A report by the Atlantic shined a light on a new “social media service” which allows users to purchase Google +1′s in bulk. The site in question, Pluseem, has a variety of different Google+ package sizes, from 50 plusses to 2,000, with the prices ranging from $0.18 – $0.38 per plus.
Of course this is a direct violation of Google’s quality guidelines:
Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
The service makes the following claims about their sale of plusses:
- All +1′s come from people with a Google account that has been verified by phone (Phone Verified Accounts)
- All +1′s come from real people. No bots are being used!
- All +1′s are being given by manually going to your website and clicking the +1 button
- It’s untraceable because the +1′s are being given from different IP’s
- All +1′s are given dripped over a couple of days so it looks natural
Interestingly, the website in question was sold less than one week ago for $115 (about the price of 1,000 plusses!) Of course this isn’t the only site out there with promises of gaming social platforms. With some simple searches, anyone can find a variety of packages that offer similar services. This is also fairly regular on other popular sites like Digg, Facebook and Twitter.
Why You Shouldn’t Use Services Like These
You can absolutely get some quick votes with a product like this … but should you? Any skilled internet marketer knows this isn’t good marketing or great SEO; it’s spamming. Much like links, quality matters immensely for and social product. On Facebook your EdgeRank will slip if marketing to a non-relevant audience. On LinkedIn’s Today your profession directly affects your likes and shares. There is no reason why Google would not use quality and relevancy as well with +1′s. By paying for non-relevant users to vote or like your content on a social network you are effectively muddying your message.
In conclusion, will 2,000 votes from random users over a few days help your website? Probably not. Will it will hurt your long-term strategy while violating Google’s quality guidelines? Most likely.