This is a public service announcement! I have been getting queries about our library’s website that I am kind of tired of… tactics used by SEO trolls to get links.

Usually you can smell a V1a9ra-style spam email from a mile away, and taken as an aggregate I realize that the techniques below do look pretty obviously spammy.

The problem is they are rather isolated. And we are too nice! Librarians approach online reference interactions trying to be helpful and positive, so it doesn’t always occur to us to be suspicious if it looks on the surface like someone is just trying to help us out by sharing information. Even if we don’t understand everyone’s motivations for contacting us, we try to take them at their word. But look a little further… at the about page and the domain and the sites they link to, Google the phrases they use, and their whole house of cards crumbles. Also, what is their motivation, why in the world did someone take the time to develop a Thomas Hardy information page? Just for fun, to be referency?

Who are these people? I am guessing they are low paid freelancers working for giant Internet marketing firms with connections to the for-profit distance learning industry. (If this is all tl;dr, just scroll down to the last link on this post.)

For me, this whole biz is creating some urgency for me to do something about our old-school link directory. Just be aware if you get a request like this: ignore it, mark as spam, and do not link to them.

A Personal Project

Hi President of the Library,

I maintain a [blank] education website called http://www.mastersof[blank].org. This site is a personal project of mine that will hopefully help inform students about schools across the country currently offering a masters degree program in [blank]. Would you consider adding my link to your resources page of http://www.library.org/weblinks/1718?

I would appreciate any effort to post a link to http://www.mastersof[blank].org on your site. Thanks so much for your time!

Lori Honeymuffin

Oh, really! Tell me more!

It’s Educational

Hi Webmaster,

I am the creator of [disease.biz] which is a site dedicated to raising awareness of this heartbreaking disease. I have seen first hand how difficult it can be to deal with [disease] and that is why I have made a site that lays out symptoms and treatment options. My hope is to help as many families and individuals as I can.

I wanted to reach out to you in hopes that you would find it beneficial to your site and post it on your page of [http://www.library.org/weblinks/1718] ? Maybe your visitors could find it to be useful and informative. I would appreciate any feedback and efforts to help me spread the word about my site. Thank you!

According to the domain registration, you are a law firm.

I Have a Great Link But I Won’t Tell You What It Is Right Now

I am a researcher for an online project that, in conjunction with the National Center for Education Statistics, created a National Education Index for students interested in pursuing an undergraduate and graduate programs across the US. I was wondering if you’re responsible for maintaining [link]. We’ve collected and compiled data from more than 19,000 education programs at 2,240 universities throughout the nation and packaged the data into an easy to use database that you will not only find insightful, but extremely useful.

I strongly believe this database, along with all of our other featured resources, would be a great complement to your website for students interested in furthering their education. So far, over 200 universities and governmental agencies have utilized this database project for their communities. I thought this might be of interest to you and I’m curious if you’d like to see it? Please let me know and I’ll send it over.

Thanks for your time. I hope to hear from you soon!

Broken links

Hi administrator,

I came across your website and wanted to notify you about a broken link on your page in case you weren’t aware of it. The link on library.org/weblinks/2129?page=1 which links to http://etrc.lib.umn.edu/womtrav.htm is no longer working.

I’ve included a link to a useful page on [the not quite exact same thing that we wrote for you!] that you could replace the broken link with if you’re interested in updating your website. Thanks for providing a great resource!

Link: http://www.online[blank]degree.com/resources/perfectly-crafted-copy-for-you/

Best,

Dorothy Fancypants

A few weeks later…

Hi development person,

I came across your website and wanted to notify you about a broken link on your page in case you weren’t aware of it. The link on http://www.library.org/weblinks/1132 which links to http://www.yale.edu/hardysoc/Welcome/welcomet.htm is no longer working. I’ve included a link to a useful page on Thomas Hardy that you could replace the broken link with if you’re interested in updating your website. Thanks for providing a great resource!

