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Once your site is launched it’s not uncommon to be plagued by spam emails. Spam email, also known as ‘Junk email’, is any form of unsolicited mail. Such messages are as old as the Internet itself. Some are obvious to spot and some are not so obvious.

Thankfully, the ones that are obvious never usually even reach our inboxes because most mail servers can filter them out. Sometimes though, a few do slip through. I’d regard the obvious ones as:

Selling dubious products

The most obvious ones are the oldest ones. You’re probably familiar with those emails that are trying to sell you pills to make you more successful in the bedroom, ‘genuine’ Swiss watches, cheap software and so on.

If you’re ever tempted don’t ever think any of what you are buying is the genuine article. I feel like I shouldn’t need to tell you that but the fact spammers are still sending out these emails must mean that some people fall for them.

Link generation

Some emails just contain lots of links and some text—which is sometimes completely garbled. Why would anyone want to send you such an email? In fact, this was never intended to be an email; it was intended to go on a website in an attempt to get links to a site, thus improving their search engine rankings. These emails are sent by automated programs which will submit their spam to any contact form they come across—hoping that it will be a comments page for a blog, or something similar.

Phishing

Phishing is where you get an email claiming to be from your bank saying that you need to update your personal information. The email is not from your bank of course. They’re hoping you’ll give them enough information so they can access your online banking. Unlike most spam, because these can result in serious financial loss, phishing is taken very seriously. Email programs and providers are good at filtering phishing email out and issuing a warning if they do make it to your inbox.

A bank will never ever ask for all your security details via email. If in doubt, contact your bank by phone.

Asking for money

It’s not every day you get an email from an estranged Nigerian Prince offering to deposit a few million into your bank account. The story behind the wealth differs from mail to mail but the setup is always the same. Someone from another country has acquired a huge amount of money and they need your help. If you deposit just a small amount of cash into their account they’ll split their fortune with you. What’s laughable (and pathetic) about these emails is they claim to be of royalty or the President of a national bank and yet the email is sent from a hotmail.com account.

It’s beyond belief that people fall for these scams but again, the fact they’re still doing the rounds must mean that some occasionally do.

Now for the not so obvious ones. These tend to be sent by humans rather than software so they can be harder to spot—and can more easily make it into your inbox.

The promise of top search engine rankings

The email will typically say something like this:

We noticed that you are not at the top of the search engines for a number of your key terms. We have helped companies similar to yours to achieve top organic rankings. Please reply to this message and we will prepare a special proposal for you, to show you how we can achieve similar results for you.

Some people may start to panic, thinking that their website is underperforming. These emails are so ubiquitous too. I’d say over 90% of my clients have had the above email, or something similar.

Let me assure you the only thing you need to do with such emails is delete them. Notice how although they have apparently done some analysis work on your site there is no specific reference to either you or your website. I have had this email sent to some of my clients who are already number one for all their search terms on Google. I have even asked to see this ‘special proposal’; suffice to say I got no reply.

So why are they sending them? In the spam world because they sending things out in such great volume if they get one response out of 10,000 it’s regarded as a success. I’ve never had the misfortune to deal with any of these spam SEO companies but I’d take a guess they’re just cowboys. They may do some short term SEO on your site only to get it banned because they used unethical techniques. By the time that’s happened you’ll have paid them of course—and you won’t ever hear from them again.

Be very wary of any SEO company that contact you out of the blue. Especially like the above where they don’t reference your own website and they don’t even give you a portfolio or client list of their own to look at.

Cheap web work from overseas companies

A lot of countries—especially India—like to send anyone and everyone their generic sales pitch email offering you cheap web design in their country. Some people might disagree with me that this is spam but I beg to differ. Remember, the definition of spam is any unsolicited email. The Indian countries would argue they got your email from an address that was available on your site. That may be the case but these people send the same impersonal email out to every address they can get their hands on.

While I think this is spam, unlike phishing, selling dubious products and asking for money, these are not likely to be confidence tricks. Rather, they are desperate for work from more affluent countries. So if you’re looking to build a website and to save a few pounds you may be tempted. That’s up to you but before you do I implore you to read my blog post:Should you get your website built overseas?

To use me in a web project call me on 07843 483 078 or get a free quote online.

Tim Bennett is a Leeds-based web designer from Yorkshire. He has a First Class Honours degree in Computing from Leeds Metropolitan University and currently runs his own one-man web design company, Texelate.