The pressure to build up a huge social media base is so strong these days that some web publishers have turned to black hat tech techniques, like buying followers, to help them along.

While the thought of spending twenty or thirty dollars on a few hundred Twitter followers sounds pretty appealing, it’s a temptation that comes with a heavy price. Black hat social media strategies are definitely on Google’s radar and can tank page rankings in a heartbeat.

In a recent posting on SearchEngineJournal, Alpha Brand Media blogger Albert Costill laid out the consequences of wearing a black hat in the social space.

The Truth About Google & Social Media

Though most SEOs believe otherwise, Google representatives have repeatedly said that social signals aren’t that big a deal.

In a help video from last year, Google SEO guru Matt Cutts said, “Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it, then we can return that in our search results.”

What Cutts doesn’t mention is that as much as 30% of all organic traffic is generated from social media. That means that the pressure’s on web publishers to make a splash in the social space or risk leaving money on the table.

You Can’t Fake Authenticity

With huge chunks of traffic, and the accompanying revenue it generates, on the line some web publishers just can’t resist the urge to take a few short cuts.

But Google doesn’t care how many Twitter followers you’ve got, they care about what those followers are sharing. Zombie followers, by their very definition, are unable to provide that information.

Authenticity is a big deal to Google and it’s something they track quite closely. Those web crawling bots the company deploys are very good at sniffing out social frauds and a lack of organic web activity is the black hat’s biggest tell.

In short, if you think your zombie Twitter followers or YouTube viewers are going to fool Google, you’ve got another thing coming.

It’s a Poor Use of Resources

At the end of the day, throwing cash at black hat social media practices just isn’t a good use of your limited resources.

Instead of spending a few hundred dollars on phony followers, you’d be better off spending that money developing high quality content that actual humans can find and share. That’s what Google and end-users are really looking for.


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