Imagine my surprise when I received an email from someone claiming I had used a photo without proper attribution! Going by the name Gavin Whitner, representing Music Oomph / MusicOomph.com, he said Id’ be off the hook if I did one simple thing: link to his website. Seemed reasonable, but something was a bit off— I would soon learn this was a backlink photo credit scam and I was the target.
Maybe you’re here because you got a fishy email too, as a pro in PR and SEO for emerging tech, here’s the overall idea and strategy Mr. Whitner is using (if that’s his name). By claiming he owned the rights to a photo on my website, requesting a link, “Gavin” was trying to positively impact his own website ranking. Links, especially from websites like mine with high domain authority, help your website rise through the ranks. If sites like mine link to him, he increases his own search engine rank.
Here’s the email, it’s actually a clever scam.
The original email I received:
Hi,Email from alleged Gavin Whitner of Music Oomph / MusicOomph.com
I saw this page of your site (https://www.justinkbrady.com/how-to-start-a-podcast/) using my photo, which is licensed under CC 2.0
Here’s the link to my photo on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/50337761737/
It’s certainly free to use. Thanks for using it. However, I do ask for a small attribution.
Could you kindly add an image credit anywhere on your page? Something simple like “Photo by Gavin Whitner” (the link leads to my website) would be perfect.
Wait… Links Have Value?
Many people don’t understand links, hyperlinks, also called backlinks, have value. A link is a type of internet currency.
Put simply, every inbound link increases the likelihood a page appears in a web search, relating to the text hyperlinked. Linking the phrase “what are backlinks?” to a webpage with a corresponding topic for example, increases its ranking for that phrase. The more websites linking a specific phrase to a specific page, increases rank. When asking yourself how to get backlinks, there is one common theme: great content.
The right way to aquire quality backlinks is by providing quality content people want to link to. The wrong way is to lie—if caught Google will penalize you.
How A Backlink Photo Credit Scam / Photo Attribution Scam Works
Because using photos on a blog or website can be illegal without acquiring the proper rights, this backlink photo credit scam hinges on you reacting out of fear and seeing an easy solution, not thinking twice. Fear = lawsuit! Solution = link!
Alleged scammers like Gavin Whitner seek to artificially increase ranking for their websites—in this case, Music Oomph / MusicOomph.com by getting unsuspecting content producers to cough up backlinks. These links increase their ranking. But why go to all this trouble just to increase your rank? Because it pays!
The goal here isn’t to simply get traffic. Traffic by itself has no value. Instead, the goal is to make money via affiliate links when you find a product on their website and buy that product. All the products listed on Music Oomph have affiliate links, meaning if you buy anything, he gets a cut. If you look at the URLs on the website, you will notice they all have “musicoomph” tracking IDs.
There is a better way to get backlinks and boost your search ranking. If this is an area you’d like to learn enter your name and email address and I’ll send you the tactics that work for my clients. (And the tactics that got you to click on this article!) Just enter your first name and email, and in 5 minutes I’ll send a free PDF for you to get media coverage in just 10 days.