Fun email

Every so often I get an email like this:

Dear Webmaster,

I have browsed your site and I’m interested in purchasing advertising space in it.
I am mainly interested in placing a new page on your site with content and links that I will supply.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss this further or if you have other ideas.

Kind Regards,
Rob

Normally I just delete junk like this, but I decided to reply. I wrote back “Can you show some other examples of stuff you’ve done before?” And usually at this point, the person realizes that I’m a webspam person at Google and shuts up. But I got a reply:

My offer is this:
I want you to create a new page on your site.
I will send you a gambling related article with my links on it that will be
on the new page.
I wish that this page will have only my links on it with no other external
links.
Also I wish that this page will have a link from all the pages on the site.
Please let me know what you think and how much will it cost to me.
Best regards,
Rob.

I wrote back and asked Rob for an example page; we’ll see if he bites. ;)

Later: He did bite.

Update: You might also enjoy these other fun emails I’ve received in the past.

69 Responses to Fun email (Leave a comment)

  1. dave (orginal)

    Yep, that is what the TBPR causes, spam (SE spam and email spam) and LOADS of it.

    IMO, TBPR causes more problems than it solves.

    BTW, I made mention a few times (on this blog) about all the spammy custom groups in Google groups and how they make it impossible to search Google Groups. All you get is silly scraped pages turned into a custom group with names like licence plate numbers.

    I emailed Google, got the standard template reply, posted it on Google Groups Help Forum, no luck there either. HOWEVER, Yesterday I noticed you can now exclude them. Pass my thanks on please, Matt.

  2. If it wasn’t so danged funny, I’d almost feel sorry for that poor misguided dweeb. Nah, not really. What a dork.

    Advice to spammy webmaster folks: Learn who Matt Cutts is. Just sayin’… :)

  3. But how much will it cost? :.)

  4. Haha nice. I love toying with people like this also.

  5. Oh, please please please share with us some screenshots, and yeah, what would you charge him for his NOFOLLOW’ed links? lol

  6. I got one similar to this the other day. They were asking to place some advertising on my site, so I bit and said “sure, what were you talking about?”

    Their reply included various paragraphs of text from my site saying “please link the word internet to this url, the word web to this url, etc etc…”

  7. Dave (Original)

    You should take his/her money and nofollow the links. Unless he/she specifically request links WITHOUT nofollow, there is nothing they can do, other than get a taste of their own medicine :)

  8. Matt,

    Could you please unban my gambling sites as I thought you were a DIFFERENT Matt Cutts :)

    Kidding – Matt I look forward to seeing you again next week at PubCon.

    Are you going to the SEOMoz party Wednesday night since you and Maile went to their party at the end of SMX Advanced earlier this year?

    ,Michael Martin
    http://www.googlenandblog.com/

  9. OMG, how stupid can this person be, emailing you of all people! Here he’s trying to do what he thinks is SEO and doesn’t even realize to whom he writes. Jeez! Utterly clueless…

  10. heeh, Mr. Cutts is 419-baiting a link troller, See how far you can get him to go to put links on your site? Ask him if he’ll link back to you. How much does he want for each link? How about posting his links, with his anchor text of choice here: http://www.mattcutts.com/files/noindex-test.html
    gotta let us know how this turns out…

  11. Raj

    Just curious to know about the price you asked and the happenings after the bite!

  12. I get crap like that all the time. Better to write good stuff and socialize.

  13. I think the appropriate response is to send a picture of yourself with your pinky in the corner of your mouth, and the text “a million dollars.”

  14. Very funny post. Matt’s got a good sense of humor. The fellow definitely messed with the wrong person.

  15. Hey mutt ! Very interesting …but it is not a serious .. every webmaster is getting such type of requests but the matter is that Why people are communicating with webmaster of other’s site that is totally not related, not matched?

