Senior SEO Consultant

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Link seller spam is nothing new, and will most likely exist and evolve for as long as the internet has a need for marketing.

Unfortunately, it must work to a point – albeit to a low percentage, but I can imagine the volume and velocity that the emails are outreached in means that even at a low conversion percentage, it’s worthwhile for the sender.

Given we’re now in 2020, and the most recent change to the spam link practice (for most) is they did a find/replace and swapped out their high PR websites for high DA websites instead, thanks Moz.

Every now and again, you find a real genuine website that’s slipped through the net.

I got an email through today from someone in Noida, India (I had them click on a link so I could find their location) pretending to be a lady from San Francisco, using the standard stolen profile image and sparse profile, and I had a look at their websites on offer.

They’re that high quality it needs emphasis.

Drop Domains

It’s common practice for link spam sellers to purchase drop domains and reuse them based on their prior history. Within this person’s list of websites one stood out: officialroyalwedding2011.org.

So I went on WayBack Machine to conduct a postmortem:

The 2011 Royal Wedding Website

At first glance, I thought this was just another website made back in 2011 to capitalize on the hype of the royal wedding. But then on closer inspection, could this be the actual official website from the event?!

The footer, and footer links, tell me it might be.

  • Link to the official Prince of Wales website
  • “Coming to London?” link to official Gov pages
  • FAQs
  • Terms and Conditions, Privacy Statement & an Accessibility Statement
  • “Implemented by Accenture” link

This is either genuine, or a lot of effort has gone into this to make it genuine. The backlink profile leads me to believe it’s genuine. The site has/was referenced to across a number of Wikipedia articles on the event, as well as by a large number of news publications (from around the world) to support statements made about the ceremony, venue, date, and time – and the final proof that it’s real, it’s linked to from the official UK royal family website:

The domain, linked to from an official Royal Family press release.

So what has become of this piece of British digital history? They let the domain expire.

It appears as though content ceased to be published in 2011, and for 8 years it just sat in the ether with DNS resolution errors and was picked up again in 2019 and then WayBack machine scraped for all content from 2010 and 2011, with further content being added/sold in recent months around the wedding theme.

It’s a shame that a piece of British digital history has fallen into the hands of link sellers, and I’m surprised that those responsible for digital assets within the Royal household/brand/holding group would let such a domain expire and fall into the hands of anyone.

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