Author Topic: Dubious email to be on the lookout for if you run a website  (Read 1681 times)

Bill Hiatt

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Dubious email to be on the lookout for if you run a website
« on: February 26, 2020, 05:25:21 AM »
I'm putting this up here because our websites are part of our marketing strategy. I couldn't see a more appropriate place, but if I missed one, please don't hesitate to move it.

I have several times received identically worded emails from different senders. Here's the text:

Dear Team at billhiatt.com,

Not sure if you knew this but your website billhiatt.com  has some problems that you might want to consider looking into. I spent 2-3 minutes looking around and found:

- It doesn't work properly on Mobile Phones, at all (which is how people browse the web these days).
- It doesn't adjust properly when you resize the screen (Google recommends RESPONSIVE Websites rather than ADAPTIVE)
- It's hard to read on larger displays
- The design looks really, really dated compared to some of your competitors.

I actually do web design as a living so I figured I'd reach out and let you know there's serious room for dead easy(and affordable) improvement. If you would like, I can send you some of my previous work samples.

I can develop the website on a more advanced platform at an affordable price. That price also includes making it complete mobile responsive which will support all modern devices including all ranges of screen sizes.

Is that something you'd be interested in?


The fact that supposedly different people are sending me the same email is the first red flag. However, most of the content is also dubious.

I've checked my site on multiple devices and just pulled it up on my phone to make sure. It works fine on mobile devices. (It's a little slower loading than I'd like sometimes, but so are a lot of popular sites.) On my PC, it functions correctly when I resize the screen. (I've used a responsive theme for years and just recently got an even more modern one.) On my screen (2560 by 1440), it's perfectly easy to read. I can't imagine a display large enough to be a problem. As for looking dated, well, who knows? But it's interesting that the email offers no examples of better ones from my "competitors." I doubt the person even looked at my site or has the slightest clue what it's like.

We all know to look with some suspicion on cold emails, though occasionally I've found decent new businesses that way. But this particular effort was so filled with red flags that I thought it worth drawing attention to. I could see someone who isn't used to running a website being taken in by it. Don't let people like this make you question yourself.


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Re: Dubious email to be on the lookout for if you run a website
« Reply #1 on: February 26, 2020, 06:21:48 AM »
I get spam offering such services quite frequently.  Especially fun are the times I get them for personal websites or sites that don't sell anything, and they claim my competitors outrank me or are easier to find or have better looking websites and I'm like, what competitors?

I doubt the person even looked at my site or has the slightest clue what it's like.

I'm pretty sure they just get lists of domain name owners and spam them with the same message.  Always fun when they claim they've looked at my site and the content of their message makes it very clear they never visited my site at all.
Mulder: "If you're distracted by fear of those around you, it keeps you from seeing the actions of those above."
The X-Files: "Blood"
 
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Bill Hiatt

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Re: Dubious email to be on the lookout for if you run a website
« Reply #2 on: February 26, 2020, 07:29:26 AM »
Yeah, that's doubtless it.

In this particular case, I'm struck by the reuse of the same text over and over by allegedly different people. Also telling is the fact that the sender is normally named differently from the name on the business email he or she is using to send. So it looks like the email is from John Smith, but the address is maryjanedoe@scam.com. Differing names like that in a business email is also a red flag.

The people I do think actually look at the website are people who want me to link to their content. They at least identify a particular blog post and then explain how their link would be a good addition. However, the structure is pretty form-letterish, like they send out the same basic email to a whole bunch of people and just change the title of the blog post. The funny thing is that my site doesn't get that much traffic. I can only imagine the volume of requests for sites that do.


Tickling the imagination one book at a time
Bill Hiatt | fiction website | Facebook author page |
 

Post-Crisis D

Re: Dubious email to be on the lookout for if you run a website
« Reply #3 on: February 26, 2020, 07:58:55 AM »
In this particular case, I'm struck by the reuse of the same text over and over by allegedly different people. Also telling is the fact that the sender is normally named differently from the name on the business email he or she is using to send. So it looks like the email is from John Smith, but the address is maryjanedoe@scam.com. Differing names like that in a business email is also a red flag.

You would think that, by now, spammers (or at least their software) would be smart enough to match their fictitious name with the eMail address.  Can't be that hard to do.

The people I do think actually look at the website are people who want me to link to their content. They at least identify a particular blog post and then explain how their link would be a good addition. However, the structure is pretty form-letterish, like they send out the same basic email to a whole bunch of people and just change the title of the blog post. The funny thing is that my site doesn't get that much traffic. I can only imagine the volume of requests for sites that do.

I continued to get those even after taking down all the pages on my site.  They'd ask for a link to their content and identify the page, except the page was no longer there.  So, either someone has a database of old pages or they find them in search engine caches or something.

Or I'd get ones telling me that some info/links on a ten year old page don't work or are out of date and how about linking to theirs?  Um, the page is ten years old; I'm not updating it now.
Mulder: "If you're distracted by fear of those around you, it keeps you from seeing the actions of those above."
The X-Files: "Blood"
 
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Re: Dubious email to be on the lookout for if you run a website
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2020, 03:35:49 PM »
If you use Google Search Console, there is an option to look at the mobile usability of the site. It'll point out any pages that don't resize properly. Using WordPress automatically gives you mobile resizing.

This tool is also good to detect any security issues that come up with Google crawls. It seems the latest fun thing hackers do is mess around with the cache pages using URL injections. So your page looks great on your website, but the cached page on Google has all these links to pharmaceuticals.

It also looks at performance and a lot of other things. Quite useful to use.