How to Get a Celebrity to Endorse ALL your Products on Google

by rishil on December 28, 2011

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.

Matt Cutts Shared This

Matt Cutts Shared This

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?

Matt Cutts Circles

Matt Cutts Circles

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.

Aaron Wall Circles

Aaron Wall Circles

So imagine my surprise when I saw:

Aaron Wall +1 Fleece Blankets

Aaron Wall +1 Fleece Blankets

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?

  1. He DID plus eBay.com, and NOT .co.uk. Google merged it to the .co.uk domain.
  2. He later REMOVED his plus. Google ignored the fact.
  3. He plussed the root domain. Google indicates that he plussed  the SPECIFIC Ad Page.
  4. 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!

Aaron Wall +1 SEO DVD

Aaron Wall +1 SEO DVD

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…

Update: Bing does the same with your Facebook likes

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Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile

{ 2 trackbacks }

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December 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm
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January 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ankur Sharma December 28, 2011 at 10:00 pm

That is some trick!! :D

Reply

Mohul December 29, 2011 at 8:42 am

well, its not happening now.. I couldn’t see such thing happening, atleast in Indian IPs..

Reply

Carla Holcombe December 29, 2011 at 9:14 am

Great spot Rishil. Google play different rules when it comes to making money from their AdWords – worth taking advantage of though for the right brands.

Reply

Geoff Jackson December 29, 2011 at 10:31 am

Typical of Google, telling us what they think we want to see whilst pushing their own platform via any means.

Reply

David Sottimano December 29, 2011 at 11:06 am

Oh well isn’t this a fun little exploit! Ok, correct me if I’m wrong here, but for this to work effectively for me, I’d have to:

Be signed in
Have a G+ account
Have Aaron Wall in my circles

Is that right? I’m not really on the G+ bandwagon yet :S

Thinking grey for a second, I wonder if we got Lady Gaga to +1 an organic listing / page, then rel=canonical’d it to a product page?

Reply

Charlie Screendrip December 29, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Well, that is just a teeny bit worrying…

Interesting to see the gap between what they are doing to make money from adwords and their best practises for everyone else.

Great spot dude!

Reply

Someone Pretnding to be Matt Cutts December 29, 2011 at 11:57 pm

I talked to someone on the Google bus regarding this glitch but to re-iterate the ever mentioned brand bias: brands sometimes are just better. Add the fact that brands pay our bills salaries by advertising why are so surprised? Small sites can become brands too, no one is stopping them. Of course small sites need not spend what Overstock.com or Sears spend, but when they spend nothing on adwords they lose the moral authority to whine.

Note form Rishil: I dont know who this is… but I will allwo the comment as the sentiment behind it resonates.

Reply

Adam Melson January 2, 2012 at 7:59 pm

TONS of issues with Google doing this. Bing continues to do it a ton, like if I search for sayyy Westboro baptist church and it shows me three friends like the article about them protesting a funeral….but it turns out they only liked FoxNews on facebook. They might be the head of the anti westboro club, but Bing doesn’t care. Google was pulling this in correctly with tweets where it showed “Matt Cutts shared this link” and he really did share that specific page that is being displayed in SERPs, but this is jumping over a boundary. Nice coverage on Google for sure, my writeup on bing is over at http://www.seerinteractive.com/blog/bing-results-abuse-your-likes

Reply

Craig Kilgore January 2, 2012 at 8:06 pm

great post and very interesting discovery … will be interesting to see what Google’s take is on this .. thanks for posting!

Reply

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