There is another form of black hat marketing that is not mentioned often, but is starting to sneak it's way into many companies SEO management under the illusion that it is "Google safe".
I have talked before about “Black Hat Marketing” and why you should stay away from it. If you are not familiar with the dangers of black hat marketing, call me, lets chat. Black hat marketing is the practice of aggressive SEO tactics that focus on search engine rankings, and usually does not obey search engine rules and regulations. It is considered fraud. Some of these fraudulent techniques include keyword stuffing, invisible text, text size "0", content or page swapping just to name a few. There is another technique that has recently swept its way through social media that is not as frequently mentioned. Some don’t officially consider “black hat”, but for the most part; it could be considered really, really, dark charcoal grey.
As the Digital Marketing Coordinator for JDT Webpro, one of my duties is to constantly search the net, follow trends, research, and study. Yesterday, in my social media travels, I came across a product called “Crowdsearch.me”. It had a fantastic animated Matrix parody, linked you directly to a landing page where it explained what it does, how awesome it is, and how it can get you “closer to #1 on Google”.
What is it?
This product promises you that by simply supplying your website URL, and keywords, you can increase your rankings within HOURS. Just purchase credits, and provide information regarding demographics, duration, and spending limit, and the “crowd search army” will take care of the rest. This army is a group of paid employees that receive your query [request], go to your website, and click away! Guess what folks, this is a technique referred to as “click farming”. The basic definition of a click farm is to have large group of workers who are hired to click on paid links, ads, or in this case, the links you “supply”. The Washington post even referred to this practice as “the new sweatshop”.
How it works…
Each individual computer, or device that can be connected to the Internet in the world has a specific IP address, or “identification number”. So this “army” each has a different and unique IP address, and when they search your website, or keywords, they are making it look to Google as if these 200 or more different people are actually interested in your product or services. This makes your analytics look good, so Google brings your website up the list thinking that your site is one of the best options when people do a search for products or services related to you. They have mastered this system by opening your website, clicking on internal links and leaving the browser windows open longer than 3 minutes. This tricks Google’s web crawler system into actually thinking that this user is reading your pages, and interested in your content, thus fooling Google into thinking this is a true interest in your company. This is highly unethical, and if you get caught, could damage your reputation.
Google takes this type of unethical behavior seriously. If they catch you, you run the risk of actually being blacklisted from Google completely, or even worse. This is a form of Internet fraud. I spent a good portion of time researching this software specifically. Here are a few (of the many) red flags that figuratively slapped me in the face:
Red Flag 1: The company promises to see dramatic results in your Google rankings within HOURS of submitting your info. This is a direct result to the click farm you just submitted your website and keywords. Let’s face it, you will get results, but it’s false. Your analytics are now crowded with false data, you have already taken the first step to lie to your customers, and defraud Google. Not how I personally would build my reputation. The only thing that works is work. Period. Put in the time and effort.
Red Flag 2: The landing page brags that it is “Google safe”. Obviously many people were concerned that this was a bad idea. My mom always told me to go with my first instinct, that answer is more often than not the right one. They have a large “100% Google safe” image plastered on the site. They continue to mention that it is Google safe at-least 2-3 times in each video or advertisement they have. It feels that they are trying to convince me it’s safe, I wonder why…
Red Flag 3: The company also listed as being “seen on” credible digital marketing information sources such as Search Engine Roundtable, Search Engine Land, Search Engine Journal, and a few more. So I searched the company on 4 of the websites listed at random. Every one of these search results came up with “no entry found”… this is considered “ name dropping”. Name dropping is the practice of mentioning important, or famous people that you may or may not know in order to add credibility to yourself. They then mention the name of MOZ founder Rand Fishkin. (MOZ is a leader in its field that offers inbound marketing and marketing analytics software. These guys are legit... the real deal. I have found many of their research tools helpful.) I logged onto MOZ and looked up this software and found a forum that Rand Fishkin replied. He states,
“This isn't a legitimate tactic, nor would I expect it to work. Google's got a lot of defenses and checks to prevent manipulation of this kind, so while it could have an impact briefly and in some SERPs, I'd expect it to be mostly a waste of time and money.”
OUCH... " waste of time, manipulation, ..." Pretty strong words from a guy they credit with the success of their software. Sorry CrowdSearch.me three strikes, you are OUT! Let us not forget the countless positive reviews from so called "professional SEO managers" who go by a 1st name basis only, and there is minimal contact information to themselves, or their compaines. I personally book-marked the page as a reminder that if I see these individuals listed, to not associate with them.
Remember, SEO, and digital marketing are not meant to be a quick, instant results process. With anything of high quality, it takes time. We have warned of this before, anyone that can “guarantee” that top spot on Google, or in this case, promise huge results in a hours, should clearly be avoided. It’s just not good for business.
If you would like more information or have questions, reach out to me directly. Visit www.jdtwebpro.com, or call my office 586-826-3435.
We want you to succeed, we want your business to grow, but not at the expense of you and your staffs reputation. JDT prides itself on individual attention, integrity, and honesty to you and your business. Our job isn’t just to build a website, its to provide solutions.