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Beware of thinly veiled link requests | JLH Design
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  • Beware of thinly veiled link requests

17th February 2009

Beware of thinly veiled link requests

posted in Webmastering |

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If you own a website you no doubt receive hundreds of link request emails ranging from honest people to three-way-exchanges, and even to the following deceptive scams:

I received the following email:

Hello,

Recently I visited your website http://www.jlh-design.com ; while visiting your site I noticed that you link to http://andybeard.eu at this address: http://www.jlh-design.com/2007/08/warnings-google-needs-to-incorporate/. As we are closely related to them, I would love to exchange links with your website, currently there are about 5,000 - 7,000 people per day that goto my site and search for information, Therefore I would to link to an excellent site like yours.

I have taken the liberty of adding your site to my home page: http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com to determine if it is of any benefit to you, if you have a stats program you can check it and let me know. By looking at my stats, it looks like today I have sent you 38 visitors but it may change by the time you receive this email.

Some website owners do not like when other sites link to them so I thought I might ask first. I think the information on your website could be useful to my visitors; and maybe you could receive some extra relevant traffic if you want. Please get back to me when you have a chance to let me know if its ok to link to your website like this.

Have a good week,

Melissa Thompson
——————————————————————————–

email: melissa.thompson@torontorealestatedirect.com
website: http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com
Ref: KNdNB

This email was sent to xxxxx, by melissa.thompson@torontorealestatedirect.com

| 108 Chestnut Street | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

Melissa seems like a nice enough person, wanting my permission to link to me an all….but let’s take a look at her offer a little further.

The first link in the email was actually to http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com/?pg=KNdNB

Note the parameter tagged onto the end.

Visiting that link, which wasn’t visible as the linked text in the email, will send your browser on the following little wild goose chase:

GET /?pg=KNdNB HTTP/1.1
Host: www.torontorealestatedirect.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.9.0.6) Gecko/2009011913 Firefox/3.0.6
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 300
Connection: keep-alive
Cookie: estate=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jlh-design.com

HTTP/1.x 302 Found
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 23:55:51 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2.3 (CentOS)
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.1.6
X-Pingback: http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com/toronto/xmlrpc.php
Set-Cookie: estate=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jlh-design.com; expires=Thu, 31-Dec-2015 07:00:00 GMT
Location: http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com
Content-Length: 0
Connection: close
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8
———————————————————-
http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com/

GET / HTTP/1.1
Host: www.torontorealestatedirect.com
User-Agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.0; en-US; rv:1.9.0.6) Gecko/2009011913 Firefox/3.0.6
Accept: text/html,application/xhtml+xml,application/xml;q=0.9,*/*;q=0.8
Accept-Language: en-us,en;q=0.5
Accept-Encoding: gzip,deflate
Accept-Charset: ISO-8859-1,utf-8;q=0.7,*;q=0.7
Keep-Alive: 300
Connection: keep-alive
Cookie: estate=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jlh-design.com

HTTP/1.x 200 OK
Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2009 23:55:52 GMT
Server: Apache/2.2.3 (CentOS)
X-Powered-By: PHP/5.1.6
X-Pingback: http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com/toronto/xmlrpc.php
Set-Cookie: estate=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.jlh-design.com; expires=Thu, 31-Dec-2015 07:00:00 GMT
Connection: close
Transfer-Encoding: chunked
Content-Type: text/html; charset=UTF-8

What the cookie “estate” does until 31-Dec-2015 is inject my domain into the code:

<h2>Recommended Sites</h2>
<ul>
	<li><a title="Jlh-design" href="http://www.jlh-design.com">Jlh-design</a></li>
	<li><a title="Toronto Real Estate Board" href="http://www.torontorealestateboard.com/">Toronto Real Estate Board</a></li>
	<li><a title="Toronto Condos" href="http://www.toronto-condominium-homes.com/">Toronto Condos</a></li>
	<li><a title="Realtor" href="http://www.realtor.com/toronto/">Realtor</a></li>
</ul>

So whenever I’d visit the domain I’d see my fine link sitting there, thinking I got myself a sweet deal. This little spamming technique is just too crooked for me to let go and I figured I warn any webmaster who happens across this and a link request from Melissa Thompson of torontorealestatedirect.com. I wonder how many of the 32,000 links are real?

This entry was posted on Tuesday, February 17th, 2009 at 6:42 pm and is filed under Webmastering. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. All comments are subject to my NoFollow policy. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

There are currently 12 responses to “Beware of thinly veiled link requests”

Why not let me know what you think by adding your own comment! All the cool kids are doing it.

  1. 1 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 18th, 2009, Michael VanDeMar said:

    Site explorer is a little deceptive on the number of links, since it shows total links and doesn’t consolidate the domains in the same way that regular search does. If you do the search on plain Yahoo! with a tweak, you see that they actually have links from less than 270 different domains:

    http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=linkdomain%3Awww.torontorealestatedirect.com+-site%3Awww.torontorealestatedirect.com&fr=siteexplorer&xargs=0&pstart=1&b=201&xa=y8PsG5LzSzwu4_op6b2Nww–,1235049725

    However, it does seem to be working for them:

    http://www.google.com/search?num=10&hl=en&safe=off&q=Toronto+Real+Estate&btnG=Search

    For now, anyways. I know of at least one Googler who read your post… they might not enjoy those rankings much longer.

