Webdesign companies do exist all over the world, but 90% of spammers sending unsolicited emails and phone calls are from India, usually start-ups and unexperienced teenagers claiming that are big companies and fool naive people to outsource work to them. Not all Indian companies are spammers, but the (5%?) doing SPAM damage reputation of Indian IT industry and reputable companies suffer as well.
Why they spam us
How webdesign & SEO companies operate
Link exchange spam
Guest post spam – make money from spammers
CAD design spam
How to STOP spam
How to TROLL spammers
Links to other articles about spammers
Have you been employed in an Indian SEO company or dealt with them? I would like to hear an “inside opinion” or your experiences. Leave a comment on page!
NEVER hire a SEO company emailing you saying that they visited your website, it is not ranking well in Google and promise you to be #1. They are NOT real visitors of your website and may try to scam you.
Anyone can optimize his website himself. The internet is full with tutorials, example: Beginners guide to SEO on Moz.com. If you are a busy man and need an outsourcing partner, do a search and find a reputable company which itself appear on first page of Google, avoid dealing with those who email you from nowhere.
Why Indian web design & SEO companies contact us?
Shortly after I moved my website from free hosting with subdomain to teoalida.com in 2012 I started receiving emails from people saying that are working for an Indian SEO company and found that my website does not appear on first page of Google, that I am missing headings, META tags, ALT tags and have W3C errors, or asking me if I am interested in possible website redesign of if I am looking for a web developer or mobile app. First time I though that India is the center of world webdesign and they want to help me for free in exchange of the free stuff I offer on my website.
For a time I was replying everyone, sometimes receiving a detailed PDF audit report of my website reporting few errors, their report helped me to fix them. But since more and more emails came, and everyone trying to charge me money after few replies, I realized that they are NOT actual visitors of my website. They do use crawlers to find email addresses on websites that were in plain format. Also scraped WHOIS database, which at that time was displaying my email address in full, I did not bought WHOIS privacy.
I am monitoring traffic with Clicky that shows pages opened by each individual visitor, replying to their emails, I saw people visiting my website from a location nobody visited me before.
I do get few percents of traffic from India, but since my website focus on real estate and architecture, is unlikely for my natural visitors to be “working for a SEO company”.
The rule is simple: if they CAN, I can too, if I CAN’T, nobody else can. I don’t want to let my PERSONAL website in the hands of other persons.
Emails are sent to a large list of addresses and my website title or URL is automatically inserted into email to look like an email sent to me personally. Sometimes they sent a second email, apparently reply to initial email, saying that they never heard from me and ask me again if am interested in their services.
Final conclusion: some spammers crawl the web from time to time, to collect email addresses, and sell to other spammers the database containing URL of each website and emails found in them, so an email address once posted on web is likely to be spammed whole life even if was removed from the web. I also get SPAM emails selling a “list of businesses contact info”, probably SEO companies are buying such things.
As I read on various forums and blogs, the webdesign companies from United States and Europe are heavily spammed by Indians who not just SPAM emails but also make phone calls hoping to convince them to outsource to India.
For a period, my website title was “Architecture & CAD Design services – Teoalida’s Website“, as you can see it contains the words Website + Design, and the robot they made to discover email addresses of web designers accidentally put my website on their mailing list, although I am clearly NOT offering web design services.
I got SPAM on LinkedIn too, where I had name “Teoalida Design” some indians sent me connections and once accepted, they sent me messages like this “Are you looking for a company to outsource your Web Design, WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento or Mobile App development work? I at (company name) have helped businesses like yourself“.
Some spammers target companies who want to improve their SEO. How their robot differentiate business websites from personal blogs or other non-profit websites that dominate the web, we don’t know!
I would like to hear an “inside opinion” from someone who worked for a SEO company and tell us their secrets.
marketing spamming operate
Webdesign SPAM emails ask me if I interested in redesigning my website, the email body being entirely a generic text. But how do they know that I have a website?
