The title somewhat spoils where I’m going with this, but bear with me for a moment. Pretend you’re a young entrepreneur and you’re looking to start a web business. You read hundreds of articles and gather advice from dozens of colleagues, from old business owners to other young entrepreneurs. After months of preparation, you feel like you’re ready to go.
You hire a talented firm and design a website. You hire a few writers and gather up a backlog of content. You carefully research your niche. You gather a list of keywords for a PPC campaign. Everything is in place; all you need to do is gain traffic. You launch your site.
Days pass; your hits number in the dozens. Weeks pass and your growth is stagnant. Clearly, something is wrong. People just aren’t showing up the way you need them to. It must be because you have such low traffic it can’t start to snowball. All you need is a jumpstart, an influx of traffic to get you going. It can’t wait for organic traffic to grow, you’re losing money with such low numbers.
Finally, you stumble upon the perfect solution; Fiverr. For just five bucks – an incredibly low fee – you can pull in two months of unlimited traffic! It’s a bargain, it’s a steal!
Don’t do it. When you’re buying traffic from a site like Fiverr, one of two things will happen. Either you get the traffic or you don’t. Trust me when I say; the first option is the worst of the two. If nothing comes in, you’ve wasted $5 and that’s it. If traffic floods your site, you could be doing damage that will take months to fix.
This is the first reason to avoid buying traffic from a site like Fiverr. The majority of the traffic you get is going to come from, essentially, a robot sitting on your domain and refreshing the page over and over. This robot makes your view count shoot up, but nothing else changes. The robot doesn’t click your ads. It doesn’t buy your product. It doesn’t share your site on social media. It doesn’t tell its friends about your business. Nothing that you actually want out of a visitor happens with a robot refresher.
Sometimes, however, it’s not a refresher robot that brings in traffic. Sometimes it’s a robot that posts your website link to hundreds of social bookmarketing sites to draw in the users of those sites. At first glance, this sounds like a decent idea, until you realize what it’s actually doing; spamming your link in places irrelevant to your business. If you sell shoes, you don’t need your link on a forum dedicated to automotive gearheads, do you?
Worse, those spam links hurt. Google will see them and easily determine they were purchased or spammed, and will penalize you site. You’ll have to go through weeks or months of penalized search ranking while you hunt down those links and disavow them.
Since the traffic coming in to your site is fake or coming from unrelated sites, those users don’t care about your product. Oh, maybe one in a thousand will be interested and might stick around, but the rest will leave your site almost immediately. Your bounce rate will skyrocket.
A high bounce rate and a low amount of actually engaged traffic combines to give you very little to go on when you want to grow your site. Of course, if you’re buying traffic through Fiverr, it’s going to drop off eventually. Pay for two months, and at the 61 day mark your traffic will plummet. You’ll be lucky to make it through with one or two legitimate users sticking around. A high bounce rate and such obvious traffic spikes are easily recorded by third parties and will stick around to haunt you.
Engagement is what you want out of your readers. Ideally, when a user visits your site, they’ll read a few blog posts and maybe click through to like your Facebook page or view your product. If your marketing is particularly effective, they’ll purchase your product. When you’re analyzing what works and what doesn’t, recording engagement levels is an important indicator of success.
With fake fans, your engagement numbers drop. As mentioned above, a fake fan will never click through your site. They’ll never buy a product. They’ll never view your ads, and might not even load them. All they do is boost your traffic numbers. Higher traffic with the same engagement means a lower engagement percentage, which is detrimental to maintain.
Many sites, both old and new, use affiliate marketing in some form or another to bring in some supplemental cash. Amazon Affiliates and Google AdSense are some common basic affiliates. Google in particular pays out based on views, not just clicks. If you’re buying thousands of hits per hour, you’re probably getting them all from the same few IP addresses. Google – and other affiliates like it – can see those IPs and will realize it’s only a few addresses refreshing the page.
In the short term, this might cause your affiliate partnership to be put on hold while they audit your traffic. They will withhold payments as long as you are perceived to be gaming the system. In the longer term, chances are very good that buying traffic while using an ad affiliate will get you blocked from that affiliate program. Any program that doesn’t care about buying traffic likely only pays out pennies per thousand views. You won’t even earn back your $5.
That bit above about links is just scratching the surface. Backlinks from poor quality sites pass what is essentially negative influence towards your site. If a spam site links to you, it can hurt your page in the search rankings. If hundreds of spam sites link to you, it can be even more harmful.
Of course, Fiverr linkers always claim their links won’t punish your site and that they’re sufficiently obfuscated that they aren’t detectable. This is patently false in every occasion. Sure, you may see a temporary boost for a few days or weeks, before Google analyzes your link profile and assesses a penalty. Once that penalty hits, however, your traffic drops and you need to waste days or weeks recovering.
Many popular sites have detrimental techniques like what’s used on Fiverr in the past on record. Often this is because, at the time, those techniques weren’t punished or penalized. The landscape changes from year to year; using the past performance of successful sites to guide your own site is a recipe for disaster. You need to adapt to the current trends, not use old information and hope it’s still valid.
Trust is hard to earn. Trust from Google is the only way to protect yourself from spam attacks. If you compromise your trust early on, you’re just digging a hole that will take months or years to climb out.
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