Have you been checking your stats programs lately?
I’ve been checking mine. And my stats program has been DECEIVED by black-hatters. (Those are people who use questionnable (at the least) tactics to make money online.)
Black hat marketers tend to be the most creative in the bunch. And they realize that getting traffic to a web site is as simple as sharing a URL with someone.
One way to get website traffic might be to walk down the street and tell people about your site. Or you could send them a letter. You could wear a sticker with your URL.
Anyway you can get your URL in front of someone is a way to get traffic.
And the black-hatters have discovered that one way is to “link” to your site from theirs… and then have a BOT click on the link to your site so that the Black Hatters URL will show up in your stats program!
(All stats programs will tell you where your visitors came from. In this case, it looks likes visitors are coming from the Black Hatters site… when it’s most likely a fake visit from a computer program.)
Because there are so many webmasters addicted to their stats, people will naturally click the link to see who’s linking to them. And that’s how you find yourself on the black hatters website.
Several of my sites have been targeted by these Mad Black-Hatters lately.
My question is… Is this a clever, innocent way to get traffic? Is it dishonest? Is it wrong?
I think at the least it’s very disingenuous. It’s not a very good way to introduce your business to someone.
But tell me, is this free traffic method too tempting for you? Would you use this technique for your business?
Please respond below, cheers!
I’ve never thought of it as a Black Hat technique, but the Internet Business Box does precisely what you describe.
It isn’t necessarily trying to get traffic. It is mostly trying to get an updated title from the sites in it’s site directory. It is also making sure the site is still alive so that dead sites can be removed from the directory.
It is a bot though. And it sets the referrer to the page of the link so it is basically “clicking on the link” to check it. It does this to simulate an actual visit to the site to make sure it is alive to regular visitors.
Our bot doesn’t even obey robots.txt because:
a) Someone requested in some way to have their site listed in our directory.
b) We only hit the home page. We don’t spider so there is no chance of us overwhelming a site.
I hope you aren’t talking about us. We aren’t intentionally trying to trick anyone into doing anything. We just want a good high quality site directory and all valid links in our blogroll.
Hi Kristi, no, I wasn’t talking about you. The site I noticed it from describes itself as a “black hat” blog, and they use a directory called “TOPSITES” that’s only purpose seems to be to lure people to their page. (The TOPSITES directory is the same as the main directory, but I think it’s supposed to convince the webmaster they’ve been listed somewhere as a “Top Site.”)
They get the domain names that they target randomly from “Alexa Data” in bulk.
Because of that and the deception of being a “Top Site,” I think their technique is disingenuous and spammy.
But done right, I kind of like the technique. In a way I’ve used it myself while linking to other wordpress blogs. I knew they might discover my blog in their control panel.
I think the difference is similar to the difference between sending an email vs. sending spam.
I have often noticed that “black hat” slimy techniques are only a step or two away from being something actually useful and not very slimy.
For instance, the FTC crackdown was mostly spurred by fake blogs selling various items. The blogs were “fake” or flogs because the comments didn’t really work and there wasn’t really an archive, etc.
I didn’t understand why they didn’t just use real blogs… until I tried it and realized what a huge kludge WordPress is with all of the plug-ins you need to actually do business with it.
Same with this technique. Maybe there is something just a step or two away from log file spamming that is useful (such as your example of linking to blogs knowng that you will be getting their attention in their control panel).
There is a lot to be learned from the black hat crowd even if you refuse to cross the ethics line and join them… which would be stupid since none of the black hat crowd are numbered among the most successful sites on the Internet. Their methods don’t work, but something just a couple steps across the ethics line often does work!
I just ignore them and move on. If it was _that_ effective I have to believe you would see a lot more of it.
Cheers to that.
I wouldn’t exactly call that a traffic strategy. You as copywriter will agree that conversion can’t be great either, because the “webmaster” is in the mood of checking the stats not go “shopping.”
Besides that, a bot should obey ROBOTX.TXT (the homepage could be blocked too) and send an appropriate http agent header; should not try to fake a human visitor.
I guess such a strategy works much better when performed by a person in a social media context. (Are you checking out your new followers on Twitter? Probably yes. 🙂
I’m sure they think of it as a traffic strategy.
It’s fairly targeted coming from a “Black Hat SEO” blog, as the people it will pick up are people looking at their stats. And it might even take advantage of the same psychological mind frame that people clicking from Twitter Bio’s have… like I wrote about earlier.
Regardless, it’s free traffic so it doesn’t have to convert well.
Cheers to the social media comment. That probably does work best.