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Are you missing on potential link partners?
Not having a contact email on your webpage can backfire..
mil2k




msg:428183
 10:44 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

The fact today is many of link popularity campaigns are done by third parties. I happen to notice that lots of websites do not have a contact email for link request. Instead what they have is a Contact us form. This is done mainly to curb email Spam. But have you given it a thought, that many third party link hunters simply ignore the form?

The reasons for doing so are many. No direct email contact info. Generally there is a letter template which is designed for a particular company and expressing those views and terms for reciprocal links in a contact form is simply not possible. Also maintaining and tracking a list of such sites separately is cumbersome to say the least. And when such thing happens the site loses a potential link partner!

To those who emphasize on quality, this also applies to them, because the link campaigns for most of Fortune 1000 companies is ultimately done through third parties. Now just look at the quality of links you missed just because you do not have that email address on your website!

Would love to get fellow members views ;)

I personally counted on 5 good websites that missed potential good links today

 

SEO practioner




msg:428184
 11:38 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Mil2 excellent suggestion!

But are you suggesting a webmaster ought to put on his homepage and all other pages:

"Interested in reciprocals? Click here."

mil2k




msg:428185
 11:44 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Interested in reciprocals? Click here.

That's too much. What i found was not even a single visible email Id to contact except those forms. Having a page with link policy is great! But if not that have at least one visible email id on one of your visible page. Please ;)

I am thinking of changing my nick. Lots of ppl calling me Mil2 and MILK :)

Dreamquick




msg:428186
 11:57 am on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Not wanting to seem totally ignorant but your posted piqued my curiosity...

You might have missed something out - by the sounds of it you are talking about running a bot of some kind, now lots of people (myself included) think these sorts of things are no different to your typical email harvester and so they get blocked/denied.

Don't you find that lots of sites ban these bots? Wouldn't this also get in the way of gathering contact info?

Finally maybe its just my naivety but surely if you were paying someone to find any type of quality links you'd want them to manually review each possible site and as part of this I fail to see how difficult it is for them to find an appropriate contact method.

- Tony

mil2k




msg:428187
 1:25 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

by the sounds of it you are talking about running a bot of some kind

Nopes i am talking about visiting sites personally :)

now lots of people (myself included) think these sorts of things are no different to your typical email harvester and so they get blocked/denied.

I agree and fully Recommend doing so :)

Finally maybe its just my naivety but surely if you were paying someone to find any type of quality links you'd want them to manually review each possible site and as part of this I fail to see how difficult it is for them to find an appropriate contact method.

That's what i am saying. Guys not having any visible email on your website will help you maybe stop getting those SPAM mails. But have you given it a thought that many third party link hunters are unable to communicate link exchange with you because you have that Contact us Form. :)

topr8




msg:428188
 4:37 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>>But have you given it a thought that many third party link hunters are unable to communicate link exchange with you because you have that Contact us Form.

i don't get it, i have a contact form not an email address and a link hunter could use it to contact me no problem, if they are online they can use the form.

the fact that most outsourced link hunters want me to exchange with completely irrelevant sites is a secondary issue to this thread!

universetoday




msg:428189
 7:45 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Using a contact form instead of an email address to prevent SPAM is living in some kind of fantasy world. You're going to get SPAM, that's the reality - no matter what you do.

Grit your teeth and warm up your delete finger.

When I'm doing reciprocal linking, I find a form to be extremely frustrating, and will often just say forget it.

pageoneresults




msg:428190
 7:55 pm on May 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

Hehehe, I'm one of those who has been on a mission to remove all email references from the sites that I manage. All Contact Us links lead to the contact form. We do include a line that reads; If you do not wish to fill out the form below, you can send an email to Company Name. The email address is hidden but viewable once you click on the link.

When I'm doing reciprocal linking, I find a form to be extremely frustrating, and will often just say forget it.

Your loss! Actually, if you are looking for quality reciprocal links, you'll take the minute or two it might require to fill out the form.

There have been many threads here on how to disguise or hide email addresses from the spambots and some are very informative.

I will no longer post email addresses on web sites as I used to do years ago. I always include the Contact Us link in highly visible areas on every page.

If you are serious about contacting me, or contacting one of my clients, you will take the minute or two and complete the form. If not, you'll click on that sole email link on the Contact Us form and send a regular email to me. If your email does not contain the information that I would get from the form submission, it will most likely go in the trash. Why? Because the form is there for two reasons; one to combat spam, and two; to make sure that the information required for a contact request reply is complete.

