google +1 does not influence on site ranking at all.

  • http://www.gerberknivesdirect.com Johnny

    Great info Chris….Do you think the latest Penguin update at G gave more weight to sites with +1? It seems to me that there are some really crappy sites (and some that are totally irrelevant) in search results now.

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