Whenever society encounters something as immense and powerful as the Internet, you can count on a few things happening – one of which being boundless, world-changing ideas catching fire and benefitting everyone who uses it, and then another sadder, darker occurrence where some bad apples try to take advantage of the mind-bending complexities of the world wide web to make some money.
It’s a sad truth, but a truth all the same.
As the Internet grows and adds more unbelievably beneficial features, so grows the number of scammers and other ne’er-do-wells looking to cash in on some unlucky person’s unfamiliarity with the intricacies of the Internet.
One common con that seems to commonly work its way into our lives here at Titan Web Marketing Solutions is the “domain registration” or “search engine registration” scam, and it looks a little something like this:
> Attention: Important Notice , DOMAIN SERVICE NOTICE
> Domain Name: (redacted)
> PART I: REVIEW NOTICE
> Attn: (redacted)
> As a courtesy to domain name holders, we are sending you this notification for your business Domain name search engine registration. This letter is to inform you that it’s time to send in your registration.
> Failure to complete your Domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may result in cancelation of this offer making it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.
> Privatization allows the consumer a choice when registering. Search engine registration includes domain name search engine submission. Do not discard, this notice is not an invoice it is a courtesy reminder to register your domain name search engine listing so your customers can locate you on the web.
> This Notice for: (redacted) will expire at 11:59 PM EST, 17 – July – 2015 Act now!
> Payment by Credit/Debit Card
> Select the term using the link above by 17 – July – 2015
> Please reply with UNSUBSCRIBE subject.
This particular example was sent to one of our clients. Nothing about it has been altered, save for some redacted personal information.
The goal of this solicitation was to essentially dupe the recipient into thinking that they had to “register” their domain name with them in order for their website to rank higher in search results. They even go as far as to imply that failure to submit to their services will actually hurt your website and make it harder to be found. “Registration” costs money, of course, and in some cases can be astronomically expensive, especially for a “service” that has no business existing in the first place.
Sounds pretty serious, right?
Well, it isn’t. As a matter of fact, it isn’t anything at all.
Registering a web site is totally free, and it is far from a requirement.
Scary Words Are Just Words
Let’s start with the verbiage they use and the picture it paints.
If you didn’t know any better (which is essentially the fact upon which their entire operation hinges), you’d think you were in trouble for something. They pepper you with terms like “failure” and “cancelation” in an attempt to plant a seed of fear and doubt inside your mind when the truth is that you haven’t done anything wrong.
In fact, you haven’t done anything at all. Which is fine, because you didn’t have to.
It’s a textbook manipulation tactic that has sadly proven to be effective for them in the past. Let’s stop that.
Lost In Cyber Space?
What’s worse than the forceful words they use is the general concept formulated by the sentences they form.
They are implying that if you do not register with them, that it will be “difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.”
How? Why? Where are the specifics?
They don’t exist.
Your website will not be propelled into the deepest, darkest corner of the Internet never to be heard from again if you “fail” to register with these scam artists. That’s just not how it works.
The bottom line is that they are attempting to solicit money from you in return for a service that will affect your search rankings no more than the Man in the Moon (unless the Man in the Moon has some SEO experience, then he might actually be more helpful than a domain registration company).
Here’s another example of the same type of scam:
> Subject: Important: Complete Search Engine Registration for your domain (redacted)
> From: firstname.lastname@example.org
> Date: Tue, 14 Jul 2015 21:37:23 -0500
> Hi there (redacted)
> Domain Name: (redacted)
> This email is being sent out to you because search registration for (redacted) is pending.
> Please register these domains to search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo ASAP to avoid late fees.
> Registering for search engines would help you show up in search results and increase your online presence.
> You can register your domain at link given below:
> We sincerely appreciate your business! If you require anything, we are at your service.
> Remember… If you do not register your domain with the search engines, it may not appear in the search engine listing when people are looking for you. Failure to complete your domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may make it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web. Complete your search engine registration today.
> Search Register
> 110 Middle Road,
> #07-03A Chiat Hong Building,
> Singapore 188968.
> You may unsubscribe here
Same Game, Different Name
Once again, a blatant attempt to take money from a hardworking business owner in exchange for absolutely nothing.
This email reads a little differently than the first example, but the message is the same.
That last paragraph, in particular, is conveniently bursting with golden nuggets of typical scammer-speak, so let’s break it down one sentence at a time:
Heed their warnings and waste your money now or else! Nice use of the dramatic ellipses here, really top notch stuff.
“If you do not register your domain with the search engines, it may not appear in the search engine listing when people are looking for you.”
So they pretty much just come out and lie to your face here. Registering with search engines does not mean success, just like not registering with the search engines does not mean disaster. It’s just a bold faced lie to get you to feel like your new site will become buried in deep space if you don’t register through them – and that is simply not true.
“Failure to complete your domain name search engine registration by the expiration date may make it difficult for your customers to locate you on the web.”
Again, wholly untrue. Search engines crawl the Internet and index everything into their search results lists, whether they like it or not. While there are SEO tactics and methods to improve your search rankings, there is nothing to suggest that failing to register your website will hurt you in any way.
“Complete your search engine registration today.”
I’m not exactly sure what more can be said at this point but I promised a sentence-by-sentence breakdown so, ta-da!
A Wild “Late Fee” Appears
One of the more interesting claims made in this email is that you should register with the search engines quickly in order to “avoid late fees.”
Yes – they are in fact claiming the Internet will not hesitate to tack on late fees to a bill that doesn’t exist if you don’t act quickly and pay them for a practically made up service.
Remember, registering for search engines is 100% free. There is absolutely no benefit from letting somebody else to do it for you. It’s also easy to do.
However, it is not a required measure to take when starting a website.
It is a purely optional and totally free.
The bottom line is that there are scammers out there. They take many forms and if you are a new website owner, odds are you are going to run into them at some point. The best way to stay out of their clutches is by staying informed.