SEO SPAM emails are most intriguing, some of them contain my name or URL in the email subject and also within email body (example of subject: “Proposal for teoalida.com“), but the rest of email body is a generic message telling me that my website do not appear on first page in Google, that I am missing headings, META, ALT and TITLE tags, etc, when in reality my website do not have these problems.
They guarantee that will push my website to top of Google search results, 101% recovery from Panda and Penguin penalties, etc (for your info: no one can guarantee #1 in Google. What if multiple websites in same niche apply for their services, who will be #1?). I asked them how they do that, but most of them do not provide details, they just insist to get paid and let my website on their hands.
- Emails are sent from a FREE Gmail account and mention that is compliant with CAN-SPAM act of 2003, maybe it do not violate the law but are still unsolicited email. They are aware that they are spamming and once they got their email disabled, they open another Gmail account (while replying to them, it bounced back from MAILER DAEMON telling that their account was disabled).
- Most emails do not tell company name in first email. On some forums people claim that do this to not damage company reputation, my opinion is that they do this to prevent you contacting company directly, so they can get referral commission (I told to few companies that I do not require their services, they told me that will pay 10% commission if I refer them to anyone requiring webdesign services).
- Emails are sent by “marketing guys” who may be or not be legally employed in a company (few times I visited company website indicated in second email, and if they had live chat box, I messaged them asking if they sent me an email or asking to speak with the person mentioned in 1st email, the chat support guy was not aware of the email I received, meaning that it was sent by third-party (case in which mocking up company is not a good idea, is not their fault that their partners spam emails to earn 10% referral fee).
- Do not take in serious their base country. Some emails say that company is based in US, UK, Australia, etc, but when I gave them a link to my website, got a visit from an Indian IP. The company manager may be an american but employees are Indians to lower the costs, thus their services will be Indian-quality.
- Many emails are written with poor english, excessive colors, etc, given impression of an email written by a kid from his bedroom, but after I reply, their second email inform me that they are a big company with 100-200 SEO professionals, with 5+ years experience and served hundreds of clients over United States, Europe, Asia, etc. I am very doubt about that. A Google search show that their website have PageRank 0 or max 1, meaning that they are newborn companies who their own websites do not rank in Google (webdesign is also highly competitive niche) so their only way to get clients is by spamming emails and lying about their experience. But once time ago I got SEO spam email from a company with PageRank 4 and headquarters in massive 4-storey building visible in Google Earth.
- SEO company website display a portfolio with their clients, websites showing a list of 5-10 keywords that they helped appearing #1 in Google. These keywords are usually combinations of 3 words which have low search volume but also low competition thus any amateur can get himself #1 in Google with minimum of effort, by using desired keywords in page titles and repeating them few times in body text (LOL! I can make a list of over 100 two- and three-word keywords for which my own website appear #1 in Google, without ever paying any fucking SEO company).
- Beware! Most of SEO spammers are NOT experts in how to do a business and FAIL on long term, they exploit flaws in Google algorithms, aka Black Hat SEO techniques, build links unnaturally, abusive link exchange, keyword stuffing, etc. They take your money, raise website ranking on short them, but since Google algorithms are in constant change to downrank the sites using such techniques, soon you fall in a worse place than you were originally, then they take you more money to restore ranking failure due to an unexpected Google algorithm change, if you broke collaboration and try to find another SEO company to fix what they damaged, they may revenge and do worse stuff. Google Webmaster Central Forum is full with people asking for help how to erase Google penalty received after hiring “SEO experts from India”.
- Link building by spam in blogs. Probably you have seen generic comments like “Useful article, amazing blog, etc” having comment author a weird name and linking a website, these are comments left by Indian companies which their SEO plan include using automatic bots to create spammy backlinks for their clients from all over the world. Personally I get hundreds such comments per day, Akismet is a FREE plugin for WordPress blogs that blocks 99% of SPAM comments, but 1% escape and if you browse few of my website pages you can see comments left by Indian SEO companies!
