Norwegian Technology Journalist Exposes an SEO Scam
Academic paper translation, with a link back! Another ‘clever’ SEO idea which further damaged the reputation of our industry.
Image Credit: Fraud 2.0: Albertio wants to stick his straw in NRKbeta’s Google Juice
Around six months ago I received an email from a translation service offering to translate one of my science articles from English to Bulgarian. They also mentioned something about me linking back to that translation and (being an SEO) I saw that there were hidden agendas. I had a chuckle and deleted the email.
No harm done. Right? Wrong!
The same provider clearly contacted a very large number of academic authors, science writers and scholars asking them for the same thing. The problem with trying to scam smart people is that they are likely smarter than you and will figure out what you’re trying to do. Sadly some fell into the trap.
Academics Fight Back
This morning I scanned over my junk mail for false positives. One caught my eye and I decided to read it:
I want to inform you, that if you ever got message requesting your permission to translate your publication, don’t trust those people. They making that in a commercial purpose. The translation made by Google translate (you can check that).
When you post the link back to the site (where the translation is located) you help them to prove the site Google score and the PageRank of the site. The higher PageRank and Google score the more people can find the site, the more money this site cost. It’s a commercial sites.
The example of the first letter you may got:
I’ve known you website for ages, strictly speaking from year 2000. I found interesting your publication “Name of the publication” which I googled on <link to publication> ! I’d love to use it in a project I’m involved with called “Web Flower Society” (“Translation for education”, Geek Science”, etc) so I’m seeking your permission for translation to Spanish language. “Web Flower Society” is a freemium-model non-English language orientated startup with collection of scientific articles, personal notes etc. in several languages that is collaboratively edited by volunteers from around the world since 1999. Young and old, students and professors – even your neighbor could be a volunteer member.
If you agree, we will credit you for your work in the resulting translation’s references by stating that it was based on your work and is used with your permission, and by mentioning the name of my project “Web
Flower Society” (“Translation for education”, Geek Science”, etc) back to:<link to publication>
Thank you for your time and patience. I look forward to your response next week.
Wishing you the best,”
The (excluded) second part of the email names involved translators and the company behind the scam. It also lists an article by Anders Hofseth which details his experience with the whole thing. The article includes one entire sample of the communication trail between Anders and the translator, Albert.
Unfortunately what happens is that this translation team wouldn’t just (Google) translate and notify the original author, but instead they pester people until the link has been placed.
Check this out:
So sorry to disturb you again with my request. But I am very concerned about it, as I have not heard from you for more than a half month. Is there a chance, that you will publish the link to my translation…
Uppman, calls this link building method unethical and ‘blackhat’. I personally label this tactic as ‘sneaky and manipulative’ and certainly in breach of Google’s guidelines. But could this harm a site? No. They could have been running their little scheme for a long time and with decent success rate, but greed and scale got in a way (as usual). This clearly worked on a number of cases so they thought the next step is to hire an army of people to do the same thing and instructed them to extract those link with borderline aggressive follow-ups.
The company on the receiving end of the ‘translation scheme’ did acquire some great links, but now that its reputation is challenged – the question is, was the whole thing worth it?
Fraud 2.0: Albertio wants to stick his straw in NRKbeta’s Google Juice