Social Media Is The New Blackhat

What happens when fake friends tell fake friends about your product? Does anyone care? Actually, yes, Google Google. They care because of how intertwined Social Media and SEO rankings are. SEO best practices are and should be the foundation of any business’ online marketing strategy. However, Social Media is not stand alone and is an essential part of that SEO strategy. Social media can help boost an SEO ranking when there is tons of buzz being generated in social feeds.

A recent study by Shareaholic, which tracked 300,000 websites over four months, suggested that social-media referrals now lead to 30 percent of websites’ overall traffic. But just like SEO, Social Media can have its dark side as well. The old trend was to try and scam Google using Black Hat SEO tricks and the new trend is to try and trick Google and users using Social Media as the New Black! And it’s backfiring on companies just like SEO did.

social media is the new blackhat


Not All Social Signals are Organic or Authentic

Not all social signals are authentic or organic. If you’re using a social site to boost SEO and brand awareness, we hope you haven’t been caught trying to fake your way to a following because it’ll ultimately put you in SEO jail. Google did a great job of fighting off black hat SEO marketers because it got better and better at identifying high quality websites. They’ve now turned their attention towards measuring the quality of your friends, likes, and views.

Buying a Friend

There are a lot of sources out there that will all sell likes and followers for a price. Whether you’re creating fake Facebook profiles to interact with your business’ Facebook page, cloaking deceptive content, writing fake reviews, or purchasing YouTube views, SoundCloud plays for your artists, LinkedIn LinkedIn connections, and likes and followers for Facebook, Twitter Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, it’s the same result: it makes you seem popular at face value but Google is learning to look past face value, more than ever they’re looking under the hood.

If all your ‘friends’ are from Croatia or India but your company is based in California, something is amiss and Google will find out and punish you. Google and YouTube spokeswoman Andrea Faville said: “(we) take action against bad actors that seek to game our systems.” And if you look at recent history, YouTube just wiped out billions of views from recording artist who were faking views to boost popularity.

Faking Virality

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and most marketers dreams are to go viral. Because of that, you can guarantee there are people trying to ‘fake or create’ virality. The common mistake is to taking the easy route and buy a couple thousand views to kick start the party and generating some ‘fake’ virality before it ultimately organically takes off. Wrong!  – If you went to a party that was suppose to be really cool, would you be able to tell immediately? So can Google. You can’t fake organic growth. If you buy 3,000 views, YouTube is waiting to see if there is organic growth. There is a reason it stops at the 301 mark. It’s waiting and measuring the quality of actual views and organic behavior. As Alex Bean from Fresh Consulting said, “Google doesn’t look at the fans or numbers of them, they look at the fans behavior. You can’t fake that.”

Bots will not share or retweet your post among influential friends and circles, they are either a computer or person simply paid to click the ‘like’ button and that won’t carry viral weight. If you have valuable content on social media, you will get organic social media reach and fans. If you are buying fake fans, then it sends signals that your content is not valuable enough to get organic fans and alerts Google accordingly.

Shape a Review

Social media marketing expert Ophelie Lechat discusses how black-hat tactics are generally unsustainable and Google usually neutralizes them with every algorithm update. Last year, an update to Google’s spam detection algorithms was aimed at stopping Local business’ from the number of reviews appearing on some Google+ Local pages. Google is very aware that local business owners are doing everything they can to scam the online reviews. They issued a warning to business owners that “fake glowing testimonies” written by SEO or reputation management companies will be taken down.

The Truth About How Social Effects SEO

It’s evolving. All the time. Every day, they tweak their algorithms to filter out spammers. Every year or two, they also roll out major updates that cause huge shifts in search engine rankings for nearly everyone on the web. As explained by the experts at Search Engine Land: Google launched the Penguin Update in April 2012 to better catch sites spamming its search results, in particular those doing so by buying links or obtaining them through link networks designed primarily to boost Google rankings. When the Panda update came out, it was meant to stop sites with poor quality content from working their way into Google’s top search results.

The next Google update will undoubtedly not only keep out spammers but it will purposely penalize those companies that tried to utilize Social Media Black Hat methods as it did with Expedia earlier this year who lost 25% of their visibility. Companies using social media to make false representations risk losing all of their social media efforts and wasted money on fake content, interactions, and fans along with their SEO rank when detected.

One thing we know is that Google is obsessed with transparency and not being tampered with. They won’t remove a negative review unless there is a major violation of their guidelines but even then it takes a lot of time to prove it. Twitter’s Jim Prosser said it best about using Social Media Black Hat tactics: ‘There’s no upside. In the end, their accounts are suspended, they’re out the money and they lose the followers.” If Google finds that you’ve purchased a stadium of fake people in hopes to improve SEO traffic, it won’t just ignore you. It’ll shut you down, fine you, and remember what you did.If it doesn’t do it now, just wait till the next release.

Image Credit:  Orange is the new Black – Netflix

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