Web Spam: Some Scams Directed at Webmasters and Siteowners

Spammers play a numbers game. They send out thousands of messages and will be happy if only one mark will fall for it. It’s cheap for them to send the messages and the potential return is great. Your standard spam email paints with a very broad brush, targeting everybody with an email address, offering just as many diverse goods and services. But a good marketer wants to target a more specific demographic. How about addressing just website owners? Nothing easier than that. Send spam comments to their blogs, don’t be afraid to use the “Contact Us” page or if you are really good, spam their weblogs and Google Analytics accounts.

Well Known Spam

spam-sm“Hey webmaster,When you write some blogs and share with us,that is a hard work for you but share makes you happly right? yes I am a webmaster too,and I wanna share with you my method to make some extra cash,not too much maybe $100 a day. but when you keep up the work,the cash will come in much and more. more info you can checkout my blog below”

That’s your standard comment spam which can be found also in email that comes in through your contact page.

“Insert your standard offering for first page Google rankings and something about not using bold or italic often enough on your webpage in English worse than mine.”

In the messages above it’s obvious who the target is: the owner or operator of a website. Go ahead, ignore it, send it to the trash. Install a spam blocker on your website. It’s unlikely you will be able to make it go away completely.

What is Referrer Spam?

Google_Analytics_2014So you have been a responsible small business owner who actually pays attention to what’s going on with your website. You are using Google Analytics to check on your monthly traffic, who visited your site and how they got there. Then, next to Facebook, Google and perhaps Craigslist some site named semalt.com pops up as a referrer, ranked #4 in your traffic log.

Who or what is semalt.com? “a professional webmaster analytics tool that opens the door to new opportunities for the market monitoring, yours and your competitors’ positions tracking and comprehensible analytics business information.”, says one of their taglines. Well, so is Google Analytics and you don’t see it showing up in your statistics. In fact, you don’t see a single bot showing up, because none of the good bots like googlebot, bingbot or others executes the javascript that’s needed to trigger an entry into Google Analytics. Semalt.com does it deliberatly because they want to appear in your statistics and get you interested in their “product”. They are not interested in your site or what you are selling on your site. They want to sell their “professional webmaster analytics tool” to you. No thanks.

There are two ways how to deal with this: exclude it from the statistics, which is easier to do or block them entirely, which needs some technical expertise. More about this in a moment.

Advanced Referrer Spam: Affiliate links

If you don’t have anything to sell yourself, sell other people’s products and get a commission. That’s what affiliate marketing is about. You link to a product, for instance http://www.a2hosting.com/4957.html, and you get a certain amount of money into your account (#4957) for every product that’s being sold for a certain amount of time (typically 30 days). The affiliate link is mine. It leads to my hosting provider who wants me to promote their services. It makes sense, I am a webdesigner and local SEO expert. I get asked which hosting company to use all the time. I also disclose when I am sending you to a site where I make money if you buy there.

Here is something sneakier: Somebody recently told me that he gets 20% of his traffic from a site forum20.smailik.org . If you follow to the site, you will immediately be redirected to a site at aliexpress.com through a link that, you guessed it, contains an affiliate ID. Which means, every webmaster who sees the link and wonders what’s behind smailik.org will click on it. One in a thousand may actually end up buying something at aliexpress.com, creating income for the spammer.

There are more referrer spammers out there who just try to appear in your statistics and try get you to follow the link.

How To Get Rid of Referrer Spam?

As I said before, you can either block them altogether or at least stop them from showing in the statistics. Here’s a (non-affiliate) link to an article and a video about how to keep semalt.com out of your Google Analytics statistics at Hello SEO Copywriting.

Raventools here explains how to keep them away from your site by blocking them in your .htaccess file, the place where all the bad boys like spammers and hackers end up.


As if you need to be told: Be careful what links you click and always consider who is sending you certain messages. If you’ve never been in contact with them, there’s a good chance it’s spam. Also, the scammers will find new ways to trick you as fast as you Apple roles out new phones and watches. Faster, actually.

P.S. For obvious reasons I didn’t markup the scammer’s sites as links. Why would I give them any help at all. Besides, you aren’t supposed to go to their sites because they are not trustworthy.

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