1script - 5:07 pm on Apr 14, 2013 (gmt 0)
Thanks guys! @mack: I guess you are correct in the technical sense but man, what a low ROI promotion technique! Chances that another webmaster would buy something or engage with your site in any meaningful way, especially when your foul play is suspected, are like finding liquid water on Mars. If this is really the goal, it must be the epitome of bottom feeding Internet promotion.
I was hoping that they had a less depressing goal in mind: link dropping into access logs opened to crawlers. But in reality, that's probably not too far on the scale of stupidity from marketing to annoyed webmasters.
@lucy24: no, I'm pretty sure about the illegitimate referrer. It's the referrer that's implausible, not my landing page. I think what happens is they run some sort of an automated search for a widget that they either want to rank for themselves or are already ranking, just not high enough for their liking. Then they visit every one of the pages that come up and leave a fake referrer - the URL of the page that they would also like to rank for that widget.
That would be the only logical explanation that I have in mind except of course it sounds like a very remote possibility of this ever having much effect. On the other hand, I am finding sites "promoted" that way belonging to some big outfits who, you'd think, can afford good SEO advice and most likely have SEOs (and even "celebrity" SEOs) on staff.
Big outfits (allegedly) using this technique is what made me think about this - I've seen it done for years by dumb spammers and never gave it a second thought. This time it seems a bit different so it piqued my interest.
Perhaps one other possibility exist: some kind of a browser glitch (some toolbar quirk?) that messes up the referrer and sends a wrong one? I have no idea how to test for that but it must be a pretty popular browser or a pretty popular toolbar - I am finding instances of these implausible referrers from supposedly good sites every day in my logs.