Is Someone Else Pasting Exit Pop-Ups on Your Webpage?
Tonight, I was horrified when someone sent me a link to software — called Link Swiper — that he thought was great.
I skimmed the sales page (it’s a WSO – Warrior Special Offer) and couldn’t figure out what the product did. There was almost no text on the page, just a headline, a blurb, and a video.
So, I watched the sales video, and my stomach lurched. (The video is at the foot of this page, if you want to see it.)
Basically, here’s how Link Swiper works:
1. The person who buys “Link Swiper” uses it to create a cloaked link to someone else’s webpage… the link points to any webpage with good, interesting content.
2. That “Link Swiper” owner posts the cloaked link “all over the Internet.” He’ll post it at forums, in social media, etc. (If you’re wondering why someone would go to all that trouble, you’re about to find out.)
3. Next, someone comes along, sees the link at a forum or social media (or wherever it was posted) and clicks on that link. He or she lands at the recommended webpage. So far, so good. It’s probably a pretty good page, or it wouldn’t have been used as bait.
4. Finally, when the visitor clicks to leave that webpage, he or she will see an exit pop-up. It’s some kind of ad or a request to join a mailing list, or something like that.
Here’s the sleazy part: The pop-up was placed there — via some clever linking code — by the person who bought the “Link Swiper” software… not the website owner. (In fact, the website owner probably has no idea what’s going on.)
I don’t know about you, but when I visit a website and they won’t let me leave without clicking out of a pop-up ad, I mentally note that URL and generally don’t go back there. Pop-ups of any kind, but especially exit pop-ups, are a sales tactic (or list-building tactic) that I don’t like.
I never link to a site that has an exit pop-up. To me, it looks crass beyond belief.
So, how would you feel if someone visited your site and left with a bad impression of you? And what if it went on for months, and you didn’t realize it?
That could happen. “Link Swiper” makes it possible.
I’ve watched the video twice. The second time was to note the one thing that makes that sleazy linking tactic not work: If your website uses frame-breaking technology.
Back in the old HTML days, we used to routinely add frame-breaking code to our websites. That was to prevent bad code from (usually accidentally) making our pages show up in the previous site’s frame.
Today, I’m not sure what to do to protect a WordPress from this kind of tactic. So far, I think a WordPress plugin like Break Out of Frames or WP No Frames will solve the problem… but I’m not 100% sure, yet.
Meanwhile, you need to know that this nasty little linking tactic is being sold as the best thing since sliced bread. (Well, hey, that’s how they sell products, right…?)
Though the likelihood of your site being the target of this kind of ruse is slim… well, the better your content, the more vulnerable you are. After all, these jerks are looking for genuinely good content to lure people into their snares.
Since I just spotted this ugly little “link swiper” tonight, I don’t have much else to say… yet. For now, at least you know this product is on the market, and I recommend taking steps to keep it from hijacking your website visitors and spoiling your reputation.
By the way, the guy is selling an OTO (One-Time Offer) to his customers, called “super stealth link cloaking.” It’s described as something that “…allows you to put in your own stealth subdomains for each link you create. Making them look more like the content site you are sending traffic to. Very slick.”
Seriously… he calls this slick? I have less polite words for it.
And, oh yes, I’m leaving the mailing list of every person who recommends Link Swiper to me. Clearly, they’re more interested in profits than playing fair, online.
Here’s the sales video, if my explanation wasn’t clear. (Sorry, I threw this article together, in haste.)