Thursday, May 7, 2020


What Is SEO / Search Engine Optimization?
People send me sincere e-mails asking me to put links in my blog.  By "people" I mean bots, and by "links" I mean ads.

In the mail today, several e-mails from "readers" imploring me to put links in my blog.  One "reader" says he likes my posting about Western Union scams, but it needs to have a link in it about the new styles of Hajibs that are now available!  What Muslim veil-wear has to do with Western Union, I do not know.

This one is typical:

Something's missing from your article on
Hello Robert,
I read your article on, where you mentioned a Google Analytics related article [article I never mentioned]. As I'm in the beginning stages of getting my recipe blog up and running (stay tuned!), I found it rather insightful. 
Recently, I also came across this tutorial on Google Analytics [article that is of no use to me] 
This guide has actually been super useful in helping me get my head around all of the complexities of Google Analytics when setting up my own blog, which is why I believe your users will enjoy it, too, if you share it on your page. 
All the best,

Note that the cite to the "article" is just a day page, not an article site.   There is nothing really related to Google Analytics, and the article she wants me to link to is a commercial site.

I get these about 2-3 times a week, it seems.   At one time, they seemed to be genuine e-mails from people, but lately they are bots, and use a formula like this:
Dear [NAME]: 
I really enjoyed your [BLOGNAME] particularly the article [RANDOM BLOG LINK].  
I was thinking your readers might find the information at [UNRELATED BLOG OR SITE] and you may want to include that link in your blog. 
I guess if you send out a bot like this to thousands or millions of bloggers, some of them might bite on it, and your link gets tossed around.  Not only does this generate hits for their blog or site, it pushes them up the list on the Search Engine - SEO or "Search Engine Optimization".   Google's search engine is actually pretty primitive and easy to spoof.   Early on, they decided that any link that is mentioned on other pages must be more "relevant" than other links.  After all, if other people are hyper-linking to it, it must be good, right?

Well, it didn't take long for folks to realize this and use this as an SEO technique.   Put up web pages with your link on it, wait for Google to "crawl" those pages, and count up the links.   Google has tried to thwart this by discounting junk links designed to SEO, hence the effort to get useful idiots to include links on their pages.

Just a thought for you haters out there - every time you put a link to my blog on Facebook or your hate-chat site, saying "Gee, this Bob Bell gut is a total asshole - look what he wrote here!" you actually are driving my blog up the search engine hierarchy.

Not that I want that.  I could care less if 1 person read this or 100.  I write for me, and me alone.

What is interesting about this is how it illustrates how much of what we read and view is spoofed.   We think we are "finding" things on the Internet, when in fact, we are being lead down a carefully groomed garden path.

And if done right, you'll never know you were manipulated.  It is like Disney, who are genius as this.  You get off a ride and look around and say, "Hey, look at that over there!  That looks interesting!" and your spouse says, "yes, and there is a restroom next to it, let's go!"   But of course, that was all by design.  You think you are wandering around Disney, "finding" things to do, but actually are following a pretty well-beaten path they have made for you.   It is genius, as it keeps people from just milling about, without them feeling like they are in a perpetual line.

We are fooled most of the time, and fail to realize it.   And that's probably a good thing, too!

UPDATE:  Not only do these bots send these e-mails, they send "follow-up" e-mails a week or so later - sounding so personal, too!  Here is an example from the Hijab lady:
Hi Robert, 
I understand you are a busy person and your time is valuable but did you have some time to look at my previous email? (see below).

I’d love to collaborate with you!

Many Thanks,
Sarah Akmed
Executive Assistant

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Sarah Akmed
Date: Tue, May 5, 2020 at 1:50 PM
Subject: Your Article on Living Stingy
To: <>

Hi Robert,
I saw your article on Living Stingy: Western Union Scams here: 
The resource in the article you are linking to about Hijab types is out of date and not very comprehensive. 
There is a much more thorough and up to date article with detailed info on Hijab types at our website here: 
[link deleted] 
Would you consider using and linking to this resource instead in your article? 
Sarah Akmed
Executive Assistant
Sure, Sarah - a link to a website about Muslim veils is relevant to my posting about Western Union!