I work for RBI in the inhouse SEO team and we recently received a email that was part of a link building campaign they had obviously scraped on of our large sites ICIS ( a Big Chemical And Energy Industry site) and found that we had linked to a university article on Bio fuels which had subsequently been taken down.
They then produced a page with similar information to the now 404 page and suggested that we could replace this broken link with their link which was on a car insurance site 🙂
From: XXXXX XXXXXX [mailto:XXXX.XXXXX17@gmail.com] Sent: 18 July 2012 12:43 To: Subject: Broken link on your page Hi , I came across your website and wanted to notify you about a broken link on your page in case you weren't aware of it. The link on http://www.icis.com/blogs/biofuels/archives/biodiesel which links to http://www.example.edu/p2/biodiesel/article_alge.html is no longer working. I've included a link to a useful page on biodiesel that you could replace the broken link with if you're interested in updating your site. Thanks for providing a great resource! Link: http://www.example.org/algae-solutions Best, XXXX
Certainly this link builder wins an award for Shear Chutzpah – this approach to link building is similar to a spear fishing attack where an email is targeted directly at a specific individual and tailored to the interests of the victim/mark – which is why I dubbed this a Spearlink attack.
Unfortunately the recipient immediately realised that this looked dodgy. An attack on a government site or one with less savvy staff this attack could have easily succeed.
Its also interesting that they used a blog and not an article on the main site maybe the rss feed for the mt blog was used – rather than a crawl of the main site.