I read an interesting link request today that wasn’t all that it seemed.
The person introduced themselves as a school teacher and said her students have been referring to a certain page I maintain as resource.
After gushing about how great the page was, she then requested I add a link to the page in question to another resource as it would be a “great help to my visitors”.
The page she was praising really wasn’t geared in such a way to attract the interest of schoolkids and the page she was recommending I link to was a general info page on the topic on a commercial site advertising related services.
All this was a ruse. On digging around a bit, I found the first mention of the scam back in February. Some more searching around showed a few posts whoever the party is had made on other sites; all in a similar format. Unfortunately, some site owners have fallen for it.
I also found a request on a freelancer marketplace from last year to build the site for the “school” she claimed to be a teacher at for less than $100.
There is no school; it’s all just a fairly elaborate hoax. The “school” site just has a few pages with some fairly generic sort of text and no contact details.
To me, what the party/ies is/are doing is not only annoying and misleading, but also a crime.
It’s rather sad the lengths some folks will go to in order to build links and a little silly given the direction Google is heading in.
Keep a watch out for a similar scam hitting your inbox; no doubt copycats will spring up and soon these approaches will become commonplace.
The fact that such schemes exist should also make online businesses very, very wary of hiring link builders as something like this could backfire very badly.
Instead, site owners should invest their hard-earned cash in creating great content that observes basic SEO principles and engage in some basic social media participation to help spread the word. The links will come naturally over time – and those are the best kind.