Email Of The Week: CarAndDriver Launches Bold Online Link Farm Strategy

We promised we’d start publishing some of the more entertaining emails we get in our inbox, in the probably ridiculous hope that publicly shaming people may actually lessen the flow of these absurd messages.

A couple of weeks ago we posted a harried email written by a reader looking for legal help (see No, Don’t Sue Facebook. Yes, Do Get A New Boyfriend).

Now we’ve got another one. Hachette Filipacchi Media, which publishes notable magazines like Elle, Car and Driver and Road & Track, wants a little help with their search engine rankings.

The company’s Digital Outreach Coordinator, Automotive Group sent us an email telling us how much they loved a recent CrunchGear post about Ford. They offered to “link to your site on our microblogs to improve your pagerank.”

Hey, great! We love links. But this link requires a little payback. They want us to link two pages on to the anchor text “Ford Vehicle Buying Guide and/or Ford Flex Buying Guide.”

We get reciprocal link spam emails all the time (all sites do), but it’s rare for a large brand to engage in link farming so boldly. For that, we salute them (and we passed it on to Google’s Matt Cutts).

The full email is below, with the links as they suggest them. We’ve added nofollow tags, but since the email doesn’t specify that we can’t do this, we’ll expect our links back shortly.

From: [removed]>
Date: November 18, 2009 4:18:11 PM EST
To: “‘'”
Subject: Question for Matt


I read your article on Ford’s efforts to cut down on petroleum usage by using wheatgrass as an alternative in its third row storage container. This concept is extremely interesting and I would love to be able to either refer your post on one of my microblogs or link to your site on our microblogs to improve your pagerank.

What I would need from you is to place either in the article or really anywhere you think on your site that makes sense: Ford Vehicle Buying Guide and/or Ford Flex Buying Guide.

Let me know what you think!