Search Registration Scams
Earlier this week I registered a domain name. Nothing new there, I register new domains every other day, but this time I received an email a couple of days later:
Matt Lowe (Account #67128):
This email is being sent out to you because search registration for virtual-festival.com is pending.
Please register this domain 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 clicking here.
We sincerely appreciate your business! If you require anything, we are at your service.
The Search Registry
SearchRegistry . org
1787 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 1025
Washington DC, 20006
Or by Email:
info @ SearchRegistry.org
Please, if you receive an email telling you that you need to register your website with the search engines through them then simply ignore it.
Registering a website with the search engines is free.
The easiest way to register a website with the search engines is to create a
sitemap.xml file and then submit it to the search engines through their webmaster tools. This is something that your web developer can help you with, or if you don’t have a developer then we can help you. Submitting the sitemap to Google is completely free.
Another easy way to get Google indexing your WordPress website is to use Yoast’s excellent WordPress SEO plugin, and setting it to “ping” Google when a page is updated. This will generate the sitemap for you too.
Avoid late fees
There are no fees for registering a website, and thus no late fees. Remember: Google, Bing and Yahoo all allow you to submit your website to their search engines free of charge.
An Analysis Of SearchRegistry.Org
The website in question is little more than a holding page with a contact form. The email address that the email comes from goes straight back to the company that handles their
spamming “email marketing”. The email address email@example.com, listed at the bottom of their email, does not work (I suspect the hosting company has terminated it due to their spamming antics).
At the bottom of the website is this nugget (emphasis added for ease of reading):
DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this mailer and advertising material is for your general information and/or advertisement purposes only. SearchRegistry ( SearchRegistry.org) is a one time service to customers, whereby SearchRegistry will submit customer’s registered domain to search engines to get customer’s website listed on various search engines. Thank you for being our customer and we strive to provide you the best service we can. While we believe in the submission process, our product and how it can help your website listing on the search engines, we can legally and ethically make no guarantee or promise of how the search engines will handle each specific submission sent in using our service. SearchRegistry website, marketing materials and search engine submission service is provided “As Is” without warranty of any kind. The entire risk as to the results and the performance of the SearchRegistry website, marketing materials and search engine submission service is assumed by the user, and in no event will SearchRegistry be liable for any direct, indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages suffered in the course of using the SearchRegistry website or our search engine submission service. This service is not required, and as our customer, you voluntarily enter into any contract for services with SearchRegistry. SearchRegistry gives no guarantees, warranties or representations, implied or otherwise, for the results or success of the search engine submissions. All reliance on the service is at your own risk and discretion. Prices are subject to change, and refunds will only be processed according to the Terms of Service. In no event will we be liable for any loss or damage including without limitation, indirect or consequential loss to damage, or any loss or damage whatsoever arising from loss of data, profits arising out of, or in connection with the use of this service. Your use of any or all service must be based on your own due diligence.
They admit fully in their own promotional material that “This service is not required”, and basically push all risk onto the user.
Sadly it’s not possible to get any information on the company or individual(s) behind the website as they are using a Whois privacy protection tool.
I tried using their sign-up process to see what I could learn about their nefarious business.
Would You Like A Discount?
The first thing you will come across on this site, should you put your details into the form on the home page, is a page asking you to enter your discount voucher (if you have received one). Well I can’t say I was sent one, but hold on, what’s this? There’s already a discount code entered for me. Oh joy! “SPECIAL75” has already been entered, with a message stating “Congratulations, you have our highest valued coupon!”
Well there’s a stroke of luck.
If I click the “Redeem Now” button to carry on through to the next page it does, sure enough, apply the discount with the message “Congratulations! Special 75% Discount Coupon Applied.”
And now the clincher, just how much is this going to hurt my wallet? Well it would have cost me $397.00, so not much right? But with my fantastic discount the price gets knocked down to a mere $97.00!! That’s an incredible price to pay compared to $397.00, but let’s not forget that submitting to Google, Bing and Yahoo costs NOTHING. $97.00 compared to nothing doesn’t sound quite so great.
You WILL Have A Discount
Well if you weren’t convinced it’s a scam by this point then there are some more fun things you can do with this site. I figured I’d have a play around and see if I could get to the checkout page without the discount being applied. Why shouldn’t I pay full price if I want to? I went back to the discounts page and deleted the text and submitted the page again. I tried changing it to some gibberish I made up. I tried entering just spaces. I tried following the “Continue without entering a coupon code” link. Every single time it accepted it as the SPECIAL75 voucher and applied the discount.
There is no way to not have a discount. Why? Because $97 sounds a lot more palatable when compared to $397.00, and the scammers know that all too well. They’re trying to trick the mark into thinking they’re subverting the system by receiving a voucher they shouldn’t have received.
Here, Have MORE Discounts!
Having obtained the information I needed in order to write this article I closed the window. Or at least I tried to, I was met with an annoying “Confirm Navigation” box warning me that my website was at risk as I’d still not registered it in Google.
How do they know?!
Now, in their desperation to scam me, they are offering a further discount on top of the 75% they have already knocked off the price. Now they want to halve the $97.00 down to a mere $47.00 with the new voucher code of “TODAY47”, but the offer is ONLY valid today. WOW! But wait, $47.00 is still a lot more than “free”, right?
And can I use this new voucher directly on the voucher page? Nope. Entering this supposed voucher code still applies the SPECIAL75 code, so I think it’s fair to say there’s no such thing as an actual voucher code on this website.
Do I Need To Register With The Search Engines?
Oh you wanted more than that?
Well generally speaking it’s not necessary to submit a website to the search engines. The best way to get your website noticed by Google, Bing and Yahoo is to simply create great content and get other people to link to you from their website. It’s the only strategy for getting high up in the search engines. If you’re looking for a simple set-and-forget option then you’re going to be disappointed.
There’s no inherent harm in telling Google that your website is out there, but if that’s your only intended way of attracting visitors then I can assure you that your website WILL fail.
So Just What DO These Companies Do?
Essentially by using their service you are requesting that this company takes your web address (e.g. mywizzynewwebsite.com) and copy and paste it into the form on this page (you’ll need to be logged into Google to see the form). That’s it.
Would you pay somebody $45 to do that? No? How about $97? No? How about $397?
Obviously this is an outrageous cost for something you can do yourself for free that will probably be of no benefit to you or your customers, so please keep your money in your pocket and don’t let these scammers take you for a ride. Stay safe out there.
p.s. If you receive something fishy that you suspect to be a scam then please get in touch, I enjoy exposing the Internet scum!