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Trade Of Google+ "likes" Growing Into A Lucrative Business

Selling Google+ "likes" is gradually becoming a rather lucrative business, helped by cheap labour and the ever-falling price of internet access worldwide; the trend is not unlike what we saw previously with Twitter & Digg back in the day, except that this has a more widespread implication for SEO and could turn the nascent social networking service into a massive headache for Google, as many try to play the system.

Google+ selling sites like Googleplus1supply, buygoogleplus1 or Blackcatseo have cropped up during the last few months - among many other websites - with the sole aim of selling Google+ "likes" to publishers and businesses.

Google has yet to officially come out against this practice which some might view as tacit approval from Google's higher ranks; after all, a quarter of the bonuses of Google's executives hinges on whether or not the company is successful in Social Media.

The going rate for google+ "likes" is roughly $250 per thousand (around £125) and most of the suppliers rely on huge networks of Google account holders, with some apparently reaching "hundreds of thousands" of accounts.

The process is quite simple; once payment has been made, the provider slowly increases +1 "likes" to the client's websites over a period of up to 14 days to improve the websites' ranking, which in turn generally means higher ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).

Dripfeeding the +1 at the rate of 100 per 24 hours means the sites that have subscribed to the scheme won't be viewed with suspicion; moreover, most of the Google+1 suppliers pledge to use only real humans to avoid raising a red flag.

One of the suppliers is even offering a lifetime guarantee that Google will never remove the "+1's" from the client's website or they will be given their money back. What does that mean for publishers and businesses? Well, if the impact of +1 is more significant than other signals and has a definite impact on Pagerank, it could be the Pandora's box that breaks Google's well-oiled machinery.

And there's an even bigger problem; some massive online freelancing websites have been inundated with Google+1 requests; we counted more than 300 ongoing Google+1 related projects on just one of them with some "requesters" looking for more than 10,000 Google+1 "likes" in one go.

Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.