Like Padding & Traffic Hacks. Techniques & Strategies.

Here I discuss four techniques for getting traffic on your blog that are guaranteed to work each time, regardless of what service you're targeting, or regardless of how Google decides to rank the page.

For a startup, or even an established company (like a stayup) ― they can throw money at the problem, and bleed Fiverr, TribePro, etc for all they're worth. This works, and those turk services do offer a good (albeit temporary) nod from social media to certain articles. In other words: real people do see these retweets and shares, and organic shares shoot up as a result.

Buzzfeed, Mashable, and other behemoth blogs are known for a technique called like-padding which means artificially inflating likes, retweets, shares, and other metrics for the implicit reason of gaining more popularity.

Some might say this is a mere numbers game and the practice of padding has no value, but as Lauren Hockenson put it:

Throw in more legitimate marketing practices, such as paying for a promoted hashtag or tweet or building a “core retweet” base of friends and family, and lots of gray areas begin to come into view.

In effect she's saying that padding needs to be done right, and in the right context. Who would you rather see do padding? An Acai Berry site, or the car repair shop down the road? Most people would choose the latter, because they want to see that company thrive in this age of social media.

Some Mashable articles, for example, are really well researched, and are well sourced too. If anything, they deserve the artificial 'network effect' that they generate. I am using Mashable as an example. They are one of many blogs, and SMEs who use padding all the time.

Rather than do a complex exposé of how these blogs artificially inflate their social shares, and therefore their popularity; I am going to share a few techniques that work for my own one-man show. Let me be clear, I don't work for a big marketing agency, or have money to throw at social media. I am a tech consultant who likes to get traffic for my own stuff, and promote the work of others; all using methods which require nothing but time as the investment.

Note: The methods used below to get traffic are not dependent on specific networks like Twitter, or Reddit. As such they can adapt to new networks, and can survive the demise of existing networks. The methods below do not concern themselves with like-padding, however there is the expectation that you use the networks in a way they weren't designed for. You could call them a 'hack'; but I maintain they are not so temporary as to be a kludge that only work some of the time.

Upvoting rigs

We all know sites like Reddit have since been gamed; with highly organized sockpuppet rings, often working in teams to get attention to certain links. Similar to an 'underworld'; we all know these elaborate rigs exist, but the community rarely discusses them. There are a few threads in Reddit which discuss the practice of upvote-gaming, but very little is actually given away in terms of how they're run, the mechanics behind the operation, and all the many many people who engage in such activities on a daily basis, building their karma up, and 'growing' their army of upvote bots gradually over time. Remember I said how these techniques can survive the network they're employed on? This very practice of upvote rigs can be applied to any system that is built on a meritocracy, and has a karma system.

Bots. So many bots.

I always loved the concept of bots on Twitter. Bear in mind, bots are not exclusive to Twitter. They started off in IRC, where all kinds of lulz were to be had by impersonating people, flooding, and all the usual silly stuff you still see on IRC; even today. The ultimate goal of a person who writes a social media bot is to make the account(s) seem as human as possible. This usually means having an actual human account on the network so you can gauge what is 'normal' behaviour, and what behaviours will not get you banned. Then, after distilling the correct mode of behaviour, you implement that behaviour at scale across the network, and you have a veritable 'bot army' to play with.

The more nefarious bot-herders use these armies to troll - but the more benevolent bot-herders will use the armies for good, and 'fight the good fight' - bringing traffic to the sites that matter, and bringing attention to the causes that matter.

Actual good content

I discussed before whether as writers / bloggers, we could have "(good) content as a service" ― basically a foolproof way of generating good content, without substantial mental energy being spent, and without the content getting sloppier over time.

It is known, that Google favors good quality articles that are written with honesty and have something new to say, rather than articles which are essentially filler text used to show you an overlay, or a carefully crafted AD.

Breaking the Duplicate Content Rule

There is a rule of thumb in SEO which advises against duplicate content. The main reason is that search engines don't know which article to index, and it causes Google to divide by zero, and collapse on itself. Even high-quality articles can be demoted and branded as spam if they show up in multiple locations on the web all at once.

It doesn't have to be this black and white though. This rule can be bent if you're careful, and you don't abuse Google's lenience. The idea is to have an authoritative 'egg basket' for the blog that you maintain.

The post should slowly trickle into other sites, over time. Be careful not to put an article in a low ranked site, and then have it arrive on your own blog weeks later. Keep all your prized articles in one place, for example, your own personal blog, and then trickle it down to the silos.

This technique can survive algorithm changes, because if google decides to permaban good quality content entirely, they've essentially censored the internet, and are involved in a meritocracy ― Which they shouldn't be, as they're a search engine. Not an upvote site like Hackernews / Reddit.

Move to social media entirely

Also - depending on your reach within social media networks (Twitter, Gplus, etc); you can move all your content to those networks like Robert Scoble did. His blog is defunct now, and all his content has migrated to social media.

It is not especially required that we write to please Google. All writing should be done without a bias towards search engine crawlers. "Write like Google won't index this" is a good rule of thumb, too.