How to avoid fake online sites while establishing a genuine online presence

Fake content is in the news these days, thanks to accusations by the Trump administration – which itself offered positions to Breitbart, an alt-right site accused of posting misogynistic, racist, and often false news.

Avoiding fake sites has been critical ever since commercial interest arrived on the web. It can appear in many technical aspects of a website.  Link building was meant to signal to search engines that a site with a large number of links represented a quality source of material that should rank highly in a query.

But now, thanks to social media and user’s overlook in reviewing details of the post they share, it is very easy to spread and repeat information that is not entirely true.

Businesses and marketers of all levels have to be accountable. Sharing links to nefarious sites damages trust and branding.  It can also lead to legal issue

Here are some ways to protect your sites from association with a fake or susceptible site.

  • Establish a social media manager who can review sites and manage a list of trusted sources – essential for linking to highly regarded sites.
  • Examine referral sources in analytics reports for returning traffic segments – see if the sources align to your site’s purpose. For example, if you have a site dedicated to auto parts, you should see traffic from other auto parts dealers or new /used car dealers with whom you are linked. Seeing a site based in a foreign country where you are not doing business is not alarming in and off itself, but it would raise an eyebrow.
  • If you are looking for online communities to join, research their activity. Are there images of offline activity with members? Are those images consistent See if the posts in the community are “natural” or repeated spam, aggregators or generic comments.
  • On referral sites that you are interested in linking to, review the posts created – are they thoughtful with points and counterpoints? Are there author biographies that detail other posts that they have written? In fact, is there even an About Us page at all?
  • Decide how to link offline events into your online presence. Doing so attracts traffic from real people, who you have most likely engaged with in a real affair.  Their engagement creates a real environment on your social media platform, which leads to engagement will help
  • Review Facebook pages for fake fans – ensuring quality fan engagement can protect your page from being seen as a scam and from losing reach in the Facebook algorithm. According to Social Media Examiner, Facebook is rewarding pages that contain higher engagement and quality content “with greater visibility in the news feed, while pages with limited fan engagement and poor content lose positioning in the news feed.”
  • Consider an advertising budget for social media accounts. Many of the platforms have changed their algorithms, which consequently impacts the organic reach of their posts –  there are reports of Facebook having limited organic reach, such as this 2016 Marketingland post in which publishers have experienced a sharp decline in reach.  Planning a few well placed ads for increasing engagement can help drive awareness for events.  The ads can be targeted for region, as well as for interest when social media ads are used.
  • Check your followers, with apps such as Fakers from Statuspeople. The site indicates what percentage of a Twitter feed contains the following statuses: False (meaning fake followers), Inactive (accounts that have not tweeted in awhile), and Good (meaning accounts with active commentary).

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