Hehehe, makes life a little harder when you can't automate the process of sending out link exchange emails. More power to the Contact Us forms. ;)

mil2k




msg:428191
 5:45 am on May 28, 2003 (gmt 0)

i don't get it, i have a contact form not an email address and a link hunter could use it to contact me no problem, if they are online they can use the form.

I had mentioned that there are practical difficulties in using the form. First of all a separate spreadsheet for such websites. Also these files are to be submitted to third parties for future references. :)

Your loss! Actually, if you are looking for quality reciprocal links, you'll take the minute or two it might require to fill out the form.

Actually the loss is Mutual. How many times do you expect Fortune 1000 Companies to engage in reciprocal link hunting? The only chance those nosy fellows give external links is when the third party link partners find good sites to link. And not only that you can also extract your description and anchor text out of them ;)

Fighting Spam is a serious issue. But having a visible email address like link@widgets.com might just help you get some quality links.

If you do not wish to fill out the form below, you can send an email to Company Name. The email address is hidden but viewable once you click on the link.

Even that will do :)

seoRank




msg:428192
 9:09 am on May 31, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't blame webmasters who shy from listing their email ID on the site. The spammers are difficult to fight.

I personally have 2 solutions for this -

For the human visitors, I put up the email ID in an 'image' form, non-hyperlinked, requesting the visitors to 'type' the email ID in their mail client. Cumbersome but most visitors understand the spirit.

For giving out the email ID to partners, I create an alias which I phase out when the spam increases. The ID can be in the form of - may03@mysite.com , jun03@mysite.com , jul03@mysite.com etc.

Try if this works for you.

clueless




msg:428193
 8:42 pm on Jun 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I too have found it frustrating to fill out customer service request forms when I am looking for links, but I do it anyway, though I am sure many don't. It sure is nice when I can find a "mail to" link or image with an email address in it or something other than just a form that just doesn't apply. It's sad that efforts to fight spam make it very difficult for a real live person looking with their eyeballs to contact anyone for a legitimate business purpose. But hey, I hate spam too.

Great point Mil2K, clearly stated.

Clueless

dvduval




msg:428194
 8:57 pm on Jun 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have recently switched to using forms to combat spam on some of my sites. The form simply sends the email, but keeps the email address hidden. The form contains the same fields as an email. There is a dropdown list for the subject. Depending on the subject, the mail is routed to the best person to help them.

Here is the text I use to explain the form:

Why do I have to fill out this form?
You can be assured that your email will be sent to us immediately upon hitting the 'send' button. Due to an ever increasing problem with spam, we have decided to refrain from publishing our email address on the public internet. This helps to insure that we are receiving a higher percentage of legitimate emails. The result - we spend more time answering your questions and less time sifting through spam. In addition, when you select 'My message concerns' from the drop down menu, your email is routed to the person who can best help you.

So far I see no decline in the number of legitimate emails.

TheWhippinpost




msg:428195
 9:49 pm on Jun 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't get it either - Anyone who's serious about linking to you will obviously, IMO, take the time to use a form...in fact, I'd rather use a form!

Whats more, again IMO (but I have to say that i'd not even considered this until reading this thread), it sort'a pre-qualifies the persons intent and seriousness.

If filling in forms is a pain, and it can be I grant you, use Roboform. Also JOC Web Finder is a handy browser when hunting as it parses out email addy's to a seperate window. You can also email straight from the app using your own template.

pageoneresults




msg:428196
 10:06 pm on Jun 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

I don't think there really is a get it to this topic. I feel someone may have been a little frustrated when attempting to perform automation on their link exchanges and found that the top properties they wanted to link to did not advertise a scrapable email address. They then had to physically fill out a form which took a whole minute or two. Can't be wasting our time doing that, can we? Especially if we're a Fortune 1000 company looking for link exchange. ;)

I doubt very seriously that not having a physical email address on a site is going to thwart any serious online marketer who is looking for link exchange.

I'm with you TheWhippinpost, as I know the method of using forms will definitely cut down on the spam and most who fill out the form are serious about their inquiry.

I say do away with email addresses on websites. If you can't protect those addresses from email harvesters, then don't put them there. Unless of course you want to end up one someone's spam list.

How bad is it? Well, we've been testing some new server based spam software. A few of my clients are coming in to thousands of spam emails now being redirected to their junk email boxes. This would not have happened had they not advertised their email addresses on every page of the site.

Email spam has definitely changed the way we do things in today's market place. I have clients who are now being trained to write effective emails, ones that do not trip spam filters. Email spam filters are just like Google algo filters, there is always collateral damage.

How would you like to be the one checking the junk email box every day when there are thousands of messages in there? We have to review those now as we are tweaking the white list to make sure we don't miss out on something important.

bird




msg:428197
 10:20 pm on Jun 3, 2003 (gmt 0)

many third party link hunters are unable to communicate link exchange with you because you have that Contact us Form.

How does having a contact form prevent people from contacting me? If a legitimate third party link hunter personally visiting my site is too lazy to send me a short feedback message saying "If you're interested in exchanging links with example.com, please e-mail me back" (we still can hash out the details later), then they're not doing the job they're paid for.

Btw: I have both a feedback form and real e-mail addresses on my site. I have yet to see a legitimate link-request arrive either way. All the requests I receive are generic and untargeted, and therefore simply simply spam. And yes, that kind of spam arrives through both channels.

mil2k




msg:428198
 8:35 am on Jun 4, 2003 (gmt 0)

I feel someone may have been a little frustrated when attempting to perform automation on their link exchanges and found that the top properties they wanted to link to did not advertise a scrapable email address.

lol. I can assure you that's not the case :)

The purpose of starting this thread was to exchange ideas and probe into the mindset of a form user. I don't know about others but i have gained some valuable insights :) The points about using the form to contact are well taken.

Email spam filters are just like Google algo filters, there is always collateral damage.

This i think is a very valid point and i rest my case ;)

crankin




msg:428199
 5:45 pm on Jun 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have a Contact Us form, and underneath it I also spell out that I can be reached at myname @ mysite.com. Putting the spaces on either side of the @ stops the spambots, and still makes the addy available to the surfer.

Anyone who is too lazy to type out an address in order to email me is someone who is most likely too lazy to actually look at my site, so why should I bother linking with them?

I don't take automated link requests from linkbots, they're all a waste of time. "Hi, I want to swap links, your visitors will love my groovy blue widgets" is not going to make it onto iHateBlueWidgets.com, know what I mean?

;)

pixel_juice




msg:428200
 5:55 pm on Jun 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

>>if you are looking for quality reciprocal links, you'll take the minute or two it might require to fill out the form.

I couldn't agree more. In my experience third party link hunters (especially the kind who can't be bothered to fill in a form ;)) are not really worth the time spent deleting their emails. If I added up all the time I would spend deleting spam through listing an email address, I could go and get some high quality links anyway.

>>I had mentioned that there are practical difficulties in using the form. First of all a separate spreadsheet for such websites.

If a personal request is too much effort, then it is very likely I don't want the link. As soon as I realise the email is of the fill-in-the-blanks "Hi Info! I visted xxx and thought it was a great site!" type, I'm reaching for the delete key as fast as I can.

Even email forms don't stop all spam in any case - there are some very committed junk mailers out there :)

mack




msg:428201
 6:05 pm on Jun 10, 2003 (gmt 0)

I always tend to use forms as a method for people to contac me. Email harvesting is just getting to much. If you build your form well then it really wont take any longer to send the form as it would to send an email. Perhaps even quicker.

At least this way you can be "reasonable" assured that your feedback has came from a human and not a bot.

Mack.

clueless




msg:428202
 7:52 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

bird said:
>Btw: I have both a feedback form and real e-mail addresses on my site. I have yet to see a legitimate link-request arrive either way. All the requests I receive are generic and untargeted, and therefore simply simply spam. And yes, that kind of spam arrives through both channels.<

I'm just curious. Are you saying that you have never received any legitimate link requests?
What do you consider legitmate requests?
I find even specific and targeted requests can be something that I would rather ignore. So what is your criterion for a useful link request? if there is such a thing?

bird




msg:428203
 8:18 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I'm just curious. Are you saying that you have never received any legitimate link requests?
What do you consider legitmate requests?
I find even specific and targeted requests can be something that I would rather ignore. So what is your criterion for a useful link request? if there is such a thing?

The topic of my site is highly specialized, so I'll be picky in any case as well. In practise the result of that is that I know a significant fraction of the people I link to personally. But that's not what I meant above.
Fact is, that all the "link requests" I have received so far have been completely untargeted. There may have been one or two cases where a huge amount of goodwill would have been able to create a somewhat topical connection. But even in those cases it was obvious that the person didn't really check what I'm all about. I only put links on my site that I can be sure will be directly helpful to my visitors. "My site also offers information about some kind of computer graphics" just doesn't cut it when the computer graphics are only a byproduct of what I'm doing myself.

choster




msg:428204
 8:43 pm on Jun 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

I say do away with email addresses on websites.

I say I couldn't disagree with you more.

All of our research has shown that our customers much prefer to use e-mail as opposed to web forms.

  • E-mail is flexible. Customers can describe their request completely, without being limited by a textarea box whose size has been arbitrarily constrained for design/layout purposes. They're not subjected to a questionnaire when, in their minds, your company is the one which messed up in the first place.
  • E-mail can be composed on one's own time. If I fill out half the form and then realize I need to retrieve my discount code from my work e-mail, or get my account number from the file cabinet at home, or call my niece for her delivery address, I usually can't save it and come back to it later. An e-mail on the other hand can be saved, worked on even when offline, and generally made thorough prior to sending.
  • Legitimate e-mail will come from a legitimate and presumably working return address. Many times I've had to contend with invalid addresses provided on feedback forms. More than once I've gotten nasty replies because the original sender entered jsmoth@aol.com instead of jsmith@aol.com, and now Ms. Smith is angry because we're not responding to her message while Mr. Smoth is busy reporting us as a spammer. Oh, and making someone enter it twice is annoying and not quite foolproof-- I tend to cut and paste from the first field to the second without paying much attention.

For that reason, we always provide at least one visible e-mail address along with our telephone number in a very accessible place. Not the entire employee directory. In fact, not any personal accounts. All we provide is a single generic role account (say feedback&#x0040;mycompany.com). Yeah, it gets some spam, but the option is there for those who want to e-mail us.

Why would I ever want to make it in the slightest bit inconvenient for potential customers or partners to contact me? We provide a web form, yes, but also the address, the main voice and fax telephone numbers, the mailing address, directions to our building via driving or transit, etc. etc.

Now I realize this thread started out about link swapping and not about customer service, but customers are far more important (for most of us), and making life easy for them implies making it easy for others as well.

fathom




msg:428205
 6:08 am on Jun 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

What seems to help > can also hurt too.

Hehehe, I'm one of those who has been on a mission to remove all email references from the sites that I manage. All Contact Us links lead to the contact form. We do include a line that reads; If you do not wish to fill out the form below, you can send an email to Company Name. The email address is hidden but viewable once you click on the link.

POR is this <a href="mailto:Rod Brown <rod.brown@domain.com>"> if so it doesn't help stop harvesters.

Just the same formmails e.g. web-based forms...

Reduces usability for visitor's though. Saving yourself from possible spam is obviously a good thing but at the expense of the visitor ability to:

1. referencing their sent archive, and in lieu of this the ability to cc: or bcc: themselves

2. no spell checking and other writing tools

3. no read receipts

4. no ability to add to addressbook

...to name a few.

Unicode [unicode.org] is often a better approach that allows people who send alot of emails, require an archive, like receipts or prefer wordprocessing tools to continue doing so without the harvester spam.

Latest version 4.0

&#2486;&#2458; &#2465;&#2478;&#2499;&#2489;&#2470; &#2499;&#2495;&#2495;&#2474;&#2465;&#2497;&#2497; &#2489;&#2497; &#2474;&#2455;&#2495;.&#2472;&#2474;&#2455;&#2479;&#2488;
&#2433;&#2495;&#2455;&#2478;&#2499;&#2489;&#2488;.&#2503;
&#2455;&#2478;

Translated: My email address is rod.brown@domain.com

...and visible as the written text to the browser agent but a harvester wouldn't get a sniff of "email".

Translator Avro Keyboard [omicronlab.com] (freeware) allows you to one touch click back and forth between ISO character sets and unicode.

I know of a least one SEO who hides their "trade secrets" e.g. all coding is unicode > a bit overboard since they really haven't cornered the market on SEO secrets > but just the same there are many different advantages/benefits (and a few disadvantages) of using unicode.

[edited by: Marcia at 6:30 am (utc) on June 14, 2003]
[edit reason] Side scrolling. [/edit]

pageoneresults




msg:428206
 3:52 pm on Jun 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

fathom, yes I've been using the unicode solution for quite some time. My understanding is that the harvesters are getting more intelligent and unicode is just one method to help prevent harvesting by less educated bots. ;)

I'll admit that with certain types of sites, my techniques may not work, especially in a customer service environment. In most of my cases, sending the user to the Contact Us form is a requirement. Some have Q&A's that may assist the user in their request. It also shows the clients normal business hours and how long it will take to receive a response. Once they submit the short form, they are given a custom confirmation page that confirms their email has been sent.