If I will ever need professional SEO services, I will do a search on Google and pick myself a legitimate company, I will NOT work with spammers picking me. Outsourcing to India is a worldwide trend, but many unskilled Indians are trying to join the outsourcing business, damaging image of their whole country.
Link exchange SPAM from India
Indian web developers use same technique, bots to crawl email addresses, to get in contact with other web developers to do link exchange and improve rankings of their clients.
I received from multiple people a message like the below example. First time, I replied normally and they actually put my link on their website, then when I started receiving identical emails from other people, I replied asking them few questions but I always received standard reply that my link was added, and no answers my questions. Probably they configured an email answering machine, but at least… we did the link exchange.
if I didn’t replied first time, I could think that they are just spam and I would never replied to all.
However, I stopped replying at link exchange requests in mid-2013 once realized that violate Google Webmaster Guidelines, practicing it excessively risk penalty for BOTH of us (website removed from Google search results). Also, they often put my link on a /links.htm, a page with PR 0 or even not in Google index, thus giving no benefits for me.
Actually i was searching for quality partners for link exchange and I found that you are posting high quality content on (URL of a random page of my website) so I want to know if you are interested in exchanging link with our
If you are interested to exchange the links, please send me the following details of your site:
Title, Url and Description
I’ll add your link in the next 24 hours. As soon as it’s ready, I’ll send you a confirmation email.
We’d appreciate it if you place a link back to our site using the following HTML code (just copy and paste it into your links page):
I’m pleased to inform you that your link was added to our site on the (URL of their site) page
I just want to know if you are interested in our other sites for exchanging links.
The links details are as as follows :
After adding the links you just reply us that where you have added
these links and we will add your links to all the WEBSITES within 48
we will send you the email after adding all the links .
A very FUNNY-STRANGE case was to receive on firstname.lastname@example.org an email written in romanian language soliciting link exchange. Indeed I am originating from Romania, but my website is in english and worldwide targeted. How his/her email crawling bot knew my nationality?
The email had name Daniela Ionescu, common female name in Romania, but email text used male words, a non-understandable language written probably with Google Translator. it also contained a link to THIS LinkedIn profile profile with a photo with a woman clearly not made in Romania, stating that she studied at a romanian academy. But the words are terribly wrong. Even school name was misspelled (we call university, not academy)!
I replied and asked her few questions in romanian, but she did not understand me so I switched to english, she admitted that is not native romanian. She visited my website from Indian IP and along her SEO clients were few romanian websites. Epic FAIL way for Indian spammers to get clients in other countries!
Guest post SPAM from India – make money from spammers
Indian SEO companies also use bots to find email addresses, and bots to post comments, to find people interested in guest posting.
I got an email offering me backlinks from 5 high authority websites for a price of $20-100. I replied them asking if I can offer a link exchange instead of paying for a guest post on some dodgy website that I do not know if will be closed tomorrow. They replied that link exchange is not possible and sent me an Excel file with list of websites I can place my guest posts on, with their price. I replied that I am NOT interested in paying for links and stop emailing me, but I keep getting every month emails with their updated list of websites and prices. Initially I was intrigued how one SEO company can manage hundreds websites.
I got an email asking me if I accept guest posts and offered me to pay for them. I replied that guest posts are not suitable for a PERSONAL website where every article is written by me, instead I can offer them banner ad / link within existing articles, and I asked them what website he have to link it. I realized that they do not have any specific website, but instead put my website on a database of websites that does accept guest posts, with their price. A month later, they emailed me again sending and article and PAID ME for posting it.
In May 2018 I got an email asking me to post a link to ArchDaily.com while my website already had a link to this website placed from personal interest. I was confused especially when he offered me $60/link to post 3 more links. I though that is a JOKE, I wanted to ask friends what they think about this and I forgot to reply him, I replied after 4 days, he didn’t replied anymore. Lost a great offer.
