Who The Heck Is . . .

3/15 UPDATE

I believe in “better safe than sorry.” So I did not allow a comment on this post today. Why? Because the email address for the sender was at “gmai” [dot] com and not the correct “gmail” [dot] com format. I wasn’t going to take any chances with a spammer or phisher getting through. So if you don’t see a comment of yours coming through after moderation, and you’re a legitimate blogger or person, you might want to consider how your on-line persona looks to your potential audience. I’m not the only blogger who nixes sketchy comments or contact info.

2/24/UPDATE

Good news for WordPress bloggers. We now have a “Spam?” reporting option in our “Referrer” box. If WordPress thinks a referrer might be spam, a link will appear that we can use to report it. You can find more information here: http://en.support.wordpress.com/stats/#marking-spam-referrers

I have such an option for you-know-who today, and I’m marking it as spam.

1/29/UPDATE

A comment appeared in my moderation queue this morning from *Sem.* I won’t put it on this post because I don’t want an active link to the company on the blog and I don’t like what the company’s doing to my blog’s statistics. (And I’ll be going through the comments to edit any active links there.)  Basically, though, the company has established a blog, which is supposed to be an introduction to its services. I suspect if you now google the terms *blog* and *the company name,* you can find the link if you’re so inclined. I am not, so I won’t. But I find censorship distasteful so I’m acknowledging the company’s visit to this post and the gist of its comment.

Also, “Consider The Sauce” received a reply from WordPress about his concerns with *Sem.* They indicated they are working on a way to let bloggers hide these visits. I’m not a techie, so even if they explained the process to me, I probably couldn’t understand it. Perhaps other hosts are doing the same. I still think it’s worth letting your host know how you feel about “Sem.* As the old expression goes, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease.”

1/24/UPDATE

By now, anyone who looks at their blog host’s stats has probably seen referrers from a company called “S-E*M)A!L-T+”. Basically, the company is doing what the tech-savvy call “referrer spam” with the intent that you visit its website and sign up for its SEO services. The effect on your blog or website? Your stats are now meaningless. Many of the views you receive are not from real readers in the real world. I’m not sure there’s anything we can do to stop it. But at the very least, I’ve reached the point where I’d like everyone to contact his/her blog/website host and ask them to block this company’s spamming. Why? Because any stats your provider gives you are now totally and completely worthless.

Even if this company is legitimate and above-board, it is compromising our ability to determine the effectiveness of our posts, links, and tags in reaching our intended audiences. What really catches the eyes of our readers? False “views” like this make it difficult or impossible to know. If you agree, try contacting your host and letting them know you want real statistics. Maybe then the hosts will make it a priority to block such spam and provide us with truly significant “statistics.”

1/16 UPDATE

After a drop-off in views of this post, I’m seeing an increase again these last two days. And most of the views appear to be from readers in the United Kingdom looking for information about you-know-who. I wonder if the company might be focusing on that part of the world right now. Still no reports of malicious actions, but if you want to be safe, it’s probably best not to click on the links or sign up.

1/1/2014 UPDATE

Yesterday, I contacted WordPress support regarding semalt to ask if they had any information on the company. Following is the reply I received from staff member rootjosh:

It is hard to say.

If I were being suspicious, I would say that the company is crawling sites as a form of advertising to get people to do exactly what you are doing (noticing and being curious) in hopes that they would then sign up for its services. If I were being REALLY suspicious, I might think it was just a scam to get you to give out your email or FB info.

Or perhaps they are running some sort of legit spider crawl. Overall though, I don’t have a lot of faith in anyone who is advertising “search ranking” type services.

WordPress, at least, has not discovered anything malicious in regards to semalt. My instincts are to remain suspicious of such sites. As some commenters below have mentioned, semalt may be about data mining, spamming, or other activity that isn’t in our best interests. But for now, at least, the company doesn’t seem to be a true security threat.

That being said, it might be worth contacting your blog/website host to let them know how many of these “hits” you have received. This could be the beginning of a major phishing scam or a backdoor attempt to hack into the hosts.

I have to wonder about the company’s skills at Search Engine Optimization, though, when my simple blog post begins appearing at the top of search results for “semalt!”

I will keep semalt on my radar, and if I learn anything more, I’ll continue to update this post. Thanks to everyone for sharing your experiences, and please feel free to continue sharing them in the comments as well as any new information you might find.