  16. Hi Matt
    So this case is pretty clear cut – the guy is on the wrong track and I’m looking forward to the next instalment of his unfortunate journey!
    However, I have a serious question – is the following acceptable practice…
    On behalf of a client, we wrote to 25 small charities with the offer of an advertisement/link/acknowledgement with the words: ‘… charity is proudly supported by …’ I think we offered a donation of $250-$500 and did not ask for exclusivity or specify followed links.
    I should be clear that their was a clear connection between our (reputable) client’s business and the charities’ area of concern.
    We were a little surprised when we got a low response – if nothing else I expected charities to follow up and look to develop a relationship to be in a position to get future donations/publicity.

  17. OK so what normally happens when you discover a concrete example of a person admitting that they have bought a link from a particular page?

    Do both sites get a penalty? Is the penalty just PR or rankings too?

    The reason I ask is that a lot of sites seem to be getting away with blatant link buying. Perhaps its time for stronger action.

  18. Sir, may I ask? I want to add questions related to Patrick Altoft’s inquiry.

    Who decide who should be penalized, is it your team? Is it automatic or manually flagged? If in case you made a spam tag, what will be the action that the concerned should do to reverse the penalty?

  19. This is pretty funny that he didn’t know who he was making this offer to. Maybe he did an automated email out to higher ranking sites.

    Big faux pas!

  20. Oh, cool, a new way to write spam reports ;-)

    greetz
    Robert

  21. So your selling links now also?

    I want to see how far you can take this.

    Would also love to hear your thoughts on what Patrick has asked.

  22. This is great! You have inspired me to perhaps be a bit more friendly to our fellow spammers in the spirit of entertainment! ;-)

    My favorite “foolish spammer” tale happened to me a few weeks back. I had just posted an “outing” blog post related to a site that was using some spam tactics to rank in Google. Well they got wind of my article and sent me a threatening message stating they were going to put “paid links” that “you paid for” all over their spam link farm and point them to my site! They were trying to frame me and get me busted for supposedly outing them on their spam link farm.

    It was probably the dumbest thing they could have threatened me with. First of all it makes them look like a site that sells links, and secondly it gave me tons of inbound links.

    They actually put the links to my blog up on their link farm of about 150 sites for a day or two. They even added some text around the link thanking me for “buying” the link in an effort to I guess get me in trouble.

    Long story short, karma caught up with these spammers and they got booted from Google for a whole slew of other reasons…

  23. Haha so his previously purchased linkfarm-page is now dead in Google’s eyes? :)

    Do you also punish the siteowner that got paid, for selling the page with external links?

  24. Robert, it’s better to send the spam report in through the normal way, which is https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport?hl=en :)

  25. Sounds familiar. While I’m not the most popular site, I do get offers from time to time. Sadly, a lesser man might bite their apple, I couldn’t compromise my site (not for $10/month)

  26. I did received this kind of message, well…used to.
    But seems that recently there is a lot of email coming from domain tasters asking if I would be interested in buying a domain that is related to mine. Like being offered xytheme.net, info, org for a ridicoulus of price; $425 per domain? WTH?

    have you received that, Matt?

  27. OhHh, I don’t feel so special anymore. I thought those emails were specifically for me. :(

    Actually, over the past few months, I’ve had some of these types of emails off of at least TWO UK SEO companies that are well known in the market with email addresses such as clientname@SEOcompany.co.uk/com telling me they are contacting me on their clients behalf. Same kind of offers, they’ll give me the content, blah, blah. But.. wanting nofollow kept off. Errmm yeah, no chance.

    And there I was thinking it was the big G sending these emails out under different personas… seeing if I’d take a paid link bait. Shame on you Mister Cutts, shame on you! Hehe ;)

  28. But he didn’t give you an example like you requested!

  29. Helen

    The problem I have with this whole situation is that the idiots who sent this email make it impossible for respectable webmasters to do their jobs. How on earth are you supposed to get links if you are a new company? Has G stopped to think that maybe every new website is not cookie cutter and doesn’t fit perfectly into the mold, with lots of sites out there looking for cool new content to link to. What if you create cool new content, but because your industry is mostly dead you can not get people to link to you? What if the authority sites in your industry were all created YEARS ago and are only updated about once per decade? What then? Yes, you should only pay for a link if it will bring convertible traffic to your site, right? Well what if it only brings brand recognition? I would buy a link on a 10 year old site that has not been updated in seven years if it would make my site look better in the eyes of my customers. Is that wrong? I realize this person was wrong, but to always punish people for buying links is wrong too.

