A quick Google search of two simple words, “buy clicks” is all the evidence you need: click-
farming is a major problem. Indeed, according to a 2014 investigation launched by AP, click-
farming was and remains a pandemic across all major digital channels. But what could drive a
business to turn to black-market internet influence purchases? What could motivate them to
seek services that exploit the internet and essentially dupe online users?
At least 31% of customers check companies’ website ratings and reviews, including likes and
social media followers, before deciding to engage with the business or make a purchase,
enervating companies who fear that their organic reach is not strong enough to promote
conversions or outsell the competition.
Let’s dive in and learn the ins and outs of the click-farming field.
What Are Click Farms or Click Farming?
A click farm is the digital equivalent of a dairy farm. Only, instead of rows of cattle attached to
milk expressing machines, workers, usually in developing countries, are paid a pittance to sit at
desks, clicking on PPC (pay-per- click) ads, liking or following websites, social media posts and
accounts or creating fake profiles to benefit the commissioning company or individual.
Thus, while click-farming does increase a company or influencer’s visibility, it also tends to
mislead customers who are unlikely to engage with a less “liked” or “followed” establishment.
Who commissions a click farm’s services?
The logic is simple: having lots of followers increases the flow of new followers to a company or
influencer’s website or social media page – so long as they convert. A growth in click-rates, likes
or followers directly correlates with augmented digital influence – and subsequent immediate or
future endorsements or transactions.
As such, click farms are employed by companies and influencers who wish to boost their digital
influence. Though never officially confirmed, large international corporations such as Louis
Vuitton and Coca-Cola, politicians including Mitt Romney and celebrities like socialite Paris
Hilton and rap star 50 Cent have all been accused of hiring click farms to “buy” their
considerable digital social media followings.
Those seeking to continuously boost their reach can “buy” clicks or likes from click farms,
increasing their chances of appearing in Google searches or Facebook newsfeeds and boosting
the visibility of products available for purchase. If however, the competition maliciously employs
a click farm to repeatedly click on a company’s landing page without the clicks leading to even a
single transaction, the company’s PPC ad budget will rapidly deplete and the affected
business falls from the ranks of search engine results – making advertising both expensive and
Click farms are harming the field of digital advertising.
Click-farming undermines the chief principle behind digital advertising. Namely, that marketers
can use the internet – including company websites, search engines and social media – to reach
and motivate real people, generating leads and promoting conversions that will ultimately
increase their profit margins.
Regardless of the motivations behind the commission, those who hire click farms do so to drum
up initial influence, but since the influence is fake and inorganic, the actions taken by click farms
cannot and do not foster long-term or future engagement. While utilizing a click farm’s services
may at first boost clicks, engagement and ultimately visibility decrease, as the digital
relationships are not continuously nurtured. Click-farmed digital interactions do not convert.
They do, however, decrease a company or influencer’s organic reach with time.
Conversely, a decrease in visibility increases paid advertising fees. This is true even for those
who do not “buy” the influence themselves, but have unfortunately fallen prey to click farmers
working for the competition, costing the business or influencer advertising money, without
participating in further relationship-fostering activities (continued engagement and conversion).
What can YOU do to prevent click-farming harm?
Since the activities of click farmers mimic those of actual website and social media network
visitors, it can be extremely difficult to weed the real followers from the fake.
On a personal level, you – the company marketer, social media or celebrity personality – should
regularly monitor your digital channels for new followers and engagement, removing or blocking
those likely to be false accounts. Keep in mind that real leads will boost your visibility by
repeatedly interacting with your social media profile or by making purchases on your website.
Fake leads may like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter, but won’t continue to engage
and will not convert.
You may also opt to commission the services of a click fraud specialist – a company that uses
technology to filter traffic and ward off hackers, bots and click farms from clicking on your ads
and depleting your PPC budget. The click fraud specialist attacks competitor click fraud,
outsmarting even those fraudsters who managed to sneak past existing Google or Bing anti-
click fraud technologies and preventing the competition from blocking your businesses from
appearing in Google’s search results.
Click farms may seem like the answer for some companies or influencers seeking to expand
their digital reach, but they ultimately cause more harm than good. Monitoring your own digital
channels for fake initial engagement, or employing a click fraud specialist to complement the
anti-click fraud efforts already implemented by search engine filters can make a significant
difference in your online visibility and subsequent ROI.