SEO: My experience with Search Engine Spam

As I wrote in another article, Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Spamming are two different things, yet technologically very close.

I had my own brush with Search Engine spammers on two different occasions.

"Steve" from 123 Greetings

The first was when I got an email from "Steve" who runs 123greetings.com. The email was laced with Islamic and Arabic terminology, such as starting with:

As-Salamu `Alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh

Bismillah al-Rahman al-Rahim

And ending with:

Allah Hafiz!!

"Steve" wanted me to link to his site, on the occasion of an upcoming Muslim holiday (Eid Al Adha), and he links to mine, so visitors to my site would be able to send Eid greetings, and visitors to his can visit mine as a link. This is known as a reciprocal link in the webmaster world, and can increase page ranking in search engines.

Upon visiting his web site, I was astonished how many ads are on each web page. Not only did one of the ads had a girl on her knees in a skimpy bikini, but the ads were all for spyware screen savers, smileys, and the like.

I did some investigation on the IP address he sent the email from, and it mapped to an ISP in India, called VSNL. Moreover, the domain name was registered to Sharad Kajaria, a known spammer.

"Gerry Martin" from 123 Greetings 

On a later occasion, I got an email from "Gerry Martin". This time it was laced with Islamic terminology, but asking for addition in the Arabization section for the upcoming Ramadan month.

"Thomas" from Bizbrim

The other instance was from a web site called Bizbrim, and "Thomas" was interested in quality outsourcing articles.

The web site is a "build for Adsense site" targeting a wide range of topics (travel, mortgage, hotels, outsourcing, education, insurance, affiliates, ...etc.). There is very little real content there and of course Google ads all over.

The domain is registered to a person called Puniya Kumar, from Chennai, India, and also using the ISP VSNL.

I have to guess that because of the cost of living is much lower in India, then ad revenue goes a long way there. If I make 50$ or 100$ a month on ads, that will not even pay for gas for the car. In India, this could be a significant income boost.

I desest the lying though, the pretense, and abusing the system.

"Stephen Hoods" of online-global-directory.com

A third case was when I received an email from someone called "Stephen Hoods". He wanted me to link to a Forex site that has an .au top level domain. He also runs online-global-directory.com, and offered to add my site to it in return for the link.

Again the IP address: 61.12.43.9 tracks back to India.  The web site is registered to one Rajiv Chugh, also in New Delhi, India.

While the site is not an ad farm like the two above, I find it fascinating and intriguing that Indians continue to impersonate western sounding names on the internet!

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Comments

Indians with western names

It is not an unusual phenomenon to for Indians to adopt western names. The wave of outsourcing from the west has made it an imperative! If not, how can Subharjitkalingasingha answer the hotline for Citibank?

Response from 123Greetings.com

Hi. My name is Jeanne Heydecker and I am the Marketing Group Leader for 123Greetings. I would like to respond to your concerns regarding us. We are a worldwide internet company that provides over 20,000 free ecards for 3,000 holidays around the world. We employ people from many cultures to ensure that the sentiments on our cards are appropriate for the holiday. Just like Hallmark, we have a development office in India. Our headquarters are in New York.

Because all of our 20,000 cards are free, our business model requires that we generate revenue through the use of pop-up and banner advertising. Eventually our pop-up ads will go the way of other technologies that are no longer useful, but at this time they are the only way we can employ the people to make the cards in order to give them away free. Otherwise, we would have to charge for our cards. We don't want to do that.

Where have you heard that Mr. Kajaria was a spammer? :-) I can assure you that we are not spammers. When you send a card from 123greetings.com, before sending, you have the option of not subscribing to email offers. If you did not opt out, you will receive the 123Greetings newsletter, special offers and notifications on any new features of the web site. We comply with all guidelines laid down in the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

The information you entered resides with 123Greetings.com and is not disclosed to third parties. Your email address is not shared or sold to sponsors without your consent. You can unsubscribe yourself by entering your email address at http://www.123greetings.com/offers/.

If you have any other concerns regarding our web site, please feel free to email me. I hope you will publish this as it really wouldn't be fair to publish only one side of the story... Thanks, and have a great day.

Great Advice

Assalamu Alaikum.

I am a webmaster and I am so glad to read your warnings. I will now be inclined to block such e-mails and then delete them.
Jazak Allah Khair.