  30. dave (orginal)

    Tamar Weinberg;

    I wrote back and asked Rob for an example page; we’ll see if he bites.

    Later: He did bite.

  31. dave (orginal)

    Matt, searching Google often turns up posts from Google Answers, yet following the links gives;

    Google Answers is no longer accepting questions

    We’re sorry, but Google Answers has been retired, and is no longer accepting new questions.
    Search or browse the existing Google Answers index by using the search box above or the category links below.

    No need to acknowledge or thank ANY of my posts about Google search quality.

  32. spiderman05

    I have got an email like this last month too. I did not reply as I was a bit suspicious. A few days later, I have got another email urging me to reply to the offer or otherwise they were going to remove me from their database. Typical spammers’ MO. I did not hear from the guy since then.

  33. I often wonder if it isnt the Google Abwehr on a recon mission. Ooohrah.

  34. Wow. He must be really stupid. If he’s “in the business” your name must have said something to him. Or at least he should check the content of your blog ;)

    Best,

    Markus

  35. That guy is an obvious newcomer in this field. Maybe he was tipped off by some wiseass. Or maybe he himself is a wiseass. Cool approach to it, Matt.

  36. Hahaha busted! I guess the #1 rule in the spammer’s handbook should be: learn who Matt Cutts is and do not e-mail him your spammy sites.

  37. rob

    gotta watch dem Rob’s

  38. I’ve replied to over a dozen of those “free seo site report” emails, graciously thanking them for the offer and appealing for a detailed review.

    Not one has ever got back to me :(

  39. Matt, I just checked my site’s PR (I don’t have google PR toolbar. I use Safari) and found I am down a point. I’ve been a 5 forever and have been waiting for movement upward. I have no clue why I would lose a point. Could you solve my mystery?

  40. Damn, Matt. Not bad. Screwing with the heads of the terminally stupid. Nice work!

    Although I can’t help but feel that you took a page out of someone’s playbook…;)

  41. dave (orginal)

    No mystery, Kathy. TBPR is lagged, on a different scale (0-10) and ONLY a snap-shot of the REAL PR that Google uses. The PR you see via the Toolbar could be 6-12 Months out-of-date.

    You WILL notice drop/rise in SERP ranking long before TBPR changes for the page in question. THIS is THE only thing you should keep an eye on. BUT be VERY patient and make subtle changes and WAIT, else you will be chasing your Tail.

    When a Webpage changes in PR, it means 1 or both below.

    1) Less/more external links to the page.
    2) External pages linking t your page has lost/gained PR.

  42. Thanks Dave. I used a page ranker tool (found on the net) since I don’t have a tool to monitor it regularly. I read here. Make sure I use nofollow on my outgoing links and don’t worry about other stuff since it makes my head swim. I try to just address the needs of our members/visitors and hopefully the search gods will be happy with the site. I’ve been at 5 for years. Literally. And have been hoping to move into the 6 category. When I found tonight I was a “4″ I was disappointed and perplexed. No changes that I’m aware of….Gosh I wish there were other sites with higher PR in my category that I could get happy incoming links. They don’t seem to exist in my niche.

  43. dave (orginal)

    I wouldn’t bother with ANY so called “SEO Tools”. About all they will do is lead you up the garden path and do MORE harm than good.

    NOBODY, but a select few at Google, know a pages REAL PR at any one point in time.

    SE0=reading the Google Webmaster guidelines with common sense applied and *making site page for your target audience*. ANYTHING else is a waste of time & money.

    Yes, this does mean perpepual work, research and common sense. Remember, “professional SEO” have a vested interest in keeping the masses confused, THINKING that SEO is Rocket science and ONLY a “professional SEO” can help, but nothing could be further from the truth.

