Dissecting a Typical Spam Letter

Like, I’m sure, many of you who own or run websites, I get a shedload of spam. Usually I filter it out before ever having to open it but just occasionally I read some to see what inane nonsense is coming through at the moment. Probably 90% is from Indian web designers and so-called SEOs with incredibly unlikely English names and a complete inability to spell or construct grammatical sentences; trying to get me to outsource to them. Anyone stupid enough to take on an unknown company who advertises “Upcoming Crismos Offer…” (as contained in one recent email) deserves all they get, but there must be some folk who do, otherwise these messages would have died out years ago. Are businesses so blinkered by cheap costs or led by accountants who can’t see beyond the monthly bottom line that they would imagine for a moment that they’d get a useful result from this?

However the ones that really annoy me are the supposedly personal emails telling me how one of my sites could be doing so much better if I only did some SEO on it. Some clients and prospective clients occasionally mention them to me – and that despite the fact that I always try to educate all my clients as much as possible about the facts of online life – probably because they often play on their fears that somehow they’re missing something, or they tell them what they want to hear; just spend some money on our magic formula and you can get all the traffic you want – without all that tiresome marketing effort.

So I’ve decided to highlight some of these messages that I receive with some responses/annotations; to show just how transparently idiotic they are. If you’re a novice at online marketing then they may help you directly; if you’re an experienced practitioner then maybe you can use them to highlight to your clients the sort of thing they should treat with scorn.

I’ll start with a relatively simple one – I’ve had far worse than this – just because it’s one that arrived in the last couple of days – it’s almost certainly automated but I’ll answer it as if it were actually sent by a human being to show how stupid it is:

Hello my name is Ophelia Renee and I am an Internet and Website Specialist.

Hmm, try Googling that name – three spam reports in the top three places.

I was looking up websites in Google under the keyword search chess magazine and came upon your website www.chessedinburgh.co.uk. I see that you are not ranked on the first page for your primary keyword searches.

Really? You mean terms like “Chess in Edinburgh”, “Play chess in Edinburgh”, “Edinburgh Chess Clubs”, “Edinburgh Chess league”, and many more, all of which we share the top two places with the Edinburgh Chess Club – a site incidentally that I also built.

Since we don’t have a magazine of our own and don’t sell magazines, why on earth would we want to rank for such a term as “chess magazine”?

there is no reason that you can’t have top three rankings for your keywords based on your website’s structure and content.

Indeed there isn’t – that’s because being a professional web designer and SEO, I made sure that the structure and content were appropriate even though these sites are both now quite old – and that’s why we do rank top for those terms that we can legitimately target. But then you appear to have contacted me from my details on the site which explicitly state that I am an SEO, so why are you wasting your time trying to sell me SEO services?

You need significantly more one way anchor text backlinks and I can help you with this.

Would those be exactly the type of exact match anchor text backlinks that Google have just been hammering with increasing force across the entire internet for the last few months and which have caused thousands of sites to plummet in the rankings?

I have a very simple way to prove that what I do works and it’s risk free for you to try.
We pride ourselves on increasing our clients customers and sales

Sales? Hmm, has your extensive research somehow failed to notice that we are a regional chess league – a non-profit making association of non-profit making chess clubs who simply play matches against each other. We have members – not clients – and we don’t make sales.

to that end we also provide a fully upgraded website designed to convert.

Leaving aside the fact that we provide information and have no conversions as we have no sales, I’m a little puzzled – you said our content and structure was good enough to rank well, so why would a new website be of any benefit?

Your new website comes complete with a mobile website (distinct website when people access your business from their phone),

Have you not heard that Google prefers that mobile sites should be handled by making the normal website respond well to mobile devices rather than by having a separate site? Oh, did I mention that we’re not a business?

conversion optimization, online control panel, blog, social functions including Twitter and Facebook. A dated website costs you conversions, sales and additional business.

So you’d want us to ditch the forum that we have that you appear not to have noticed? And have our hard-working volunteers waste their time on social media rather than organising our tournaments. Did I mention that we’re not a business?

Additionally, we have a very successful referral program which allows you to refer other businesses and receive a substantial compensation for the referral and the business they refer, five tiers down and includes a monthly residual! Many of our clients earn our advanced packages for free because of the referrals they bring.

Five tiers down? Would this be a Multi-Level Marketing scheme by any chance? Not that we know any other businesses – did I mention that we’re not a business?

Nothing beats performance and after you see what we are able to do for your business you will feel confident in the results we can achieve.

Did I mention – oh never mind.

Would it be okay if I were to give you a call or you can certainly call me anytime at the number below. I would love to continue this discussion over the phone with you.

I always thought that a discussion implied a two-way process of interaction. You spammed me. Trust me, this is the nearest you’ll get to interaction.


Ophelia Renee (US company name and phone number removed ‘cos I don’t want to give them any more publicity)

I’m touched that someone from all the way over there in the USA should take such an interest in our little website in Scotland, a country that actually has quite a lot of very good SEOs, people a bit like err, me. Oh, by the way, I filter my phone calls rather heavily due to scammy and fraudulent calls from Indian call centres trying to tell me I have a virus on my PC or sell me crappy link building services, so you may have some problems getting through.

Have a nice day (do robots have nice days?)



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