Link: http://www.online[blank]degree.com/resources/thomas-hardy/

Best,

Dorothy Fancypants

What is going on here? and More than you ever wanted to know about “Broken Link Building”. These “white hats” even have a bible.

Info-tastic!

I worked closely with the [legit organization] and [legit organization] to create this infographic about “Libraries are the coolest!” We are using this to drum up support for volunteers, donations and legislative actions.

Here is the infographic: http://www.[blank].org/support-your-local-library/

I thought your library would find it interesting and could help the library community. I’m happy to share the graphic. There are instructions at the top to add it to a page or feel free to share it with others.

This is the ONLY infographic I will ever share with you.

A request to guest

Hi permissions,

I created a Degree site called http://degrees.biz It serves as a great resource for new students looking to find all the info they need on getting an online Degree.

Would you be interested in accepting a guestpost from me on your page of [existing blog post] ? I will be happy to write an article about any topic that you would like. It will only be used on your website.

I would put my link at the bottom of the article so that regular readers of your site who enjoyed my article might follow the link back to my site and find it informative as well.

I would certainly appreciate any opportunity to write an article. Feel free to suggest an idea, or if you prefer I can just come up with one.

Carrie Robocopy

A Blog About School: Are for-profit online schools gaming Google (and me)?

Librarian.net: why I don’t accept guest posts from spammers, or link to them

Lost in translation

I’m willing to translate page located at [blank] to the Belorussian language (my mother tongue). What I’m asking for is your written permission, so you don’t mind after I’ll post the translation to my blog.

¿Que?

Such an honor

If you find that your library is in a list of “1,001 Best Library Restrooms! Please RT” or that you’ve been nominated for some unknown award, it is basically the modern equivalent of paying to be included in a fake honor society that preys on your ego and cashes in in terms of your repeatedly sharing links to their product on social networks. Congrats!

Your blog has earned a nomination for the Fabulous Awards!

Stop Linking to “Top 100 Blogs” Lists

UPDATE: 1/16/2013

Is this a joke? I hate you people so much.
Screen Shot 2013-01-16 at 5.12.10 PM

UPDATE: 3/1/2013

The online university of spam – Salon.com

UPDATE: 6/16/2014

Albert Blok has a totally real, totally profesh job as Clinical Research Coordinator at American Educational Research Association. Except the entire website he is linking you to is fake and he really just wants to sell Krill Oil supplements! Oh Al, baby.Screen Shot 2014-06-16 at 2.01.12 PM

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Here are some aliases they use:
roxannerockford17
dorothy.fuldheim
jennifer.jenkins121
hannahedwards888 AND edwards.hannah15
kasey.harris13
sarahwenger7
estelle.shumann3
nick.j.frasier
olivia.leonardi11
melissa.scott318
jennifer.jenkins99
evelyn.rogers121
camila.u.martinez80

all at gmail.com

September 10, 2012 12:03 pm

Just found this article searching for “hannahedwards888@gmail.com”, from wich i received an email similar to the examples above. Very informative, thanks ;)
The only fact i’m giving them is that the link they are referring to is in fact broken :D

Cheers, Stefano

September 17, 2012 4:37 am

I also googled “hannahedwards@gmail.com” and found this site. If you would like to report this, please fill out the following form: http://support.google.com/mail/bin/request.py?&contact_type=abuse. It will let gmail know that something strange is being done with their email addresses.

September 17, 2012 12:17 pm

Thank you for posting this information. I received a similar email from “hannahedwards888@gmail.com” twice regarding a broken link on my site. I didn’t think anything of it at first, but when I received the same email a second time, I was wondering why she was so invested in me using her suggested link and letting her know if I did.

November 7, 2012 4:15 pm

anyone from

PO Box 1531
Houston, TX 77219

and says “To be removed from my mailing list please click here: educationoptout . com”

is also a spammer

March 20, 2014 10:30 am


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