  44. Alin, the funniest was the spammer who spammed Google’s spam report form. In a way, they were reporting their own spam. :)

  45. Hi Matt,

    Just a quick question: If I were to write an article for you (or any other webmaster for that matter) for free, with some backlinks to my site, would that be alright? I’m providing interesting content in exchange for a backlink. I always assumed that was okay? Presumably the problem here is the fact that he wanted to essentially buy links off you.

    Cheers,
    Jonny

  46. ha! I highly doubt his name is Rob also. I got those emails every and they are so ridiculous. Props to your for engaging in some dialogue!

  47. Wait….Dave, I didn’t mean I was using a tool to help me with my site’s PR, but to show it for me. I can’t “see” my PR because I don’t have the google tool bar. I must look it up using those PR tools for a report. Never have I used any kind of SEO tool. We have good organic results because we’ve been on the net soooo long and are still the main site for our niche. My point was I have been a 5 for years and last night I looked and I was a 4. Distressed.

    “SE0=reading the Google Webmaster guidelines with common sense applied and *making site page for your target audience*. ANYTHING else is a waste of time & money.”

    And yes….This is all I’ve done for the past 10 years.

  48. Yeah, that’s fun alright. Until you get ten of these a day. I can’t help but feel a little bit sorry for this person who just couldn’t have got it more wrong with this brilliant idea.

  49. Rob

    Dang… gotta watch those guys named Rob. They give us other guys named Rob a bad rep. For the record: I don’t play link exchange with anyone. Web master Guidelines are the only way to go.

  50. Mark

    If your blog was about gambling, I think that would be perfectly acceptable – assuming the article actually had good information and was valuable to your visitors. Since it obviously isn’t, he’s just a plain old idiot.

  51. dave (orginal)

    Kathy, if you constantly check your PR, via the Google Toolbar or via ANY online checking tool, you are going to be “distressed” at some point. All over a green bar that means nothing. Remember, ONLY Google knows a pages TRUE PR at any point in time.

    Also, TRUE PR is ONLY 1 of 200+ factors Google uses. That is why (combined with the fact we only see TBPR) the SERPS are NOT in the order of listed pages PR’s.

    Besides, your homepage IS #1 for your targeted search term. Focus only ROI and SERP position for targeted terms.

    And yes….This is all I’ve done for the past 10 years.

    Age has little to do with it, quality content has a LOT to do with it. Keep in mind that ALL Webmasters believe THEIR site should be #1.

  52. dave (orginal)

    BTW, what is one of the tools that predicts your PR after the next update that told you PR6? If so, you are better off seeing a Palm reader.

  53. Errr…..No tool told me PR 6. I do not have google tool bar. (I think I’ve said this multiple times already and explained that I was using another online site to tell me my PR because I do not have google tool…..) I think I’d better stop replying here. It seems that no matter what I write, I must not be making myself clear and you are reading stuff into my words and then making assumptions. (I WAS HOPING i would someday move from 5 to 6.) Thanks for your help but I did address my question to Matt with the hopes he might write a post someday about the mysteries of PR for dummies like me.

  54. Dave (Original)

    Errr, it was a question, hence the funny looking symbol “?”

    I know you do NOT have the Google Toolbar, so no point in repeating that, as if I said you did.

    There is LOADS of Google info on Google PR on Google, all you have to do is Google: “Google PageRank -Checker Stanford”. Funny that :)

    Matt, WILL NOT give you, or anyone here, secret information on Google. In fact, he doesn’t answer 99% of off-topic questions, let alone give away the secret sauce.

    In a nutshell, forget ALL about PR and stop obsessing over it, it is holding you back….BIG time.

  55. Deb

    Matt

    I think Rob no visit your site or he did not know the difference of website and blog, but fun is fun

    Deb

  56. It’s all well and good talking about spammy content and how buying links is bad etc. I don’t spam, I don’t buy links, I don’t create hidden content, I don’t buy pages of other website owners etc. The problem I have is those that are doing this are doing rather well out of it.

