YES, Your PPC and SEO Traffic CAN be Easily Faked
About fake PPC and SEO traffic. YES, it happens. I’m not talking about fake clicks on ads to reap PPC payment, I’m talking about agencies who provide false clicks to get paid for PPC and SEO services that they DO NOT REALLY DO.
Read on, but overall, if you don’t do these services in house, then you must engage and monitor/hold accountable REPUTABLE PPC and SEO companies. That’s your best prevention.
Background: Many people understand today that email blast traffic can be faked with robots and can even include some humans in what I call “Stan” traffic (AfghaniSTAN, PakiSTAN, etc. where c”lick labor” is inexpensive). So it can start to look pretty good and require a deep dive to discern it’s truth and relevance, if a dubious email vendor buys a high enough quality of fake traffic. And many understand that there is a $14billion click fraud problem across all vertical markets in the US every year. This isn’t about that–this is about faking traffic so that a PPC or SEO service APPEARS to be provided but is NOT being provided…but is, of course, charged to the dealer by the bad vendor.
How PPC and SEO traffic is faked: What is NOT well understood are the details of using this same technique to produce false “google / cpc” and “google / organic” traffic. With a simple UTM tag you can fake PPC traffic using “www. anydealeryouwant. com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc”, and/or a dubious vendor can provide fake organic clicks that have NOTHING to do with any SEO efforts by using “www. anydealeryouwant. com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic”.
I know this because I caught a bad SEO vendor doing it. They were collecting $7k a month for two site’s SEO and had no content, no Yext, no anything that they claimed they had that helped produce the traffic. They cursed my name and left the dealer immediately. And, no, I don’t name vendors and won’t, since I am sick of my lawyer driving a better car than me.
How is this fake traffic for PPC and SEO even allowed??You may not know, but the Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) company that Google bought years ago ,and incorporates even in it’s own PPC business, is overall non-secure (see my note below about the GCLID for PPC). So, by using the UTM codes above, fake PPC traffic can be produced that is useful for a dubious agency who, say, doesn’t link the Google Adwords account so that the actual campaigns can be seen by the client dealer. The fake organic (SEO) traffic, using the UTM codes above, is even MORE useful to a dubious agency, as it requires no Adwords at all and accountability is very hard. To do this, the bad actors just have to buy better traffic (e.g. looks more human) on the click market and send it through to the dealer with these tags.
What to DO: Engage REPUTABLE PPC and SEO vendors, or face low sales from fake traffic.
P.S.: One of the things I get when I bring this up for the Adwords part is the use of GCLID (Google Click ID) that people THINK suppresses false Adwords traffic. It can help, but beware vendors who want ADMIN access to your GA. 😉
P.P.S.: A good online article about click fraud on this link–and see especially the part here about “organic”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Click_fraud#Manipulation_of_organic_search_results
And if you need someone to take a look at your online traffic to discern what IS and IS NOT working, contact The BullCutter! 🙂
Have a great rest of the month!