The following excerpt is from a presentation on analytics hosted by GRAPE (Grand Rapids Area Professionals for Excellence). Max, Friar, Paul Kortman, and Joel Leo discuss how to game the system. This is the last part of a 14-part series on analytics from the presentation. Pictured above (left to right): Max Friar, Corporate Conversions LLC; Joel Leo, freelance; and Paul Kortman, Connex Social LLC. The moderator is John M Potter.
Max Friar: My question is, if I can go on fiverr.com to buy a 1000 contacts for 5 bucks, how is that going to affect the algorithm?. I’m just interested in the ability to fake almost every metric that’s been used historically by Google or Facebook to get yourself to the top. What are your thoughts on that?
Paul Kortman: It’s a continual game.
Joel Leo: Every now and then Google updates outlines what area that algorithm affects , what they were trying to accomplish, the idea being that they’re trying to be more transparent without actually telling you what they’re doing. They’ll say, you made an adjustment to try to take care of these types of sites around these types of searches. With that transparency comes some insight into the majority of changes are to fix elements at which the system is being gamed. So, Facebook in case of Paul uses the 4000 followers he has, if they only have 10 followers each, Twitter’s algorithm is going to weed that out. Basically, Facebook is going to look at similar connections. If just some random person Likes a brand on Facebook and doesn’t have any connections to people who also Like that brand, they’re an island. And these people are smart. They’ve built these systems = they’ll build algorithms that will able to look at these relational connections and say, this one seems forced so let’s devalue it. It’s going to happen in any system. You can’t always fix it but there’s ways to prevent it.
Paul Kortman: Do you remember viruses? Antivirus and viruses? It’s a game. Who’s in front? There is zero days vulnerabilities when viruses are released. Antivirus tries to build remedies for that as quickly as possible. And it goes back and forth. That game will never stop. It just won’t. So, thats similar to any of the algorithms that we have, they’re still machine-based. And that somebody is going to try to game it.
Audience Member: I got two questions. One is, you make me then question everything I hear coming through different sources of media and what they’re telling is the results. Can you believe that stuff?
Joel Leo: No, I never trust anything. It depends on the system and how the system is set up. There’s been a few funny situations. (Asks Paul) Did you tell them (inaudible).
So there’s this contest where it was Taylor Swift, the music artist, was going to give a concert to a multitude of schools I think. And so it was put out there for people to vote for the school to get it. So the whole idea was to make a system so that the schools could rally their communities and build interest in votes out there. There’s this one website that will remain nameless, they got word of it and they rallied all the users of this website to this form and basically one of the schools that they put into the system was a school for the deaf. And they ended up basically skewing the vote to send her to a school for the deaf. And they ended up basically skewing the vote to send her to a school for the deaf. Now, the problem wasn’t in their intent, the problem was in their system. And that they didn’t prepare for catastrophe. They shouldn’t have allowed it to be open to any school that was submitted. It shouldn’t have been a closed loop in some way. So there’s ways in which your system has to be secure and you have to prepare for any
Audience Member: What about hosting sites that offer SEO? are those effective? I use HostGator and they send an email once a week and you resubmit…
Joel Leo: Resubmit what?
Audience Member: Well, it’s supposed to go to 10 or 12 major sites.
Joel Leo: You don’t need to resubmit. If anything says “Resubmit” you don’t have to do any of that. Their systems are built to discover. So if you have to resubmit, then there is a bigger problem.
Paul Kortman: The best and quickest way to get your site indexed is a lot of people tweet (their link in order) to be found right away. (I’ve) worked on some projects where if you want to be found in 15 seconds, the way to do that is to get it out there on Twitter.
Joel Leo: or to sources that get constantly read such as some PR site.
Paul Kortman: or certain PR sites or industry authority that gets reindexed.