SEO Email: The Digital Spiders

This is one in a series of posts reviewing and looking at how some of the SEO companies which use bulk emails/spam with ‘we can help your terrible site’ type emails really can (and actually mostly can’t!) help your site.

Read some simple explanations of some of the SEO terms used on this post…


This time the spam came in via the contact form on my Christmas site. The subject on the form was “Re: Website Seo” but as this is a contact form, it couldn’t have been a reply, so the ‘re’ makes no sense whatsoever (but SEO spammers do this to try and make you think you might have had dealings with them in the past).

It was from a Sanjeev who said he was in the USA in the form field “Country you’re from” (which I use to help me answer people’s questions about Christmas) although he contradicted this within one sentence of the spam.

Sanjeev was using an @promote-website.com email – this appears to have been recently set-up to spam people from – more on this below. The text of the email went:

Hi,
We are an India-based SEM & Web Development company. We are a team of 100+ IT professionals with expertise in:
Search Engine Marketing:
Keyword Research & Analysis
Web Competition Research & Analysis
On-page SEO
Off-page SEO
Local SEO
Content Marketing
Backlinks Acquisition

We’d be happy to send you WEBSITE AUDIT REPORT our PRICING & PACKAGES details if you’d like to assess our work.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Warm Regards,
Sanjeev [name removed for privacy]

Me being me, I replied!

Hi,

Yes, please send me the audit report!

Thanks,

James

A day later, I got a reply from Sanjeev, this time using an @googletrackers.com email (that domain is their old one, more below). It went:

Hi James,

My name is Sanjeev [name removed for privacy]. I am the Marketing Manager with The Digital Spiders. Please visit www.thedigitalspiders.com for more details on us.
Thank you for the opportunity to provide you with a quotation for the search engine campaign proposed by us for your website as per your request.

Attached is the audit report for this website https://www.whychristmas.com/ .

Below is the complete proposal for you to review which will answer all your queries like:

1- What do we do?

2- Why The Digital Spiders?

3- What is the Cost?

4- What services do you get?

Recent surveys shows that 95% of internet users use search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing to find any service/product/information and you might be losing on those potential clients unless your site appears on top pages of search engines. SEO is a long term solution to promote your website organically and bring you the online business.

1- What do we do –

Our SEO program helps you identifying the compatibility issues and make sure that your website is SEO friendly. We can place your website on the top of all search engines and specially Google. Here are few steps that we follow to promote your website:

a) Keyword’s Analysis

b) Competitor’s Analysis

c) SEO Analysis report

d) On page optimization

e) Off page optimization

f) Content writing

We will promote your website in complete Geographical area (Local, National or Global) that you want to target and you will start getting the desired traffic automatically. We will place your website on the top page of Google on your desired keywords to bring you good traffic and great business. If you have a list of keywords ready then you can send them to us otherwise our experts at The Digital Spiders can help you selecting the keywords which are good for your business.

2- Why The Digital Spiders-

Despite the fact that there are lots of other SEO companies, we can give you few good reasons to give us a try:

a) The Digital Spiders team is very professional and you will always find us available to answer all your queries. Also we don’t bind you in any sort of contract which completely makes us responsible to perform and convince you to stay with us.

b) You will have one personal project manager assigned who will always be available to answer any questions/query you might have and will also be responsible to send you the reports on time.

c) You will receive monthly ranking reports to check and compare results which will keep you informed about your website’s improvement.

d) We do manual submissions which results in Permanent Quality Back links, so that you can have your potential traffic on your prime pages and ultimately your ROI will Increase.

e) The complete transparency of the work we do and results we show makes us better than other SEO companies and that will also provoke you to stay with us for a long time.

3- What is the Cost??? ( INCLUDE OFF PAGE AND ON PAGE )

You will find us very cost effective and competitive in rates in comparison to other SEO companies. Below is the list of the packages and services you will get . (NO CONTRACT)

[There was a very large table in here, which broke the email layout and shifted all the below to the right, so I couldn’t actually see it at first – oops! The costs ranged from $110 for 10 keywords to $400 for 40 keywords a month!]

Results

Since there are search engines tend to index or re-index the optimized site in 4-12 weeks, however, there are search engines like Google that help your website to crawl more frequently and reach higher than ever before. You can expect to see results starting to appear right in front of you after 4-6 weeks of submission from our side. Indexing and re-indexing tends to take time to settle down but they usually stabilize after two months.

In the meanwhile, your traffic rises continuously since we will make your website visible more and more on the search engine index and locate more of your website’s optimized pages.

