The Linkback Request Scheme

—If you receive a linkback request... study it carefully
Jenny Marsh —01/2013
They approach you praising your site, and then modestly ask if you could link to a page on their site. The page fits, but the site is obviously commercial. This is the linkback request scheme that is being increasingly used. This is not a scam, but it is quite amusing!

THE LINKBACK REQUEST is becoming more prevalent as quality links from established websites are increasingly sort after. This particular scheme involves creating a webpage that fits with the the subject matter of a particular established website and then sending a highly complimentary email to the owner or admin of that website along with a heart-touching story and a request for a link-back. Who could refuse?!

Here is an example that was sent to us on the 24th January 2013 for what appeared to be the email address 'lillian@lvbeethoven.com', but this was a false header and as far as we can tell lvbeethove.com has nothing to do with this:

Subject: Using your resources...thank you

Hey Michael!

I just wanted to send you a quick email on behalf of some of the children I volunteer with at The Children's Cancer Center here in New Jersey. We've been reviewing some resources on the internet for a project about meditation and came across your page http://www.energygrid.com/spirit-links.html and found it extremely helpful!

As a thank you, a couple of the kids wanted to send you back another page they found about meditation and cleaning that they thought you might want to add to your site because it could help you and others as well - http://www.commercialofficecleaning.com/cleaning-philosophy.html.

They've actually been using it as much as your page to complete their project and thought it would be exciting to see it up on the same page as where they got the information from your site that helped them so much. I even offered Jenny, the student that presented it to me, extra credit if you wanted to help us! The parents seem to like it because it involves cleaning too, which they hope all the kids will improve upon haha.

Would you be able to consider adding it for them? I would love to surprise them by showing them it on the site before they finish their project. They would be so excited! That generally calls for a cake day around here! :)

Thanks again,
Lillian Phillips
lillian@lvbeethoven.com

Looking at the headers more closely, the message appears to originate from this Chinese IP address (although this might just be a forwarding node in a long chain, but it certainly has nothing to do with the domain lvbeethoven.com):

IP: 198.15.109.230
Decimal: 3322899942
Hostname: mx.lvbeethoven.com
ISP: Secured Servers LLC
Organization: Secured Servers LLC
Services: None detected
Type: Corporate
Assignment: Static IP
Country: China

'Lillian Phillips' therefore is most probably a false name, and 'her' email address ilillian@lvbeethoven.com is also false — we tried replying to it to find out more information but the email was rejected by the lvbeethoven.com server.

Here is the page that the link pointed to: a janitorial cleaning services website with an article on mindfulness and meditation!! lol

linkback scam 01

What is amusing is to google "Waxing Philosophical on Cleaning the Soul" and you get these meditation sites that have fallen for this amusing and legitimate SEO scheme.

http://www.google.com/#q="Waxing+Philosophical+on+Cleaning+the+Soul"

With some google searching we also found that the same 'Lillian Phillips' had duped another website to get a link put in, this time for this insurance company link to a page on stress:

http://www.medicalinsurance.net/a-stress-relief-guide-for-your-mental-health

Again we have a page that does not seem to fit the rest of the site… it is a manufactured page in order to pique the interest of the site you are requesting a backlink from. Again the same cancer volunteer story is used, and once again we have subject material that does not fit the site theme. (The owner of the duped site did say that the page had changed since he first linked to it — links that were not there originally had been added.)

linkback scam 02

This one must be newer because a google search brings up almost no links:

http://www.google.com/#q="A+Stress+Relief+Guide+for+Your+Mental+Health"

So if anyone approaches you for a linkback, you should not only look at the page, but also the site to which it belongs. Here are some tell-tale signs that the linkback is being played:

  1. The request is for a linkback to a particular page rather than a whole site.
  2. The page does not seem to fit the subject material of the site — it seems out of place (like discussing meditation on a janitorial site).
  3. The link pages seem disconnected from the rest of the site, and if you go to the home page you will not find a clear route to the link page.
  4. The requesting email is highly complimentary of your own website.
  5. A sob-story is included, usually involving children or sick people.
  6. If you are more technical, you find the email headers are faked.
  7. Similar linkbacks are found on other sites and to other sites, which are equally incongruous with the subject matter.

Finally, it is important to check your linkbacks periodically as it is all too easy to change material once a linkback has been made.

But we do emphasis that this is a legitimate SEO tactic. If someone wants traffic for a commercial site and so writes a brilliant essay on a completely unrelated topic in order to get linkbacks from sites involved with that topic… well that is just normal SEO and well done to them! (Spirituality and meditation are good topics as people with websites involved in these areas tend to be more open, less suspicious and less SEO savvy.) So we certainly do not see these guys as scammers, although using false stories about cancer and children to add gravitas to the request for a backlink is perhaps going a bit far!end

 

Please Note:

The two websites mentioned above may have nothing to do with the unethical SEO strategy described above, and we stress that this is NOT a scam… it is more of an amusing and legitimate SEO tactic. And we are 100% certain that lvbeethoven.com has absolutely nothing to do with this.