    -Michael

  2. 2 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 18th, 2009, paul savage said:

    Wow , crazy stuff. My worst link request was when someone told me the had put a link to one of my domains, when in fact I already owned and was aware of the linking domain. They wanted to do a 3 way link exchange, with an existing link (that I had control over).

    Paul

  3. 3 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 19th, 2009, Richard Hearne said:

    At least you got your link.

    Her script wasn’t working the day I got it, and so I didn’t even get my personal link.
    I emailed her to tell her her script was busted, but she never responded LOL

    @Michael - your yahoo query shows 201 - 210 of 23,100 for me. What’s the tweak you’re using to see 270 domains?

    Rgds
    Richard

  4. 4 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 19th, 2009, Michael VanDeMar said:

    @Richard - it’s not a hack… I have my serps set to display 100 results at a time, and Yahoo! simply groups results from the same domain together unless you click on the “repeat the search with the omitted results included” link at the end. If your display is set to 10 per page, then you would see it run out of results on page 28:

    http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=linkdomain%3Awww.torontorealestatedirect.com+-site%3Awww.torontorealestatedirect.com&n=10&fr=siteexplorer&xargs=0&pstart=1&b=271&xa=wBgkmjo1zVVaH667naaS_w–,1235164325

    Or try this link to see what I mean when you view them 100 per page:

    http://search.yahoo.com/search?p=linkdomain%3Awww.torontorealestatedirect.com+-site%3Awww.torontorealestatedirect.com&fr=siteexplorer&xargs=0&pstart=1&b=201&n=100

  5. 5 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 19th, 2009, Richard Hearne said:

    Cheers - seeing it now.

  6. 6 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 19th, 2009, John Honeck said:

    It’s good to see Yahoo! getting mention and stylizing…I completely forgot that I set that up.

    http://www.jlh-design.com/2008/08/giving-yahoo-some-love/

    To keep from Yahoo! hooking you up with the site explorer so you can see those links without the automagic filter you can also add some [-nonsense_characters] to it…

    http://search.yahoo.com/search;_ylt=A0oGkyOuzp1Jfw0BoNRXNyoA?p=-asdfasd292sdf+link%3Ahttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.torontorealestatedirect.com%2F&y=Search&fr=sfp

  7. 7 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 26th, 2009, Karl Foxley said:

    This has left me wondering how many link requests are genuine… I’ve had a few people say, ‘visit my site and you’ll see I’m already linking to you’… good job I haven’t linked to anyone in this way.

    Thanks for posting. At least I now what I’m looking for now! :)

  8. 8 MyAvatars 0.2 On February 26th, 2009, Brandon Hansen said:

    That is a completely messed up policy. Fortunately it looks like not many people actually use the site, since there are not any comments posted on any of their blog posts.

    What exactly made you look at the headers to figure out what was going on? Seems like you must have seen this before or something. Great catch though.

  9. 9 MyAvatars 0.2 On March 12th, 2009, Scott Patterson said:

    Thanks for this, I kept getting her emails on several of my websites, and I knew that something was not kosher as there would be no reason to link to my sites. But the emails kept coming and when I went to the site, low and behold several of my sites were still there. But I googled the website and saw on the cache that my links were not cached. Then i found your article.

    thanks, mystery solved.

    Scott

  10. 10 MyAvatars 0.2 On March 13th, 2009, Richard Hearne said:

    Check it out. She has a follow up script. Seems to take a few months to respond though. Check out the comment about her users emailing to say how good my site is. Sly cow:

    Hello,

    The page is a bit busy I just took a screen shot of it for you you can see it here : http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com/screenRnYrd.jpg

    Thanks for letting me add your site to my directory. Your site will be a great addition to the website and of great value to my users. Today I actually received an email from one of my users about your site, it was very positive which reinforces my initial thoughts about adding you.

    I was wondering if my site would be of value to your viewers and if so would you be able to add it to you site as well? If you have an available spot on your home page that would be really great but anywhere you think my site would fit in would be fine. I’ve put my site information below for you to look over.Let me know either way if you could.

    * Title: Toronto real estate
    * URL: http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com
    * Description: Find all the information you need about toronto real estate.

    Have a good week,

    Melissa Thompson
    email: melissa.thompson@torontorealestatedirect.com
    website: http://www.torontorealestatedirect.com

    This email was sent to xxxxxxxxxxxx, by melissa.thompson@torontorealestatedirect.com

    | 234, 5149 Country Hills Blvd N.W Suite # 306 | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

    On Thu, 01 Jan 2009 07:08:12 +0000, “Red Cardinal Ltd.” wrote:
    > Hi Melissa “By looking at my stats, it looks like today I have sent you visitors but it may change by the time you receive this email.” This must be something new - have you found a way to travel back in time and remove those visitors? Something seems to be wrong with your script also - the nice URL you sent me doesn’t have a link to my homepage? Let me know Rgds Richard

  11. 11 MyAvatars 0.2 On March 16th, 2009, Michael VanDeMar said:

    And a month later, her site is still ranking very, very well. Go figure.

  12. 12 MyAvatars 0.2 On April 16th, 2009, ManfredEye said:

    Thats odd. Looks like you and I are both listed there.

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