A fascinating article (with a not-entirely-surprising conclusion) from Forbes magazine describes how fake social media popularity, gained through buying followers, likes, or retweets is doomed to fail. Google has caught on, as it did with other Black Hat SEO techniques, and is doing more than just ignoring the results, it’s punishing offenders.

As with Panda, and Penguin before it, next Google update will put a lot of emphasis on determining genuine fans/followers via the types of activity those users exhibit. Twitter bots don’t engage in discussions, purchased Likes reveal profiles that don’t look like genuine humans taking an interest in something, and LinkedIn connections that don’t represent real people all exhibit obvious tells that Google can clearly see.

“Twitter’s Jim Prosser said it best about using Social Media Black Hat tactics: ‘There’s no upside. In the end, their accounts are suspended, they’re out the money and they lose the followers.” If Google finds that you’ve purchased a stadium of fake people in hopes to improve SEO traffic, it won’t just ignore you. It’ll shut you down, fine you, and remember what you did.If it doesn’t do it now, just wait till the next release.”