We are starting to see more “guaranteed traffic” scams. Here is what you need to know about these scams so that you do not waste your money on useless services for fake traffic.
Guaranteed traffic offerings typically offer to send tens of thousands of visitors to your web site for a fee. The fees are frequently very reasonable and the offering sounds like a good deal.
I have been watching the guaranteed traffic scams ever since I first wrote about it in 2005. Let me make one thing clear about this type of “sucker deal”: I have never seen a legitimate guaranteed traffic offering.
First of all, guaranteed traffic has nothing to do with SEO, although it is typically sold as an SEO service. It has nothing to do with search engines or web site optimization. SEO is not about driving more traffic to a web site; it is about driving targeted traffic that is already searching for the goods and services that you offer.
How Guaranteed Traffic Scams Work
Traffic is usually measured in terms of web site visitors. The number of visitors to a site is easy to track using server log statistics (AwStats or Webalizer), Google Analytics or any number of free services that track web site visitor information. These services track the pages being requested, the IP address of each visitor, and other data.
The Automated Server Requests Scam. The very first scam of this nature that I found goes back to 2005 when a guy called me to see if I could determine why the 10,000 new visitors that he had purchased each month for the past five months were not resulting in any new business. A check of his server logs revealed that he was indeed logging 10,000 new visits each month — but they were all coming from a single IP address that I traced back to a server in Tokyo that did not have any domain names assigned to it. It other words, it was simply a script running on a web server that was requesting pages from his web site. There were no actual visitors.
The Pop-Under Scam. The scam became more sophisticated when the scammers started using pop-unders, which are those annoying ads that sometimes display when you shut down a browser. The pop-under windows were set up to display random pages from a web site in a browser pop-under window. The pop-unders were commonly generated by real visitors to porn sites. Because porn sites attract a large number of visitors from around the world, each server request logged a different user’s IP address. Keep in mind that none of these visitors actually searched for your site or intentionally visited the site. A random page from the site simply displayed in a browser pop-under window, and the window contained a web page from the site. When the user closed his browser window, he found another window with a page from the targeted web site. This methodology behind this scam was almost impossible to determine from server log analysis, because each request came from the browser of an actual visitor to the porn sites.
The HTML iFrame Scam. The pop-under window scam became less effective as pop-up and pop-under blockers became popular. The scam then moved to the use of HTML iframes. An iframe is a method similar to the old, obsolete frames where separate scrollable regions of a web page were created. The newer iframe method allows the display of another web page within a web page. The iframe is actually displaying a page from another web site. This method does not use a pop-up or pop-under. It simply sets up a miniscule area, typically in the footer of a web page, that requests and displays the page from the site that is being scammed with a guaranteed traffic offer. The window is so small that it is not noticeable. Although no visitor sees your web pages, every time the iframe loads another page a visit is recorded on your web server — and once again from a wide range of IP addresses, which makes it appear that the site is receiving lots of traffic.
A variation of the HTML iframe scam is used to increase the number of “Views” to a YouTube video. The number of times a video is viewed is one of the factors that determines the rankings for a You Tube video, both within YouTube and in Google search results. This would be considered an optimization method for improving You Tube rankings, but is is clearly a black hat SEO technique.
Be aware of these issues so that you do not fall for the guaranteed traffic scams. Remember that increased traffic is meaningless, unless it consists of “real visitors” that are already searching for what you offer.