Most of your questions should be answered within the proposal, but don’t hesitate to let me know if you need any more information.

Please give us a go and I will make sure that you don’t regret your decision by delivering good expected results in first quarter trial. We are looking for endless relationship with you. And you will always get the best quality work from us.

Thanks & Regards,

Sanjeev [name removed for privacy]

[contact removed for privacy]

The information in this email is confidential and may be legally privileged. It is intended for the use of the addressee only. If you are not the addressee you must not use, copy or disclose the information contained in it. If you have received it in error please delete it, destroy any hard copies you may have made and immediately notify the sender

Well, the email was for me (the addressee) and I’m happy to disclose it!!!

There was no attachment on the email… So I asked for it.

Hi Sanjeev,

Thanks for this but it doesn’t look like the audit report was attached!

James

A day later I got an email from Sanjeev with the attachment. At this point, I thought I’d ask Sanjeev why he thinks it’s ok to spam people – and why his site is so slow (as we’ll see below).

Hi Sanjeev,

I see you’ve been in business for many years. So I take it that you’re aware of anti-spam and privacy legislation around the world.

Please can you tell me why you think it’s ok to spam someone’s contact form – breaking multiple international anti-spam laws, such as CAN-SPAM in the USA and PECR in the UK (there are similar laws in other countries including Canada, Australia and Singapore).

Do you think it’s ok to spam people to get business?

Please can you also tell me why I should trust an SEO company which has one of the worse rankings on Google’s Lighthouse that I’ve ever seen?

I see you used SEOptimer for your report. Well, your site gets a much worse score than my site: https://www.seoptimer.com/www.thedigitalspiders.com

My site gets an A+ for performance, your site gets an F.

Please do not spam me again.

Thanks.

I’ve not heard back after that email. It’s funny how SEO spammers don’t like answering questions…


Their Report & Recommendations

Like some other SEO spammers I’ve come across, The Digital Spiders ‘report’ came from an automatic SEO site checker at https://www.seoptimer.com/

However the report they sent has different values as to when I ran my site through the tool online. I guess this is because they’re using a custom version where they can choose what items are tested…

Both their report and the web version give my site a ‘B+’ (they get a D). The tool has different sections and these are where the score differences come from. I’ll list them below. With the score from the PDF report, the online score and the score they get.

  • On-Page SEO: PDF = A-; Online = A-; Them = D;
  • Links: PDF = A-; Online = F; Them = A+;
  • Usability: PDF = F; Online = C+; Them = C+;
  • Performance: PDF = A+; Online = A+; Them = F;
  • Social: PDF = A-; Online = C+; Them = D;

There are a couple of bits of oddness there. On the Links, on the PDF, my site gets an A- but an F online! This is because with the PDF it’s taking into account the large number of backlinks my site has – which the online only version doesn’t calculate. That seems a VERY strange way to calculate that online score as backlinks are pretty important to SEO!

Similarly, for Usability, the PDF gives me an F but online it’s a C+. On the PDF it only lists two items the site’s ‘Core Web Vitals’ (more on these below) and whether you’ve got a ‘plain text’ emails on the site (which could be got by spam bots). But online there are many other tests in this category (which my site all passes). So this is slightly misleading…

Looking at the site’s speed takes us into those ‘Core Web Vitals’. These are a new(ish) way that Google is using to see how fast pages load. To find out more about what these are and mean, check out this good post on Core Web Vitals on moz.com (a good SEO site!).

On SEOpimer, it ‘fails’ my site. However, that’s really not correct.

The Digital Spiders’s site get a ‘nothing’ on SEOpimer as the site isn’t popular enough to have enough visits from Google to get a full Core Webs ‘score’. (But if it did, it would seriously fail…)

That fact that my site gets an A+ for ‘Performance’ on SEOpimer, when The Digital Spiders’s site gets an F shows that it’s far from simple!

Using Google’s Lighthouse tool (which anyone can use for free) you can get more information on the Core Web Vitals, as well as scores for things as above – my site gets in the high 90s for ‘Performance’, their site gets around 20 or below (more on this below).

On ‘desktop’ my site passes with flying colours across the Core Web Vitals (I can see this on Google’s Search Console). And on Mobile (which is what Lighthouse and SEOpimer use) some pages ‘pass’ and others get a ‘medium’.

