A frequently-to-be-repeated offer

Anybody who runs a blog with more than one post a year will receive unsolicited offers of "content". I get them all the time.

It's a distinct category of spam. They offer you a "free" blog-post worth of text, and often also a small amount of money, in return for you publishing said text, a few words in which link to some Web site the contributor specifies.

This one's a little more interesting than most.

From: Robert Lobitz <r.lobitz@kasacapitalmarketing.com>

[This is not a good sign. That e-mail address is the one on my dansdata.com domain registration; it's not my actual Dan's Data contact address, dan@dansdata.com, that anybody who visited the actual site could find. Mail to domain-registration addresses is sort of like when a phone caller starts out by asking if he's speaking to Mr or Mrs surname-of-partner-to-whom-you-are-not-married.]

Date: Thu, 30 Aug 2012 12:49:25 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: dansdata.com Article


I would like to start by saying that I was thrilled to find dansdata.com - it's not everyday I find a website of this caliber!

[Whenever someone cold-e-mails me saying something like this, I Google what they just said and, usually, find a few thousand copies of the same text, making clear that they not only actually do find a site "of this caliber" every day, but may find one approximately every minute. This time, though, there were only a couple of hits. So, good so far!]

I am interested in having one of my unique and interesting to read articles

[Yeah! Sell it, baby!]

published on dansdata.com. In return, all I ask for is that you let me include a link to my site HIDXenonHeadlights.com from within the article --- I would be willing to offer a one-time monetary contribution as well. Please let me know if this sounds like something you'd be interested in.

Public Relations
KASA Capital

As I write this, the first hit in a Google search for this gentleman's alleged name is an article called "A Brave New Reality: Changing the Bird Cages of the World"

I cannot, in all honesty, say that that article is truly "interesting to read". It's more like "first-year university student trying to make it to the specified page count when he didn't do the reading, has a killer hangover, and has to turn in the paper in one hour".

The "Brave New Reality" article is also almost entirely free of any actual information. The world must change, and the world changes, and we should change the world, apparently. But it does at least seem to be pretty close to "unique", and not sprayed all over umpteen other blogs that also accepted the "one-time monetary contribution".

(To see if a given chunk of text is a "proper" article and not a sort of journalistic copypasta, take a distinctive string from the article - in this case, let's use the rather odd "Among my pursuits and businesses are the caring of birds as protected pets" - and search for that. [Spelling errors make these searches a lot easier.] Your typical spam-article, scam e-mail or bullshit Wikipedia reprint sold on eBay will have a zillion hits. As I write this, though, the "Brave New Reality" article is only published, as opposed to discussed, on two sites, culturechange.org and evolvingsustainability.com. The latter site is currently down, and may belong to the same guy as the first site anyway.)

The real purpose of "Brave New Reality" is, of course, not to actually inform or entertain. It's to link to a site and get it some Google-juice. In this case, that site is BirdCages.net. Hence the rather stretched metaphor.

Hit two for Robert Lobitz's name is "Child-proofing the Bedroom". Again, it's plainly been written by someone who doesn't have much writing skill, and it doesn't really say very much, but it is unique to the site it's on. And it gets its link in, too, this time to BunkBeds.net, which unsurprisingly looks very much like BirdCages.net.

Those two sites are both subtitled "A KASA Store". KASA Capital are strangely reticent about how many of these sites there are in their "diverse network of e-commerce entities", but I think it's safe to say there are a lot of them. They seem to be kosher online shops, too; no discount Viagra or fake watches.

I wanted to see just how many of these sites there are. It took me a moment to find something to search for that was distinctive to sites following the BirdCages.net/BunkBeds.net template, but I managed it by searching for a couple of strings of the hours their customer-service phone line is open.

Motorcycle fairings, medical scrubs, baby changing stations, martial arts supplies, silk flowers, caviar, boxing bags, radio-controlled planes, bike carriers, easels... if I'm counting right, there are 20 KASA sites found by the above search. If they've got more than one template, they could have a lot more than twenty sites.

I think it's safe to say that KASA are not experts on train horns, bar stools, poker chips, fish tanks and so on. I would, in fact, bet good money that they're just drop-shippers, who never even see the products they sell. Buy at wholesale, sell at retail, send goods straight from the wholesaler to the customer, spend the rest of your day on the golf course.

(The contact-hours search didn't find HIDXenonHeadlights.com, the site the article Robert was offering me would have to link to, because HIDXenonHeadlights.com has a different template. Searching for a string from that site's contact page found a few more KASA sites.)

So as far as KASA's actual retail business goes, they may not be the best place to buy any of the numerous things they sell, but I see no reason to suppose they'll take your money and run.

This still doesn't make it a good idea for blog-owners to take link-buyers like KASA up on their offers, though.

For a start, all you get, besides however much money they offer, is this worthless fluff-content that only exists to link to some site that frequently has nothing to do with the site on which the fluff appears.

More importantly, if Google notice you're engaging in link-buying schemes - or have been so deeply idiotic as to allow links to link-buyers' sites to appear on your site for free - they'll punish you by reducing your site's PageRank, as well as that of the link-buyers themselves. Serious offenders can be erased from Google altogether until they perform suitable penance.

So I'm sorry, Robert, but unless the "one-time monetary contribution" is in excess of a hundred thousand dollars, I'm afraid I'll have to turn down your offer.

And congratulations: You're in a pretty lousy business, but you could be worse!

One Response to “A frequently-to-be-repeated offer”

  1. speedweasel Says:

    Someone should tell that guy a preposition is not something you end a sentence with.

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