    There’s one (at least) exponent of this in the UK (who I would happily share with Matt in private) whose modus operandi is to add spammy content and links to sites in order to get their clients and themselves ranking, and guess what, their clients rank.

    I’m all for creating a better web-o-sphere but meantime we lose business to companies who break the rules, make the web a worse place, but get results.

    Hey ho…

    d

  57. Nick

    Helan said this earlier on:

    > How on earth are you supposed to get links if you are a new company?

    Having recently picked up a spam penalty and spent the last 6 weeks trying to get rid of it, i have definately learnt from my mistakes.
    http://www.cane furniture warehouse.co.uk (broke the link as don’t want to be seen spamming)
    I got the penalty through ignorance, and had a resources page etc, breaking g guidelines. Basically i’ve learnt that you have to think differently to getting the ‘quick fix’ . you need to think ‘how can my site benefit people so much that it rewards being linked to?’

    You need not to try and get passed the guidelines, but to use them to help you develop a worthwhile website that deserves links.

    I’ve had a lot of time to think about this as this penalty has cost me a lot of money, and possibly my business.
    My only other comment is that I wish the reconsideration request was a quicker process and that they emailed webmasters back, not knowing what’s going on is hard…..

  58. Scott

    So Matt,

    Out of curiosity, did it come from an @gmail.com account? Gah. I get tons of spam from @gmail.com email addresses. More so than from hotmail, yahoo, etc.

  59. How is what this guy did any different than what large websites, such as WebMD, do with their “sponsored content”? It seems to me, that this type of behavior is accepted as long as you are a big enough company/blog/person.

    Go ahead and take a look at the paid-for articles at the bottom of WebMD. The first article is for “Allergic Asthma Info” and if you search for that term on Google it actually returns that sponsored article at #4!

    Of course, WebMD isn’t the only site to do this, but it seems to be accepted by G for some reason. Can someone please clue me in why one method is the devil and another method is not only accepted, but supported?

  60. Hi Matt,

    Sorry to go off topic but do you have any leads on how to get support for the new Google Videochat? We gave it a try here in the office with our Macs this afternoon and nobody got it even close to working. The installer completes, your browser restarts… not a whiff of a hint of a suggestion of video chat being installed. If you go back to the videochat page you’re invited to install it again.

    The really odd thing is that there doesn’t seem to to be anyplace to report problems or seek support on it. Very strange. Looks like there may be a catch-22 here in which the installer has to work before you can seek support.

    We’re all on recent-model Macbooks with Leopard.

    Thanks!

  61. Got one the other day offering a FREE whole new redesign for my site! (No kidding?) Also got another after that offering free SEO services. These spammers are starting to get sneaky. Guess the Nigerian stuff never worked out.

  62. Asking people what they and dislike about Google, is there enough time in the week for that?

  63. Monica

    Hi Matt,

    I know you don’t actually read every single mail but I’m really upset as how people try to ruin someone elses hard work on line. I just realised that I can’t comment on my own blog with my domain name. I earlier spoke to Richard at SEOgadget and we shared our views about what might have happened. Who will be the right person to speak to when you have your domain not banned but blocked from the internet?

    Thanks

    Mon

  64. Dave (originial)

    Who will be the right person to speak to when you have your domain not banned but blocked from the internet?Your Web host.

  65. LoL – out of the billions of websites he could have emailed – he contacted one of the heads of Google Quality Control.

  66. I’m still getting these sort of emails on a variety of sites. I’ve included a link to a dialogue I’m having with a company that offers a similar service. As it gives their motivations I hope Matt accepts it as my URI.

  67. I find myself laughing at how someone at Google finds this funny. They create100,000s of Gmail accounts and to use them to register on forums, blogs and wikis and Gmail refuses to address this issue

  68. Kamran

    lol, my system’s antivirus says Matt Cutts website with this URL is infected with a virus
    http://www.mattcutts.com/blog/funny-spam-email/

  69. BW, how much it costs to link to your site :D

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