Google ‘+1’s for sale!

plus ones for saleIt’s time to talk about another Google+ – the +1 button Google fairly recently introduced. The feature was officially rolled out in early June as an answer to the Facebook Like, allowing users to recommend content that their friends will then see via Google’s social search.

The +1 button launch brought concerns as to how the application would affect SEO. And while exactly how it affects page rank isn’t entirely obvious yet, we know it does. Which is why it makes perfect sense that +1s are now for sale.

plussem prices

A report in The Atlantic brought our attention to a site called Plussem.com, which is offering +1s to boost your site. At Plussem, for $20 you get 50, $70 nets you 250, all the way up to $360 for 2,000. The site describes itself, saying:

“Google are [sic] now striking back at Facebook with there [sic] version of the Like button. This will be used to judge contents [sic] worth [sic] by using real people to rate it rather than there [sic] own bots. To cheat the searching algorithm be sure to get the ball rolling for your site by purchasing Plus Ones.”

If you were able to muddle your way through that grammatically-challenged mission statement, you know that there isn’t some complicated operation going on here: The site has a person with a verified Gmail account click +1 on your desired content and that way each +1 your site gets originates from a different IP address. Plussem also spreads out its +1 bingeing to make it that much more convincing. We contacted Plussem to ask about their process and if they would like to comment on the attention their site is getting. We were told that “‘where there is demand there will be supply.’ I can not explain our process publicly. I can only say that we deliver our customers the service they request for a fair price.”

An SEO company trying to game Google is hardly revolutionary. The company’s stranglehold on search is motivation enough for Web publishers to attempt to understand the nooks and crannies of its algorithm – and to then exploit them. And Google does everything it can to keep its page rank process a mystery, possibly to a fault. Its Panda updates this year had varying results, and in some cases actually hurt its content farm crackdown. So given the power it wields over search, we don’t think it’s inappropriate for Websites to do what they can to figure it all out and try to boost their page rank.

That said, this type of marketing is generally bad news. First of all, we wouldn’t trust our money anywhere that can’t figure out the difference between “their” and “there” – that’s reason enough for caution. Secondly, +1s aren’t really worth the money at this point. The feature doesn’t have the kind of pull a Facebook Like does yet given Google+’s limited userbase. On the new social network, you can see what users give a +1 – but there simply isn’t a wide enough population on the site to make that useful yet.

Currently, +1s don’t have a big effect on search results. You only see them when one of your Google contacts +1s something, and we’re willing to bet you aren’t Gmail buddies with the spammers working for Plussem. Eventually +1s might become more visible to a larger population, but that isn’t currently the case.

Not to matter. The site that operates Plussem, SEOShop.biz, also sells Facebook fans, fake product reviews, forum posts, and a handful of other faux marketing services for your site. The SEO world is riddled with this type of trickery, and we don’t necessarily advocate against exploring and experimenting with methods to boost page rank. But given Google’s harsh punishments for this type of activity and its ever-changing algorithm, this particular scheme and many like it are definitely not worth the risk.

Computing

Cloudflare’s privacy-enhancing 1.1.1.1 DNS service comes to iOS and Android

Cloudflare's 1.1.1.1 DNS resolver service has been ported to mobile devices, and now anyone with an Android or iOS device can download it for free to take advantage of its speed and privacy-boosting features.
Mobile

These 100 best iPhone apps will turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

The iPhone is the most popular smartphone in the world, and we want to bring out the best in yours. Behold our comprehensive list of the best iPhone apps, from time-saving productivity tools to fun apps you won’t be able to put down.
Mobile

Keep on clicking with the 10 best browsers for Android

Browsing the web on an Android device should not be a pain. Check out our picks for the best browsers for Android, so you can surf the web with greater ease and access a trove of unique features.
Computing

These 30 useful apps are absolutely essential for Mac lovers

There are literally hundreds of thousands of great software programs compatible with MacOS, but which should you download? Look no further than our list of the best Mac apps you can find for the latest MacOS and how they can help out your…
Social Media

Twitter tests home screen button that offers more control of your timeline

Twitter recently relaunched its reverse-chronological timeline, but accessing it means diving into settings. Now the company is testing a button on the main screen that lets you switch between the two different styles of timeline.
Social Media

Snapchat’s PR firm is suing an influencer for failing to influence

Snapchat's PR firm is suing a social media influencer for his alleged failure to promote Spectacles on Instagram. Actor Luka Sabbat was paid $45,000 upfront, but the suit claims he fell well short of the terms of the deal.
Mobile

WhatsApp finally gives in to the lure of cash-generating ads

WhatsApp's co-founders always said their messaging app would never show ads, but once the pair quit the company, it seemed inevitable that its owner, Facebook, would find a way to incorporate them.
Computing

Urban legends for the digital age: The best scary stories from the internet

In need of some simple scares this Halloween? We've combed the internet for the best creepypastas, urban legends, and scary stories. From found footage YouTube videos to a deceptively scary wiki, these stories are sure to spook.
Mobile

Shazam hooks up with Instagram Stories for another way to share songs

The latest update for Apple-owned Shazam lets iPhone users share music tracks to Instagram Stories in a few quick taps. To enable the feature, just make sure you have the latest version of Shazam loaded on your handset.
Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."