In the online marketing world, as in all activities, there are legitimate and non-sanctioning practices that deviate from the professional and ethical. In recent times has seen the light a class of techniques called “astroturfing”, which should be aware not to fall into deception.
AstroStracking consists of falsifying the popularity of a brand, product or service, in order to make it look more legitimate in the eyes of the public. In this way, a website or brand new may seem, almost magically, a great success with thousands of satisfied customers (obviously false). Advanced astrophysics of programming and specially designed software may be necessary, in other cases it suffices for lack of scruples.
The purchase of fake followers on Twitter and fans on Facebook is unfortunately the most widespread astroturfing practice today. While sites such as Ebay and Mercadolibre are banned from offering these services, there are specialized websites that offer them. The argument that sellers often use is that appearing more popular makes the public more likely to follow and interact with us.
But astroturfing does not stop there. For those who want “interaction” there is the possibility to get fake retweets and favs on any retweet. You can also purchase a service that artificially increases the number of views of any video on YouTube, meaning that a video may seem like a viral success overnight.
Do you want visits to a website to simulate the success of a campaign? It is also possible, with software that changes visitor records in Google Analytics and other applications.
Another practice, which is not new but has been enhanced thanks to the Internet, is the purchase of false testimony by alleged clients. Amateur actors are offered to provide compelling video testimonials about how particular product or service has changed their lives as well as freelance copywriters offer to write such testimonials.
The “blackhat SEO” or obtaining search engine positioning by unethical methods is also in vogue. Some pseudo advertisers offer thousands of backlinks (inbound links) to websites to improve their positioning regarding certain keywords. The problem is that Google improves its defenses against this activity and the website in question can be severely penalized, to the point of disappearing from the search results.
None of these practices is infallible and, as they say, lies have short legs. For a publicist or client informed about these ways of proceeding, it should not be difficult to detect irregularities. When it comes to “popularity” in social networks, it is imperative to investigate the profiles of the accounts involved. False profiles do not withstand a detailed analysis, and in many cases “round” numbers can be a clue because purchases are made in the thousands. With regard to web traffic, we must ask ourselves where does it come from? Does it occur in time in a natural way, or do all visits arrive a single day and disappear? Do all applications have the same increment? Also, some web applications allow us to see the backlinks to our website.
Anyway, the maximum that we must not forget and that will allow us to leave aiorosos is that if something seems too good to be true, it is convenient to take a second look.