If you own and manage websites and domain names, then you’ve likely received spam messages like this.
Subject: [Your domain} expiration
You have 1 domain name seo registration service pending.
This solicitation is to inform you that it’s time to send in your search engine registration for [domain]
Failure to complete this order by [supposed cut off date] may result in the cancellation of this offer (making it difficult for your customers to locate you, using search engines on the web).
Act soon! This offer for [domin name] will expire on [date]. Act today!
The emails look like invoices and are clearly designed to trick the unwary into believing that their domain is expiring and they must click a link to renew. They imply that domain holders must act quickly or risk cancellation of the service.
Experienced website publishers will quickly realise that the messages are not genuine domain fee invoices. In fact, the text of the emails does explain that the sending company sells SEO software and does not register or renew domain names. The links open a scammy “SEO Optimization Services” website that tries to sell you utterly useless and completely unnecessary “traffic generator software”.
If you have a good working knowledge of website publishing, the domain name system, and search engine optimisation (SEO), it’s unlikely that you’ll get caught by these scams.
But, thanks to easy-to-use site publishing tools such as WordPress*, creating websites has become more and more accessible. If users know their way around a computer, know how to work a word processor, and are willing to spend some time learning basic skills, they can quickly and easily create a slick, modern, and fully functional website.
This democratisation of the web is a good thing! But, it does mean there are now a lot of website owners who have only rudimentary background knowledge about SEO, domain names, and how web publishing works outside of their slick Content Management System (CMS). And these people are potentially vulnerable to domain registration scams like the one above.
If recipients do not have a clear understanding of domain names, then they could well believe that the invoice is a genuine domain registration reminder and click and pay without due forethought. Or, they may believe that they really need to purchase some sort of “traffic generator” to get visitors to their website. All such software is ineffective and unnecessary.
Related domain name spam campaigns may falsely claim that someone has applied to register a series of domain names based on the recipient’s brand name or existing domain name. These bogus messages are designed to panic people into buying domain names at inflated prices.
And, criminals sometimes send out phishing scam emails that look like they were sent by the recipient’s hosting or domain registration company.
If you are a new website owner, then be very wary of any unsolicited emails that are seemingly related to your domain registration or hosting provider. Don’t click links in any of these emails unless you have verified that they really were sent by your domain or hosting provider.
And, it’s a good idea to get up to speed on SEO as quickly as possible. You’ll need to acquire some basic SEO knowledge to help get your new site ranking well in search engines and receiving visitors. But, keep in mind that there is a lot of outdated, misleading, or just plain wrong information about SEO floating around the wilds of the Internet. And, the Internet is flooded with decidedly dodgy SEO “experts” who are more than happy to take your money and give you little or nothing in return.
A screenshot of the spam email: