We all want inbound links to our websites, and many people have a links page, where you exchange links with other websites. I dont know about you, I have noticed more and more fraudsters taking a chance with 3 way link exchanges over the last few months. For those of you who manually manage your link exchanges you might find it hard to keep track of what sites you are linked on, and that is what these link pirates count on.
Link pirates are guys who try to trick you into linking to their website. The way it works, is that you will receive an email requesting a 3 way link exchange with one of your sites. 3 Way links are better than straight link exchanges, so many people jump at the chance of setting these up. The person emailing you will try to make the email look as legit as possible with a request for you to link to their site, and might even include the html for you, to make your life easier.
The scam comes when they link back to your site from another site (the third site in the 3 way link setup). This part is actually pretty clever, but just plain wrong. They will include the details of the page where they are linking back to your site, where you can check your link. The ingenious part, is that the site linking back to yours, has absolutely nothing to do with them! You assume that they have placed the link back to your site, when in reality, they are showing you a page where your link already exists. This is easy to pickup if you dont have many links, but when you have websites with hundreds of inbound links, and you are NOT using any link management software, its easy to forget a site that linked to you a year or more back.
Over the last few months I have even had a few cases where the link that was provided, showing how they have already linked back to me, was actually one of my own other sites!
The sad thing is that loads of people actually fall for it, and give these guys a link back to their website. This sort of underhanded link building is not cool, and really pisses me off.
I think what these pirates do, is visit your links page, and pick any one of the sites you are already linking to, OR, simply do a search on google for your domain name, and an unassuming site linking to yours. They then ask for a 3 way link exchange, and tell you they have already linked to you, and provide that link as proof.
What steps to take?
I have noticed that most of these guys use free email accounts, so immediately question requests from these guys.
Check how far down the list of links on the page your link is positioned. If your link is genuinely new, its more likely to be right at the top or bottom, not lost among loads of others on the page.
See if you can check when the page where you link has be ‘placed’ was last updated.
If all else fails, ask that the person changes the title of your link to something else, if they can do that, then you will link back. This is a sure fire way to check that the person really does have control of that links page.
On a final note, I have seen at least person using the same technique to build links, who actually has a real domain registered, so they dont use a free email address. The emails in question (I have received several dubious emails from them on different sites I manage) have come from a domain seohunts.com. I checked up on the domain and it is registered to an indian company. If you get any requests from people using the domain seohunts.com, BEWARE!!! Every email I have had from them, has been a pirate one. They have a lame ass website which is obviously designed just to give them more credibility if and when you check up on them.
The solution would probably be to be VERY careful who you link to (which seems to be good practice anyway), or maybe to use some software to manage your link exchanges.
I would be interested to see what link exchange software some of you use to manage your links….post a comment and let me know.
Cheers for now