I was asked this week to review an affiliate program where you sell access to a “Lead Generation” software that uses search results to “harvest and extract content” from targeted websites. The software then takes that information and puts it into a “comma separated value” document you can open in Excel and manipulate. For an additional charge you can use their robocall phone system, which I assume makes those calls we all love to receive from no one we know.
So what’s the problem with this? It depends on your values as to whether you would want to use a tool like this.
When I program websites, I go to great lengths to make sure the email address of my client is not put on the site that makes it easy for software like I’ve just described to “harvest” (and that’s a word you don’t want to use with your Constant Contact or GetResponse representative) email addresses. Usually, if you want your email on the site, I’d program it this way: debra (at) syndicatingyourcontent (dot) com. This method delivers the email to you, but makes it impossible for the software to recognize this as an email address.
These programs look for the specific code and/or the email format. When they find the code they take it and that’s how you get so much spam. Spam is the reason why we try not to put email addresses, in a recognizable form, on your websites. Instead we use contact forms.
These programs also extract the content from your website. Your content can be used on fake websites that are built for the specific purpose of creating inbound links to the spammers sites and to feed off your keyword rich content. This is called “scraping”, and trust me, it’s not fun when someone scrapes your site and steals your content so they can make money.
Unfortunately I had to deliver the news to my friend that lead generation software used in this manner is not something I would advise anyone to invest in. Using software like this could hurt your business more than support your business. After all, if enough of us hit the “Report Spam” button on your email, your internet service provider (ISP) could stop you from sending email. Is that what you want?
In the next blog post I’ll share with you how you can make sure I don’t hit the “Report Spam” button on your email.