Buying +1s to be popular could have opposite effect

The only thing worse than selling clicks on +1 buttons is buying them.

As a writer, it's always nice to hear from someone who's enjoyed reading something you wrote. And with the arrival of social networking tools - such as the "share" buttons that appear on most blog posts today - readers no longer have to find the right words to say "Nice job." The fact that you "liked" it or, better yet, shared it with your own online networks, speaks volumes.

That's why I was kind of disheartened to see that the SEO Shops have put Google's "+1" clicks on the open market. Yup, for as little as $9.99, someone can pay a company to click that little "+1" button on the page up to 50 times. For $29.99, you can get 250 +1 clicks. And for $169.99, you can 2,000.

Like it or not, this is a business venture and if people are willing to pay, companies like Plussem are there to offer it. How do they do it? Well, blatantly, for one. On its site,, which describes itself as a social media shop, lists the five ways its practices stay off the radar:

  • The +1s come from holders of phone verified Google accounts.
  • They all come from real people - no bots.
  • The clicks are manually done by clicking the +1 button on the site.
  • It's untraceable because the clicks come from different IP addresses.
  • The clicks are given over a couple of days "so it looks natural."

Sure, it's spammy. But for the site owners who pay for these services, isn't it also deceptive? Misleading, at the very least,

Here's an idea. Write some content that's worthy of a Like or a +1 and maybe your own readers will throw a click your way. No, you may not get 50 or 250 or 2,000 clicks on one post - which means it will take a lot longer to work your way up to those numbers. But the ones you do receive will mean so much more.

I understand that, to be competitive on the Web, you have to stand out and rise above the noise. Crowds love to form around the popular people and a good number of social media thumbs-ups on your content helps you rise. But dropping $10 for some unearned +1 clicks just so you can look popular is kind of like slipping the cool guys at school some cash so that they'll say hi to you in front of your friends.

Maybe not sad. More like pathetic.