The sheer giddy brio of it. The email came breezing into my inbox, purporting to tell me the ten reasons my website was not performing well. So far, so ordinary. But here's the twist; the website in question was retired over three years ago.
Given that it is part of recent history, and that there is a new website doing much the same thing, the old domain name is still very much owned and earning its keep, deep links carefully redirecting to new content on the new site, the old world seamlessly subsumed into the foundations of the new. So the domain name has an owner and that'll have an owner email address attached, which is doubtless how I got on the list. But why was it sent to me for this web address and no other*?
I think I may have fallen victim to an algorithm. One which looked for owners of websites that seem not to be doing too well on google. And of course it's not going to be doing well on Google; all it's doing is sending all the old readers to the new domain name.
Google does know, of course. In fact, after the last redesign (with a little work from the developers and, er, me setting up a hundred or so redirects) Google had me showing a good face on the relevant terms within 48 hours. It was breathtaking. And a human check would quickly identify the clear data footprint of several sites knocked together, their domain names steadily, one by one, pointing to the survivor site as the others winked out one by one, too specialised or duplicatory to survive the rationalising web.
The content of the email was both fretfully pushy and link-farm generic, a few technical SEO terms thrown in, all wrapped up in a phishy sort of chumminess. The complete lack of company name and multiple other red flags would weed out all but the most busy and naive. I particularly liked the note that they had a host of "ethical" techniques - hinting none-too-subtly that there might also be unethical services available. It assumed I was working in sales, which is really just the business equivalent of saying "my dearest friend".
I batted it out of the joint mailbox at speed rather than reporting it back to the spam filter which should have caught it in the first place. Regretting that now. Hopefully many of the other people on the list reported properly.
*My email address/es is/are linked to ?maybe eight? web addresses. I probably forgot a few.