Certain types of spam seems to come in waves. Spammers will use the same text over and over again in their spammy messages while only replacing key variable information. One of the messages that I have seen making the rounds is the one below advertising an SEO service (link and other info has been removed).
Hi I just wanted to send you a quick message here instead of calling you. I came to your —————- page and noticed you could have a lot more visitors. I have found that the key to running a popular website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your subject matter. There is a company that you can get keyword targeted visitors from and they let you try the service for free for 7 days. I managed to get over 300 targeted visitors to day to my website. Check it out here: ———————
Notice the way it sounds so casual. So courteous. A message rather than a call? A decision made when I have no phone number listed on the site you visited? The bot that sends out these messages simply inserts the title of the page from the contact form into the message body. Apparently, this is supposed to make it seem like it’s legitimate.
This spammer group has been targeting various sites of mine for a while. Although the email above came today, I did a search of email in my inbox and found the following that I had not thrown out with the junk. This one’s dated June 16, 2015 (underlining is mine):
Hi my name is Jacqueline and I just wanted to drop you a quick note here instead of calling you. I came to your ————- page and noticed you could have a lot more traffic. I have found that the key to running a popular website is making sure the visitors you are getting are interested in your niche. There is a company that you can get targeted visitors from and they let you try the service for free for 7 days. I managed to get over 300 targeted visitors to day to my website. Visit them here: ———
Interesting how over the course of the year, most of the information in this spammy message remained the same, but some parts were changed. I underlined the parts of the earlier message that were different in the newer message. We are told the name of the sender, Jacqueline, which matched the name of the sender in the “From” line of the email. The newer message does not include such an introduction. The newer message also refers to itself as “a quick message” rather than “a quick note”, and it entices us to get “a lot more visitors” rather than “a lot more traffic”. Also, the newer message wants to help me target people who like my “subject matter”, rather than my “niche”.
So why did the spammer decide to make these changes? Some of them are rather subtle, but I suspect that there are two reasons. First, taking out the name of the sender from the body of the spam could make it easier to bypass junk mail filters. Second, replacing words like “niche” with “subject matter” may be more appealing to average website owners if “niche” sounds slightly too technical. I’m not sure if there are spammer focus groups or if spammers do market research, but the small tweaks in these messages suggest a desire to hone a message to make it more appealing and to close the deal (i.e. click on a link included with the message).
The lesson here is simple – don’t ever hire an SEO (or web designer) that you hear about through an unsolicited email. It’s just not worth it. If a company is willing to advertise itself through shady means to get your business, why should it be expected to promote your business through legitimate means?