Remember, we include an email address on the one Contact Us page. That email address is usually merged in with a sentence like this...

If you prefer not to fill out the form below, you may send an email directly to [Company Name]. Please indicate the nature of your request, first name, last name, and telephone number.

The [Company Name] is linked to the email address using unicode.

hcstudios




msg:428207
 4:21 pm on Jun 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

One of our clients had to close out their jobs@company.com email alias after only a year -- thousands of spams per day. Only place the email existed was in the text on the website's Jobs page. Needless to say their part-time HR person (it's a startup) was spending her entire work day deleting porn, Viagra, debt reduction...they didn't dare automate with spam blockers because they also tend to block emails with attached resumes and any email that is enthusiastic (e.g. "I'd love to work for your company!").

These days I prefer to put any email addresses on a site into a graphic, preferably using a script font that's a little hard to read (since there are some bots out there that can decipher graphic text). I then put something in the alt tag that a text reader can decipher (with a bit of work). No mailto: link -- if you want to email, you have to type in the email address in your email. Humans can still gather the address, but bots can't. And it's right there beside the form, so if typing the address is too much work, folks can always fill out the form.

Sure, it means a little more work for the end user...about the same as picking up a big yellow phone book, looking up a number, and dialing it by hand. Neither the graphic email nor the torture of dialing a phone has been mentioned to me by a single one of the many students who send me resumes or the many local businesses who call to sell me supplies, so my thought is it also isn't putting off a single *real* contact for my site or my clients' sites. And as for putting off link requests...well, I personally haven't seen any fewer link requests since starting to use this method. And if I find a site I (or a client) want to link with, I'm certainly not put off by having to jump through a few hoops to make contact.

mil2k




msg:428208
 5:01 am on Jun 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I think many of you guys have at least one visible email address. I was talking of no email addresses. There are no standards for forms. Some have 3 fields and i have seen some have 15.

In any case many are quick to assume that my Laziness(third party) to fill form is reflected on the quality of the sites seeking reciprocal. That is not always true :)

Choster and fathom has made some extremely good points. You guys are doing this for many years.. but I was a regular surfer not too long ago.. and I absolutely hated filling those forms. It may serve it's purpose. But writing and scrolling in those tiny spaces was too much for me.

buckworks




msg:428209
 5:39 am on Jun 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I've used javascript to hide email addresses, but for the benefit of surfers with javascript turned off I've also taken to listing my email contact as:

me (at) mydomain.com

I mention that doing it that way protects it from evil spam-harvesting robots, and humans smart enough to be worth talking to will be able to figure it out. To my knowledge I've never offended anyone, and I get some fun comments about it. Believe me, site visitors understand about wanting to hide from spam!

anallawalla




msg:428210
 6:10 am on Jun 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I have both forms and email addresses at different sites and hardly anyone uses the form to request a link exchange.

Unless your site is a hub or an authority, there is little incentive to link to others. Business sites may link to their clients or to hubs/suthorities, but unlikely to link to a competitor or an unrelated site.

For the newer sites, I obfuscate my email address in the HTML but it is a clickable address to the human. The Chinese spambots come by but no spam as yet.

- Ash

TheWhippinpost




msg:428211
 11:00 am on Jun 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

Just knocked this up for peeps that don't wanna use forms if anyone wants to use it;


<!--Place in <head> //-->
<script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">
<!--
function buildemail(){
var name = 'addressee'; //Eg... john
var domain = 'domain'; //Eg... yahoo
var tld = 'tld'; //Eg... .com or .co.uk
var email = 'Click <a href="mailto:'+name+'@'+domain+tld+'">here</a> to email '+name+'@'+domain+tld;
show.innerHTML=email;
}
// -->
</script>
--
<!-- Place in <body> //-->
<!-- Choose one or the other click method //-->
<input type="button" onClick="buildemail()" value="email" />
<a href="javascript:buildemail()">EMAIL</a>

<div id="show"> </div>

Doubt if it's original but it works if javascript is enabled in browser.

Change "addressee", "domain" and "tld" to suit your addy.

User has to click on link which then builds your email addy and displays a clickable link to open the mail client.

Dunno how secure it is to high-end harvester bots but it passed my, admittedly, limited tests.

Blue Gravity




msg:428212
 4:04 pm on Jun 15, 2003 (gmt 0)

I really like the "email in form of an image" idea. Thanks for posting that because I never would've thought of that!

This 57 message thread spans 2 pages: 57 ( [1] 2 > >
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