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Websites Selling Google +1’s, Will Google’s Results Be Gamed?

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google-plus-1-buttonFor sale: 50 Google +1 clicks, $19.99 or 250 Google +1’s for $69.99, or 2,000 for $359.99 (currently unavailable due to high demand!), all from phone verified Google real people (no bots!) from different IPs, drip-fed over a couple of days. Totally untraceable!

Yes, this is the pitch from an actual spammy website, Plussem.com, looking to manipulate the influence of Google +1 clicks in favor of websites that buy this service. Essentially, it is telling website owners that you can show Google your site isn’t spammy by buying their spam service, and get rewarded with higher search rankings.

Considering all the effort that has gone into the +1 button and how it ties into the Google+ social project, it’s likely that Google already has plans to counter websites that are selling Plus Ones online. Assuming the site outed in The Atlantic, and other sites such as Googleplus1supply, buygoogleplus1, and Blackcatseo, are more than just a quick way to make some easy money off less knowledgeable website owners, could paid +1’s be more difficult to counter than paid links?

How does Google plan to counter +1 clicks from numerous, random global Google accounts? Is Google monitoring +1 activity and ranking the likelihood of them being spam? Will users be warned if Google thinks that an account may be being used to pass influence? Or could Google drop the rankings of websites selling such services?

Search Engine Watch contacted Google engineer Matt Cutts, head of the web spam team, but he dodged answering any questions, instead referring us to the Google Press department. Our questions remain unanswered.

Ultimately, however, the theory behind +1’s or even Facebook likes or Twitter retweets, is more about friendships or working relationships than a perfectly presented article most of the time. I would like Google to get better at serving results and am interested in what my friends and Google+ connections are recommending. Over time I know whose opinions I am more likely to click on, based on their previous suggestions.

Google must have the ability in the background to see whose social signals are clicked on more and give more weight to those. Google has a ton of user data from Gmail, YouTube, Calendar, Docs, search history and many more, so perhaps age and usage of the account is one thing Google will look at, as well as the topics the account-holder is giving +1’s to.

Perhaps this is another reason why Google has been so strict on real names and pseudonyms. While there is the eventual advertising aspect to knowing who users really are, no doubt Google wants to make sure this is one area the search results can’t be easily gamed.

Paid +1’s may not be as easily tracked to bad IP addresses, except where bots are run with multiple Google accounts from the same IP, or one person is seen doing a lot of them. Counters could be looking at the time on page in conjunction with the clicks, clicks from browsers not in the language of the articles, and heavy click counts from B Blocks.

It would seem Google is willing to allow companies to advertise services to buy Twitter followers and Facebook Fans and Likes – but there is little advertising for +1s. The Facebook and Twitter ads seem to show they Google doesn’t mind the data of social competitors being diluted.

Given there are even companies offering lifetime money-back guarantees the pluses will never be taken from the website buying them, it is interesting that the sellers haven’t gamed AdWords to sell them. There are actually 11 ads on both buying Twitter and Facebook followers or likes search pages. The +1s has a Google ad and two broad matched to Facebook Likes/Friends, that has to be a mechanical, rather than manual, pairing.

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Given there are even companies offering lifetime money-back guarantees the pluses will never be taken from the website buying them, it is interesting that the sellers haven’t gamed AdWords to sell them. There are actually 11 ads on both buying Twitter and Facebook followers or likes search pages. The +1s has a Google ad and two broad matched to Facebook Likes/Friends, that has to be a mechanical, rather than manual, pairing.

If you look at the +1 results pic above, it’s interesting that news heads the results here but not for the others - could the algorithm see selling the others as old news?


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