Over next few months I got filled with emails asking if I accept guest posts or I can add links to their websites, some people gave me articles in attempt to “contribute” to my website, without paying anything, but within 1 year 5 people PAID ME for guest posts or links in existing posts, usually $50 for each website linked.
One has accidentally forwarded me whole email communication with the customer paying for links, allowing me to read that he was going to pay some website and suddenly the SEO company changed words saying that article has been published on my website. This is how I was paid for a guest post about a musician, off-topic for my real estate website.
Note: doing this kind of link building excessively can trigger Penguin penalty and have their website removed from Google search results.
CAD design outsourcing SPAM from India
Email spam marketing is NOT limited to web designers. I also received SPAM emails from India promoting CAD design services, I figured out that these people actually visited my website.
For example: a spammer probably searching “floor plans” on Google found main page (www.teoalida.com) and saw numerous floor plans from Singapore, then clicked Contact page, and sent me email saying that they offer 2D and 3D floorplan conversion service using SketchUp. He did not opened other pages to see that I offering same service at much better quality, using AutoCAD.
I replied like this:
I will never hire a designer using that SHIT called SketchUp. You sure don’t need an AutoCAD designer to do better quality floor plans and 3D models for your customers? See my AutoCAD works /design/hdbflats/ and /design/houseplans/
My location is Dhaka, Bangladesh. where my resources are working for less than $5/hr. Im sure that i will never able to hire you.
After going though your site and feedback from others, i have understood that, i need to start developing AutoCAD 3D team.
Thanks a lot. feeling lucky to have multiple replies from an expert guy like you.
There are also AutoCAD design companies that do spamming looking for customers. Several people contacted me via my website’s live chat instead of email, I though that they are architects who saw my message that I am hiring architects for partnership, but after a little talk with him I realized that they only do paper to CAD conversions or 2D to 3D conversios, they do not make floor plans from imagination as I do.
(7:40:20 PM) *** Visitor has joined the chat ***
(7:40:20 PM) Visitor: Good evening..I’m Ankit from India
(7:40:39 PM) *** Teoalida has joined the chat ***
(7:40:42 PM) Teoalida: what’s up
(7:41:22 PM) Visitor: we are AutoCAD professional looking for drafting work.
(7:41:48 PM) Visitor: Do you outsource your work?
(7:42:19 PM) Teoalida: I can outsource
(7:42:25 PM) Teoalida: show me a drawing made by you
(7:42:58 PM) Visitor: Can you please provide your mail id
(7:43:49 PM) Teoalida: you are in Contact page and still asking for email? what’s wrong
(7:44:27 PM) Visitor: sorry.
(7:45:25 PM) Teoalida: BTW, I have a partner in Philippines which I am currently outsourcing to… but he is expensive and often busy with bigger projects and don’t have time for me
(7:48:26 PM) Visitor: Please update your mail
(7:49:50 PM) Teoalida: got email
(7:49:59 PM) Teoalida: OMG… you’re great, what software you used for these 3D?
(7:50:49 PM) Visitor: 3Dmax
(7:51:30 PM) Visitor: at present we are giving priority to 2D drafting
(7:53:24 PM) Teoalida: some of your plans looks similar with those seen in UK websites
(7:54:13 PM) Visitor: Yeah, we do regualar job for UK clients.
(7:54:44 PM) Teoalida: I wonder if these plans seen on UK websites were made by you, or you just learned to do in same way with them
(7:55:47 PM) Visitor: we have few clients in London to whom we provide floor plan service.
(7:56:36 PM) Visitor: Do you have similar job?
(7:56:44 PM) Teoalida: BUT….
(7:57:07 PM) Teoalida: in the way you addressed me initially I though that you’re an architect who want to work for me
(7:57:28 PM) Teoalida: now I see that you’re a big company with a variety of services and not focusing on architecture
(7:57:59 PM) Visitor: we also do architectuaral drafting.
