Google has been fighting spam right from the time it started indexing the web but as the anti-spam methods and tactics become rigid the spammers too come up with more sophisticated methods making the anti-spam teams restart from square one. This reminds me of the snakes and ladders game that we played in childhood where the player reaches almost the finish of the game but has to go back all the way because he comes across a snake just one square before the finish box.
Google lately has been doing well in combating diverse methods of spam by the Panda and the Penguin updates but as the search engines to come up with better quality results have integrated social and search , the impact of fake fans, likes, reviews, followers, etc is bound to be felt by the search engines too .
This kind of social media spam is bound to effect the quality of search results for sure.The social media and search budgets are showing an increasing trend according to SEMPO 2012 Survey but at the same time the measurement and ROI of SEO and Social Media are still a very big challenge .
I think this kind of pressure on social media companies adds the fuel to the social media spam fire in the form of fake fans, likes, reviews, followers etc. The PageRank technology made the black hat SEOs go on a link building spree in the form of paid links and other black hat methods of building low quality links and in the bargain defeated the very purpose of the PageRank introduced by Google. If this social media spam increases the very purpose of social and search integration is going to be defeated as the users will get distorted opinions in the search results adversely affecting the trust of the online buyers and in the long run have a negative impact on the growth of the ecommerce industry.
Google now not only combats spam from the search perspective but also keeps a check on the social media signals which are being incorporated to display search results. Google gives priority to the social media signals from Google+ and with the Authorship markup, +1s , rich snippets, meta data, etc. it tries to verify the signals trying to beat this social media spam as much as possible.
We also as social media and website owners can help in reducing the spam at this very stage when it is still at the initial stage and not let it become rampant like the spammy links on the web which the spammy link builders built just to have a high PageRank and Google had to devalue its importance and also have a Penguin Update.
Social media is not only Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google+ but also blogs which generate UGC in the form of comments and reviews.
How can we as website owners and social media participants try to reduce the spam from mushrooming on the web?
We sure can try by the following some Dos and Donts:
1. Always moderate comments and add the comment only if it adds to the discussion.
2. Always give genuine reviews only when one is logged in to their Google account or a reputed social media account
3. Keep blocking spammy followers on Twitter else they will add up to the fake followers in your account which may negatively impact your account.
4. If we keep blocking these spambots then they get deleted by the social media sites else we are giving them a platform to exist.
5. Connect with people whom you think contribute to your knowledge or may benefit from your knowledge .
6. If you have a blog then add the Authorship Markup so that Google can verify the identity of the authors.
7. Have a company social media account to engage with existing customers and potential customers to clear their doubts so that they get genuine first hand information . This will surely help in restoring the trust in ecommerce.
All the fake social media fans, followers, likes, +1s, reviews and other forms of UGC might show a rosy picture to the brands in a myopic way but in the long run it will become the main reason for the decreased online sales as this will be the major reason for which the online buyer will lose trust and not feel confident to buy online.