You see, I love finding interesting gaps in Google, both Organic and Paid Search results. I haven’t often spoken about Paid search manipulation, although it does exist, from arbitrage to brand manipulation. However I always love it when I spot something new, that could have been an innocent mistake, but could be used to pervert the normal run of PPC ads. And I spotted one today that made the mental clogs whirr.
Better Click Through with Celebrities
Ok, let’s say that your products were always endorsed by celebrities. And that you could manipulate them into doing this, almost free, with the thanks of Google. Would you? I know I would. Just imagine, Justin Biebers millions of fans seeing his face on your PPC ads, thinking that he endorsed your site! I bet sales would go up. Or what if Oprah’s face turned up on your ads for weight loss programmes? Jackpot!
Well, it’s not as impossible as you would imagine. A simple flaw in Google’s +1 and Adwords algo could enable you to pull something like that off.
Google Plus? Adwords?
As an SEO, you most probably know that if anyone from your network that shared a link via Google Plus, or “plussed” a link, they would show up on your ordinary Google searches. See for example a Google search for “Webmaster Tools”. Cool, Matt Cutts shared that page.
With this next screenshot, you can see that Matt has more than 150K people with him in their circles, which means they will most probably see him when they search for anything endorsed by him. Fair enough right?
However, at some point this year, Google has opted adwords and adsense sites into the Google Plus program. Which means, that if anyone plussed a particular page, those pluses will ALSO show up on adwords. Regardless whether they are organic pluses or paid search pluses.
Aaron Wall Did Not Plus This
As you can see below, Aaron Wall could be considered a celebrity within the industry of SEO, he has over 10K followers on Google Plus (and 18K plus on twitter) . You would consider his recommendations worth a look and anything he has to say about SEO, most definitely worth a read.
So imagine my surprise when I saw:
I could’nt help myself and sent that tweet off to Aaron, whose reaction, understandably was summarised in the following tweets:
interesting tidbit there. I did a + on US site, but not on all pages nor internationally. And after removing the + it still appears
that is just another Google #scam … you +1 one site & the ad claims you +1′ed A SPECIFIC PAGE on a different site no less #scam
that Google ad flat out #lies , it claims I personally endorsed a page I did not. I hope they do this on a celeb n get sued
Google’s brand bias again. Just because I recommend registrar x’s domains doesn’t mean I like their junk no-value SEO package
You know when you start merging stuff cross domains in weird ways it is cloaking or spam. but Google can falsely merge u & its fine.
Google doing that garbage is no better than the acai scammers using Oprah … in aggregate it is actually probably far more harmful
btw, am not faulting eBay on this, as every marketplace has some junk, but this scam’s engineered by Google to increase ad clicks
keep in mind Google’s verbiage “name x recommends THIS PAGE” … not “THIS SITE” or “A SITE FROM THIS COMPANY”
someone will probably put up a scam SEO package on Google pages & collect the @mattcutts endorsement. then move it into sales copy
Take Away from Aarons Tweets?
- He DID plus eBay.com, and NOT .co.uk. Google merged it to the .co.uk domain.
- He later REMOVED his plus. Google ignored the fact.
- He plussed the root domain. Google indicates that he plussed the SPECIFIC Ad Page.
- Its false endorsement, manipulated by Google.
For the past few years, both Aaron and I and quite a few other SEOs are spotting disturbing behaviour by Google. see this post by aaron for example – Schema or Scam?
Can You Use It?
Well, I haven’t tried it yet, but I know that Aaron DOES NOT recommend SEO DVDs from eBay, nor does he recommend make money DVDs from eBay. But that doesn’t stop Google from telling me he does!
How could you use it?
Imagine being a brand or a retail site. Then creating a strong, promotional and flattering page about your celebrity target. But DON’T allow access to that page without a Google Plus – so they have to plus the page. Now get a few fans tweeting / messaging the celebrity to check the page out. In order for them to access the page, they would have to hit the Google Plus button. They look at the page, either form an opinion, or don’t. Pointless to worry about that.
Now run Google Ads. Hopefully, if the flaw in Google Adwords and Google Plus still works, you have the celebrity endorsing almost every PPC advert…. Sit back and collect cash.
Now go off and Plus this page…
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile