Why You Should Care About Like / Click Fraud

Photo: Yagi Studio / Getty

'Like fraud'. Maybe you’ve heard the term before, maybe not. You can probably guess what the term means. Basically, 'Like fraud' is akin to buying votes. There are unscrupulous companies and individuals out there that will attempt to game the system using “offshore click farms” where fake likes and clicks are generated by the thousands or by attemtping 'click stuffing' on their own using other methods.

The profiles making the fake clicks / likes are likely generated by thousands of script-generated bogus accounts. There is apparently no shortage of people buying and selling likes. Prices range anywhere from a half a cent (US currency) per click on up.

The fake like market is varied. You can buy LinkedIn connections, fake views, fake listens, fake ad clicks, fake reviews, fake endorsements, you name it , and you can probably buy yourself a few thousand of whatever “it” may happen to be.

Many of these “click farms” have moved offshore to avoid the potential legal consequences of dealing in this seemingly shady enterprise.

What’s The Harm in Buying Fake Clicks / Likes?

If you get caught inflating clicks through artificial means, you could lose your advertising revenues as Google and other ad networks have become fairly good at detecting artificial clicks and will drop you like a hot rock if they suspect that you are trying to use fake clicks to generate more ad revenue for yourself.

You could also experience social media backlash if you are found buying likes. People never like a company who tries to cheat their way to success. Have a good product or service that people like and the clicks will likely find you eventually.

Are People Really Paying For Fake Likes / Clicks?

Surprisingly, yes they are. Here are some examples on how much people are paying for fake clicks and likes:

  • 250 Google+ Shares for $12.95
  • 1,000 SoundCloud Plays for $9
  • 1000 Instagram Followers for $12
  • 1000 Twitter Followers for $10
  • 1 million Twitter Followers for $600

How Can You Tell If Someone Has Fake Likes?

Look at The People Who Like Them (if Possible)

Do the people who like them have very few friends on their friends list?  This could be a sign of dummy profiles created by bot scripts to boost the number of likes. Do all the likes come from one specific country or area? Non-diversity could be another sign of fake likes.

Some of the larger more sophisticated “like farms” on the Internet may be able to evade detection. Their clicks may show the appropriate amount of diversity, allowing them to remain undetected.

Don’t Ever Try “Click Stuffing” Your Own Advertisers

If you think you are going to up your ad revenue by clicking on your own ads or maybe telling friends to click on your ads, think again. Google and others have sophisticated methods of detecting 'Click Stuffing' as mentioned earlier and they will pull your ill gotten ad revenue and then possibly ban you from from participating in their ad networks in the future.

I’ve witnessed first hand someone visiting ads on their own site, or attempting to help their friends click rate, thinking they would be random enough to stay under the radar, but Google was wise to the game and shut the whole thing down resulting in hundreds of dollars of lost ad revenue and a ban from using Google Ads in the future, all because they told their friends to click on ads to help their numbers.

Ad click behavior is fairly predictable. Google and other networks can quickly detect collusion and click stuffing. The best advice is to let your ads do their thing. Don’t encourage people to click stuff, or you might be accused of artificially inflating your ad stats, resulting in the loss of all your current and future ad revenue.