Thousands of robotic clicks in Serps on sites of your choice, at a low price and without the search engine suspecting anything? And the key to better placement? The promise of a French start-up is divided.
Rankbox is a small box that includes a Raspberry Pi 4. What does it promise? Help SEOs optimize their CTR (for ‘Click-through Rate’ or ‘Click-through Rate’) and ultimately improve their rankings. How? “All boxes placed with community members will be permanently queried on Google on behalf of those same members,” explains Eddy Beghennou, CEO of Werankbox, a French company founded in March 2020 that had 80 beta users. In late September, mostly in France.
In addition to clicking on the page requested in the SERP, the robot can be configured to follow a precise path on the pages, to keep a minimum of time on each page, etc.… “The idea is to have the behavior aspect closest to that man,” . Price of beta saw solutions: 110 euros at the beginning, then purchase a loan every month for a minimum of 15 euros. The loan corresponds to minutes, 15 euros corresponds to 500 minutes. Werankbox offers 2,500 minutes per month to testers, which would generate 80 visits per day.
To achieve its goal, the start-up combines machine learning and image recognition through libraries such as OpenCV. The difference from other robots is that Werankbox relies on a network of residential IP addresses to which Rankboxes are connected: “We are completely legitimate in the eyes of Google, because visits come from real IP addresses, with real history,” assures the CEO. Werankbox, who is struggling to convince the SEO community.
A practical black hat?
Laurent Tulpan, project manager at Coeurduweb.com and Werankbox beta tester, sees this as a democratized black hat practice: “As long as it only affects a minority of sites and doesn’t bypass the engine too much, Google will let it go. about small locations, it doesn’t have big consequences. ” Olivier Andrieu, founder of Abondance, laments this practice: “This type of tool is finally and unfortunately in line with what we are increasingly seeing in the SEO community, where cheating is institutionalized instead of working on website quality, content, technical aspects, etc. I can only regret and hope that this practice will be discovered by Google and severely punished in the long run. “
If the technique is really a black hat, as suggested by this exchange on the Growthhacking France forum, Emmanuel De Vauxmoret, founder of the SEO agency Uplix and also a beta tester of the Werankbox shade: When you buy a link, you also make a black hat. We try to manipulate Google in all ways, even if there are milder ways than others. “
CTR, ranking factor or not?
Another issue: efficiency. The workhorse of Werankbox is CTR optimization. Except this indicator shares SEOs. Some see it as a ranking factor as powerful as the time spent on the page, or even more, others that its impact is negligible. To substantiate its statements, Werankbox relies on three studies, including one conducted by Rand Fishkin, creator of Sparktoro and SEO tool Moz, who, despite some results going in this direction, warns: “The results are not enough evidence …
For his part, Olivier Andrieu assures him: “I’ve never seen a case where CTR influenced page referencing.” On the other hand, “on Google Maps, this can be interesting, because everything is related to the local and the map changes according to the degree of interest of Internet users,” estimates SEO consultant Fabien Raquidel. Laurent Tulpan, meanwhile, believes this project can only work on small queries: “I am aware that it can only work with low-competition keywords. CTR manipulation has a much smaller impact on ranking than other factors, but with identical KPIs it can yield encouraging niche locations. “
Emmanuel de Vauxmoret, he believes Werankbox has a future: “I got access two weeks ago, I started five projects using Weranbox, and five are going up to Serps. Not to say it works, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t work either, too soon is to say.
To answer the question “Is CTR a ranking factor?”, Raphaël Doucet, an SEO consultant, has just launched an experiment that you can join on Twitter.
I told you about it a few days ago, I will (with your help) conduct a real test of the impact of CTR on ranking.
To participate, all you need is your email at https://t.co/Gs4pQZx0Bt
– Raphael Doucet (@RaphSEO) October 7, 2021
And security in all this?
Another aspect that calls into question the Werankbox project: device security. According to founder Eddy Beghennou, the developed OS is not hacked: “The most risky point is ourselves. Everything is based on trust,” he explains. Indeed, the entire Werankbox network is managed centrally and if the update includes malware, for example, all Rankboxes will be affected. This is a topic that reacted especially on Twitter.
The security level is a little sensitive, isn’t it? If your IP is used for something else or you visit not very legal sites for example … No?
– Vincent Beziade (@ vince16) September 11, 2021
According to Laurent Tulpan, “a box can review a list of all the equipment in my house, it can carry out an attack if it is hacked. Even if we can trust the founder, it is not impossible for something to happen.” To win the trust of current and future customers, Eddy Beghennou is ready to play the new card: “The only solution for people to trust us is to call for an audit from a reliable third party, even if it’s more of a marketing argument in the end.” it’s up to everyone to form their own opinion … and weigh the risks.