On the ‘mediums’, my site ‘passes’ (very well) on the ‘Largest Contentful Paint’ (how big/long the biggest element on a page is) and ‘First Input Delay’ (how fast the page initial loads). The ‘mediums’ I get are for ‘Cumulative Layout Shift’ (how much things move around when loading). It’s giving me 60/100 on this element on the home page. (The others get 100/100 on the home page!)

So really my site gets a ‘low pass’ rather than a straight up ‘fail’.

But when we look at The Digital Spiders’s site, it’s a very different story!

Their site is really not good on both desktop and mobile for Core Web Vitals! (Well they get a pass on Cumulative Layout Shift but that’s only because their page takes so long to load that by the time it has there’s nothing left to move!)

They get 1/100 for ‘Largest Contentful Paint’ and 7/100 for ‘First Input Delay’ (I get 100/100 for these).

That’s really pretty appalling. Yet an SEO spammer wants to tell me how to make my site faster, when they can’t the very basics of speed optimisation done on their own site…! We’ll look at more about this below.

Anyway, the report also had some other things my site ‘had errors’ for. Let’s look at those…

You have a title tag, but ideally it should be shortened to between 10 and 70 characters (including spaces).
Yes the home page’s meta title is a bit long at 104 characters. However, the word Christmas is in the first 60 characters three times! The length is primarily what’s shown on search results, so ideally you want all of that to ‘show’, but being a bit long doesn’t really ‘hurt’ you as such.

Your page is not making use of multiple levels of Header Tags.
It is, it really is. It’s got a Heading 1 and four Heading 2s. All correctly used (and used throughout the site where appropriate). You don’t need a Heading 3 (or below) to magically have a good page for SEO. They can help. But it’s a bit misleading in how it’s worded.

Your page has a low volume of text content which search engines can interpret as ‘thin content’.
The home page of the site is actually one of the least entered pages via search engines (even though it’s normally one the first two pages of Google for just ‘Christmas’!). The site has LOTS of pages about Christmas, and that’s how most the vast majority of people actually enter the site using search engines. So this is not actually applicable in my case.

We could not detect an analytics tool installed on your page.
This is WRONG. I do use an analytics tool on the site. But it’s one that the auto scanner didn’t detect! (The analytics I use are also privacy friendly.)

Some of your link URLs do not appear friendly to humans or search engines.
Yes, there are some underscores in some of the URLs on my site. It’s now thought that hyphens in URLs are better. But when I created the site back in 2000, the reverse was thought to be the correct thing to do! And anyway many of the pages with underscores in them are #1 on Google for their respective results out of several million results so they can’t be hurting the SEO much… So I’ll say this is ‘Not Applicable’.

Your page has failed Google’s Core Web Vitals assessment.
As we’ve seen above, there’s far more to the story that this statement would suggest! This is over simplification at best.

No associated Instagram profile found linked on your page.
Instagram is inappropriate for my site’s content, thus I don’t have an Instagram account! Again, this is ‘Not Applicable’.

So as we can see, using an auto SEO scanner, like SEOptimer, *can* help and tell you things about a site, but it’s by no means the only thing you can do as it can have ‘issues’ that simply aren’t there in reality!

If you’re interested, you can see my site’s full ‘review’ on SEOptimer here, and The Digital Spiders’s site on SEOptimer here!


Looking at Their Site

With SEO spammers, I also like to look at their sites, to see if they practice what they preach (I mean would you trust a plumber who had leaking and rusty pipes all over their own house?!); and also to compare their site with a site they say they can help…

Their site is https://www.thedigitalspiders.com/

For HTML Validation, my site has no errors. Their site has 102(!) errors and 77 warnings (that is pretty terrible). My Christmas site has no errors or warnings.

Using the ‘WAVE’ Accessibility Testing Tool, their site has 24 errors and 50 contrast errors. My site has no errors of either kind!

Using the Google Lighthouse speed test tool their site gets:

Performance: 18
Accessibility: 76
Best Practices: 73
SEO: 77

My site gets:

Performance: 99
Accessibility: 100
Best Practices: 100
SEO: 93

So my site is better across the board, and especially in ‘Performance’.

Looking more that their site, it doesn’t get much better…

There’s no meta description on the page. This is an SEO basic – yet so many SEO spammers don’t have it on their own site!

There are three Heading 1s on the home page – you should only have one.

When the site loads there’s a pop-up saying that ‘Google Trackers’ has become ‘The Digital Spiders’.

The home page is nearly 20mb in size!!! That’s utterly appalling.

Over 17mb of it are images. There are several screenshots of their clients which are over 5mb each. These were in the PNG format – which is completely the WRONG format for these type of images.

