Beware False Link Flattery

Venus Fly Trap

If you run a blog, you may have noticed a rash of ‘trackbacks’ or ‘pingbacks’ recently. These are articles on other blogs or websites that link to your posts. When you follow the link to the site linking to you, you may find that your link doesn’t appear within the body of the article at all. In fact you can’t even find it on the page.

If you look closely, you may find a ‘Mouse here for Related Links’, as pictured. Your link is hidden under there. A process, likely automated, has found your post, amongst several others, and is linking to it, in the hope that you will Approve the Pingback and in so doing, create a link from your article to theirs. Of course the link on your article is likely to appear visibly on the page to readers and without a rel=nofollow tag (links like this don’t pass ‘google juice’.

It’s a trap!

Venus Fly TrapThese hidden related links are discounted by search engines because of the rel=nofollow and almost certainly ignored by humans, because they’re not easily found on the page. Don’t fall into the trap of approving any trackbacks or pingbacks without first checking out whether you are being linked to in a meaningful way rather than a spammy attempt like this to dupe you into building someone else’s backlink profile for them. Until spam prevention filters designed to weed out spammy comments (such as Akismet) can also detect things like this, keep your eyes open!

Image Credit: Venus Fly Trap image by BotheredByBees, via Creative Commons on Flickr.

3 thoughts on “Beware False Link Flattery”

  1. I started getting a ton of these on my website and could not figure where the heck they were from. I figure that WP must have some kind of tool that did this and in fact, I thought at one point it might even help me out, but alas it is not true. 

    Thanks for the heads up! 

  2. Yes I fell for this one! Lnks to my posts were on the other site but they were included in a list to 10 articles only visible with a mouse over.  I’m going to delete them right now – thanks for letting me know about it.

    Do you know what plugin (or other) is used to do this?  Maybe I should try it myself?  Just kidding.

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