(7:58:40 PM) Teoalida: let’s say a 200 sqm 4-bedroom house… are you able to do floor plans, elevations, sections, structural, electrical and plumbing drawings? and at what price?
(7:59:26 PM) Visitor: We normally do conversion project
How to stop email SPAM from India
The general rule: DO NOT post your email in plain format (email@example.com), robots pick it regardless if it is clickable or not, instead you can:
- Do not post the email at all, use a Contact form (on your website).
- Write the email as “name_at_example_dot_com” (no longer reliable, bots learned to find such emails too).
- Write the email in an image uploaded on Photobucket and post the image.
- Buy WHOIS privacy, some spammers target newly registered domains hoping that they need webdesign services. I heard of people who registered a domain and immediately got few dozens emails in few days.
Note: if the email address was displayed on website for long time, and you protect it today, you will still get SPAM emails because it has been included in many spam lists. Make a new email address if possible. Above rules protect you from automated spam only. If you are in webdesign industry, you are likely to get manual spam. Some web developers informed me that they get SPAM messages from India via their Contact form, Facebook, LinkedIn, as well as phone calls.
On the plain, unprotected emails, you may get other types of SPAM:
- Promotional emails advertising groceries, travel agencies, pharmacy, drugs, casinos, adult websites, etc.
- Chinese manufacturers trying to sell you various products. Their marketing is very bad targeted, I have a website about real estate and I often get emails trying to sell me construction materials for buildings, furniture, bearings, car parts, led display, office paper, etc, sometimes written in chinese.
- Domain name scams: a chinese company is trying to register yourdomain.cn which is similar with yourdomain.com, so they offer you to register yourself yourdomain.cn and dozens of other domains before someone else will register. NEVER reply to such emails. My article: SCAM alert for web owners, see also Wikipedia article and another article.
How I deal with Indian spammers & FUNNY cases
Note that I am fan of DO IT YOURSELF. As teoalida.com is a PERSONAL website, I don’t accept professional help from others, I accept only suggestions and do all the work myself. My web building knowledge is not at professional level, but I prefer to learn instead of being dependent by professionals.
If you SPAM our emails, expect to get replies from people NOT interested in your services, students or owners of non-profit websites, or who like wasting your time (LIKE ME!).
I occasionally replied to spammers acting like a customer looking for help. Half of them never reply, once I received a second email “We did not heard from you“. So what is the point of spamming potential customers? Conclusion: so many people reply at their emails, probably bullshit replies, and they do not have time to read all, and reply to potential customers.
I also send them often funny and short replies, sometimes swearing them, sometimes slightly serious.
From first email I warn them that “I am NOT interested in outsourcing but if you have any suggestions for my website, feel free to speak!“, despite of warning that I am NOT interested, they still ask me for Google Talk and Skype ID, as well as phone number, etc. As I read in various forums, some people were repeatedly disturbed via phone by Indian SEO companies, speaking like this “Hi, we analysed your website and seems that its ranking in Google is dropping, you have broken links on your website, you have W3C errors, you are losing potential customers, blah blah… We are there to help you! Are you 100% sure that you don’t need our SEO services? For only 199$/month we guarantee you #1 place in Google!!!“. This is very AGGRESSIVE way to turn people into their customers.
If they are friendly enough to ask for my Google Talk and Skype ID, insisting to have a chat with me, I engage them in friendly talk, asking how to, ideas for my website, most of them do not answer my questions and insist to let my website on their hands. But few times I managed to learn new SEO strategies and few useful advice, which I applied to my website myself instead of hiring them. Once I got a very detailed report in PDF format, listing things that were done good and things that need fix or improvement, offering me to fix all the problems for several hundred $.
Sooner or later they realize that I am NOT going to pay, they stop replying at my emails, they block me on Skype, etc. But guess what… they SPAM me again with their original email offer!
“Greetings! My name is (…) from a reputed leading SEO company based in India. We provide….”
