Managing a lot of websites, we see all sorts of link building techniques for SEO. Nowadays the vast majority of these are guest posts, either free or paid, then some form of link insertion either for broken links, additional resources or just paid.
Recently we have been inundated with emails adopting a new method (new to us at least) which aims to fraudulently persuade website owners to place a link on their website with claims that they have broken copyright policy for images used on the site.
The first time we saw this email, we panicked a little trying to confirm we had acquired the image properly.
Googling this issue didn’t show any other users experiencing it, but we suspect it is happening on a large scale and hopefully, this post will help.
The email comes through as:
Hi I hope you’re the right person for this.,
You are using my client’s image (attached below) in one of your articles [the URL] We’re glad that it’s of use to you 🙂
There’s no issue if you’ve bought this from our market partners such as Shutterstock, iStock, Getty Image, Pexels, Adobe, Pixabay, etc.,
However, if you don’t have the proper license for the image then we request you to provide image credits (clickable link) on your article. Or else this will be against the copyright policy.
Unfortunately, removing the image isn’t the solution since you have been using our image on your website for a while now.
Feel free to ask any questions that you may have.
When this email came in, we found it odd that they mentioned Pexels and Pixabay both of which are suppliers of free images under the creative commons licence. When we did a reverse image search we did, in fact, confirm the image was from Pexels, so replied confirming this.
But then it happened again, and we clocked on it was just spam. The second email was also for an image on Pexels/Pixabay. Another email came through to one of our clients, and this time it was for an image they were supplied by the manufacturer as part of a product so impossible that it was originally on Pexels and Pixabay.
The client emailed to ask what link they wanted and received a reply link back to a blog loosely related to smart home products that our clients’ post was based on. The link was not a photographers profile or a corporation it is just a cheap way to try and acquire links.
The URL the email came from is usmediahouse.com which is a domain that was created on 2019-01-02 and hosts a random mix of news and what appears to be guest posts. Interestingly they have a domain authority of 57 even though there are only 209 linking domains.
Link building via images has been a tried and test technique for years, but I would assume this falls well into the Black Hat territory and it will be interesting to see how frequent this form of link building is in the coming months. It is probably a well-known technique, but if you have been a victim of it, we hope this post has helped.
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