I've had some very convincing spam emails arising from this website. It seems like a new technique for search engine optimisation (SEO) is to write sob stories and send them to site owners asking for them to link to some website that usually has very little to do with the sob story. I guess these are SEO "consultants" trying to get as many sites as possible to link to their client's site to boost the latter's search ranking, given that most search engines rank sites based on how many other sites link to them. I bet this strategy works pretty well. Here are some recent examples:
Subject: "Sean Leavey, electronics question"
As a coordinator at my local STEM and Engineering summer camp, I wanted to let you know your links page has been a big help!
With our summer session coming to a close, I was handed the task to put together a guide for the members to take home and play with. I wanted to make sure I included projects for electrical engineering and robotics. Your page led me to some awesome websites to check out - thanks again!
Do you think you could do me a favor and include another resource on your page? The team and I loved this guide:
[redacted - this was a link to some unrelated site] (does a great job of explaining electrical circuits and has a ton of other electricity/engineering projects to play!)
I thought it would be a great addition to this page: https://attackllama.com/links/ (under the Electronics section)
Let me know if you include it!
We all meet tomorrow, if you get a chance to add it. (But if not, whenever you get a chance to is great!)
I'd be delighted to know the team and I are encouraging others in the field of engineering!
Thanks again and enjoy what's left of summer! Can't believe August is halfway done!
Title: "A thank you and a suggestion from Anthony and Ms. Martinez!"
Happy Wednesday, Sean!
My name is Felicia and I volunteer with a Job Corps program that offers many programs for youth that have decided to learn a trade.
I am writing on behalf of one of my students, Anthony, who is involved in our Network Cable Installation program. Anthony will be finishing the program soon and he's been assigned a project to match resources with websites that future classes, which all of our programs, can pursue after completion. While helping him with this project, we came across your web page https://attackllama.com/hardware/ We want to say thank you!
Anthony, has already landed a job with an established firm to install security systems and he is incredibly excited about it! In his research, he found this useful article about how to set up a security camera system, and while the article alone is useful, what he really got excited about was how he thought he could help others stay safe by sharing this information with you. Here is the article he found - [redacted]
To successfully complete the program, he needs to show that he helped share information with others that could benefit from his research. With this requirement in mind, would you please add a link to the article he found to your own website with all your other links? He's been having some trouble with the exercise and it has really been weighing on him. He has worked very hard at this and I am incredibly proud of him. Would you please add it for him?
Thank you again and thank you for your consideration!
Teacher | Volunteer
Title: "Does attackllama.com take suggestions?"
I had a question regarding the "Links" page on your website. Are you accepting suggestions on this page?
If you are, I would like to suggest adding [redacted] under the "Electronics" header. They are digital publication focused on the power electronics industry. The publication features technical articles, design tips, and application notes from the industry’s leading power electronics engineers and application experts. Here is the URL for the site if you'd like to check it out:
Let me know what you think of this suggestion or if you need any additional information!
Compared to normal spam, these are very good. They usually address me by name, reference the date, weather or time of year, and include links to specific sections of my site and discuss its content. The emails carefully avoid the common pitfalls of spam emails caught by filters, such as multiple links, lack of structure (paragraphs, etc.) and nonsense email addresses. Clearly a human is involved somewhere. It seems like they're targeting sites with link pages like mine.
They don't cover all of their tracks though. In some of the cases above, the sites they wanted me to add links to were completely unrelated to the sob story they told. These sites also happened to be selling something, so they have an advertising budget to pay for this sort of SEO bullshit. The email address domains were also completely unrelated to the profession or background story provided by the apparent author (in the case of "Felicia", it was for some car sharing website... not a school or local authority's domain). I also checked the email headers to see which servers were involved in transporting the emails. In both cases, they originated from "buzzstream.com", which seems to be a marketing website with the tagline "Build Relationships. Build Buzz.". One email was also sent at the equivalent of around 4am in the US in the timezone corresponding to the car sharing club's location.
I replied to the last one to state the evidence and accuse them of making the whole thing up, asking them to prove that their story was actually something other than a pack of lies. As I probably should have expected, I got no reply.