“If you are ashamed to tell us the name of your “leading company” in your first email, you can as well don’t tell that you are from India! Especially on freelance websites, Indians suffer from bad reputation for LOW price but VERY LOW quality.
and BTW, a “leading company” would NOT try to get customers in this way, by spamming emails!”
More funny replies written by me:
“This is the 10th SEO services email received this week. I can hire 1 SEO company, not 10 different SEO companies every week, sorry!”
“This is the 10th SEO promotional email received this week. If I was in need for SEO services I would have hired one already.”
“One of my friends have hired a SEO company from India, his traffic increased with 20% during first month but second month he lost 80% of traffic being penalized by Google Penguin due to link building done by that so-called SEO expert… so I am NOT interested in your fucking ANTI-SEO services.”
“Thanks for contacting, I NEED YOUR HELP regarding 1 single problem: how to display my email on website to protect it from being crawled by fucking spammers like YOU!”
“Fuck off, your employees / workmates are fucking SPAMMERS. I have got exactly same fucking message from another 2 email addresses. I already replied once that I am NOT interested in your FUCKING SERVICES.”
“Spammers SUCKS, if you want customers, make yourself a website and we will contact you!” (if the email did not contained any URL of their company and also did not specified that he visited “my website”)
How to TROLL / ANNOY the Indian spammers
- Make a free email address on Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, that sounds like a company name but does not contain your real company name.
- Make a spam-bait email address, like firstname.lastname@example.org and put it on your website in plain HTML code with white text (I really collect lots of indian emails on this email address, being posted there in plain format).
- Make a forwarder from spam-bait address to the Gmail / Hotmail / Yahoo address.
- Once you receive SPAM, reply from the Gmail / Hotmail / Yahoo address, because certain spammers may try to spam even more the email addresses where they received reply from, also may sell email lists to other spammers. Using your domain name email address to reply is risky to have them visiting your website and look for other email addresses to spam them as well (protecting email with images won’t help).
- When reply, say “I am really interested, can you please tell me more details?” or “We are a startup / we have a SMALL budget” but in the same time mention a BIG sum of 4-5 digits in USD / EUR.
- Request for examples of their work, names of their proposed development team, also their data security and legal compliance people, and as many other details is possible.
- When they ask you to describe what is your project about, you can say that you are making a community website where people can share information and build a database of companies using spammy marketing strategies to generate leads and/or companies that people had bad experiences with, so future people can avoid them. Some spammers are enough idiot and desperate to get work to do, that will still offer to help you, not realizing that you’re pranking / wasting their time.
- Continue conversation asking as many questions you can that will require elaborate answers from spammers.
- Ask for details of their Finance contact (“for the paperwork, so we can pay you afterwards“).
- When you’ve had enough FUN, ask “one last thing for the paperwork. I’ve lost track, can you just remind me how we initially got in touch?“.
- Whether they answer or not, go back and say that your procurement team has looked at your proposal and pointed out that the contact was initiated by a SPAM email, and that no reputable company would ever deal with spammers. Thank them for the Finance details and say “I’m going to invoice them for wasted time and resources“.
- Log in PayPal and click Request payment or Create an invoice. Out of the hundreds spammers, you may find few stupid enough to actually PAY YOU!
- Add that you have been fired for encouraging spammers, contrary to company rules, and wasting everybody’s time. They will probably reply sorry to hear that, but could still use their services!
You can create a new Gmail / Hotmail / Yahoo address and change email forwarder to the new address. New spam emails will come to the new address, and you can track whenever the spammers you talked with, have shared your email address with other spammers.
Let’s hope that if we all do this in mass, the fucking Indians will realize that spamming emails will not bring many real customers but mostly time-wasters, and discourage them to SPAM whole world again.
Links to sites about spammers
– https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35291?hl=en – Google warn us: “Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue” and “No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google“.
https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/indian-website-design-scam-beware-paul-miller/ someone who refused to work with an Indian SEO company, they started posting bad reviews about his business to revenge
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