One of the things they say they’ll do on your site is ‘Page Speed Analysis’. But as we know, they’ve not bothered to do it on their own site…!

There’s a carousel with five logos of ‘clients’. Only non of them are real. They’re dummy icons which come with the theme they use…

But they’e got screenshots of ‘actual’ clients further down the page, so why put a bunch a fake logos on there (unless you either don’t know how to take them off or you want to try and make yourself look bigger than you are…)?

Further down the page is another carousel of five logos for ‘awards’ they’ve won. But three are just icons of sites you can add your site to (so not awards then), one is a cheesy bit of clip art (used on many an SEO spammers site) and two are award icons, only I can’t find any evidence on the sites that ‘awarded’ them that The Digital Spiders (or Google Trackers) won these awards.

There’s a ‘What our clients say’ section with three quotes. But I googled them and all of them are basically identical (apart from the business name being different) to testimonials on many other SEO sites (several of which are other SEO spammers I’ve dealt with before)!

Remember those HUGE screenshots of some of the client’s sites? Well, they’re in a ‘Featured Projects’ section. You can click on an image to make it bigger in a ‘lightbox’. Only if you do click, most of them are so huge that they actually make the page unusable as all you can see is a bit of a massive image. I’m not quite sure how they’ve managed to get this dome so badly. Most light boxes have things in them to stop really big images doing this…

I’m also not actually sure that they made all (or any of?!) these sites. Out of the six sites there are, two do look like their screenshots and they may have made these – but I can’t find any connection to them; one site looks fairly different to the screenshot; one is the screenshot of a demo of a WordPress theme (from a pretty big theme company); one is a clothing company using a theme from a large e-commerce platform; and the last also does look like it’s screenshot. HOWEVER, that last one (on the site and in the screenshot) has a ‘design by’ link for a large agency in New York!

So It would seem that some of these ‘Featured Projects’ certainly aren’t from/by The Digital Spiders…

They’ve got a blog on their site. Only it was last updated in February 2016 (so over 5 1/2 years ago). AND the posts are all nonsense/dummy half English/half Latin ones which come with the site’s theme. So they’ve not been bothered to sort that out either then.

There’s no privacy policy on the site. I’m not surprised, but I thought I’d still point it out.

On Sanjeev’s email he said that they’re in India and sure enough, on the site’s footer and contact page, there’s an address in Delhi.

However, I had a quick Google of ‘Google Trackers’ (the old name of the company) and found a business listing for them. But it said they were in New York. But we know they’re in Delhi (and always have been from looking on Sanjeev’s LinkedIn profile). So that’s, erm, interesting then.

And… on the initial comment form spam, Sanjeev entered the country he was from as the USA, although he them pasted his email which says he’s in India!

(I also found a listing for The Digital Spiders on a business directory for companies in The Bahamas, but it says in their listing that they’re in Delhi. So that’s odd to say the least…)

There are icons for their social accounts in the footer on the site. They do indeed have a Facebook page (which was created in 2013). There are also links to an Instagram account (which has NOTHING in it) and a Twitter account – which has been suspended for violating Twitter’s rules!

I also Google’s Sanjeev’s full name and ‘SEO’ and it come up with several results. Including some comment & contact form/guestbook spam – you know, just like he spammed my contact form. Their were two other domains he’d used on these, but the email addresses were similar in format to the one I got from him. So it seems that he’s really not bothered about spamming comment forms! (It could be that Sanjeev’s name is more common than I think, but hmmm, yeah…)

Remember I said that the initial spam from Sanjeev used a recently registered domain? Well that was promote-website.com was registered in May 2021.

Their ‘old’ domain was googletrackers.com (which I’m sure must be infringing Google’s trademark…) and was registered in February 2013. Sanjeev’s replies to me still came in to me using an account this domain.

Their current domain thedigitalspiders.com was registered in April 2021.

The other domains I found comment/contact spam from someone with the same full name as Sanjeev (and basically identical spam templates) were promote-my-website.co, googlemybusiness.co and website-on-top.com.


Conclusion

The Digital Spiders want to help with my site, when it seems that they don’t know many of the basics of SEO and how to setup a site correctly.

I always find it concerning when a company uses multiple domains – why would you need to?!

Someone with the same full name as Sanjeev really seems to like spamming contact and comment forms!

So if The Digital Spiders offers to help with you site, pressing the delete button might be a better option.

But as ever, the choice is yours…

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