ORIGINAL POST FOLLOWS

. . . using semalt (dot) com on my domain ( jmmcdowell [dot] com) today? And why? Thirty-one hits on my home page have come from this in the last hour.

I looked up semalt and it’s a way to check your google rankings. But who would be looking at my blog?

Any ideas out there?

UPDATE 12/31/2013 — I’ve contacted WordPress Support to see if they have any information about Semalt. If I hear back from them, I will post the reply.

225 thoughts on “Who The Heck Is . . .

    • You’re most welcome. I never dreamed this post would become the go-to source for information on “sem.” No security issues reported so far, but ignoring them is still probably the best way to go.

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  1. Semalt have mysteriously stopped hitting our blog site. Traffic via them not increased for days. Long may it continue. Thanks for putting this post up.

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    • If only the rest of us could be so lucky! I’m still getting many hits on this post from folks looking for information. I even have a comment from the company in my moderation queue that I won’t post. But I am about to update this post about what they said.

      May your good fortune continue!

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  2. After entering my email address on their site I got this message from them:

    “Recently you have become a user of the webmaster analytics tool SEMALT (dot) COM.
    We have a free plan for your websites.
    Add your URL and see rankings within 5 minutes.”

    Which completely failed to explain what they’re offering that I might possibly be interested in. What does it MEAN? I still don’t get it. I’ve lost interest, other than vaguely watching this thread.

    1/29/2014 – jmmcdowell converted the exact link to remove any direct link to the company’s site

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    • I just updated the post as your comment came in. They apparently now have a blog that introduces their services. I’m still skeptical, and I think—for now at least—the best course of action is to ignore them as best we can.

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  3. With regard to this nuisance company, firstly my blogspot account shows in the stats the URL of referring sites. The one you mention, in my case, starts with SEA whereas yours doesn’t appear to have the A. However, I searched for it on Twitter not using the blogspot identity. I found lots of jewellry adverts. That was interesting because I had just had ‘follows’ from jewellery businesses when I have absolutely no interest in jewellry and have not mentioned it on any blog. I haven’t suffered as badly as you, but I would love to be rid of their visits – between 3 and 12 a day.

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    • It’s interesting that you can correlate it with some businesses that started following your blog. I’ve noticed an increase in that type of follower on WordPress, and I’ve wondered if some of them are real businesses or just shells for spammers and bots. I’m sure some are legitimate, but others look a lot more questionable.

      This post sees a real ebb-and-flow pattern in views, and I’d bet it matches up with “that company” hitting a new round of bloggers periodically. I still haven’t heard that’s there’s anything sinister behind “sem,” but they do ruin our stats. If you’re like me, you’d rather have quality visits from people interested in what you have to say, not nameless, meaningless “eyes.”

      Thanks for sharing your experiences!

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  4. I had thought that Semalt had done their thing and disappeared.

    They were regular visitors in December and early January but then a few quiet weeks when hits returned to the norm of around 100. Feb 7th and 13th saw spikes of 459 and 599 hits with visits from Semalt. Blog is hosted on Weebly and I have issued an email to the help desk.

    Thanks for the information.

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  5. I had thought that Semalt had done their thing and disappeared.

    They were regular visitors in December and early January but then a few quiet weeks when hits returned to the norm of around 100. Feb 7th and 13th saw spikes of 459 and 599 hits with visits from Semalt. Blog is hosted on Weebly and I have issued an email to the help desk.

    Thanks for the information.

    (apologies for a re-post if a re-post – but have re-submitted without web address as WordPress appears not to like it for some reason)

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    • For whatever reason, your original comment ended up in my spam queue. Usually that only happens if multiple links are included, but sometimes things just get glitchy. This company really seems to work in waves. I’ve had a similar rise and fall in their referrers, although nowhere near the numbers you’ve had. I also see this post’s views rise and fall as new people search for information on them and find me in their search results. I’d still love to see our blog hosts find a way to filter this false traffic from our stats. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

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  6. Thanks for posting this! Like many others, I found you while trying to find information on seamalt. So far, I’ve only had five hits from them, but wasn’t about to click the link without investigation. Now to update my wordpress, so I can have the spam reporting option….

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    • The good news is, you won’t have to see them in your “referrers” section once you “spam” them. Unfortunately, their visits will still be reflected in our stats. But hiding them is a start!

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    • I see a real ebb and flow in their visits—or at least I did before I used WordPress’s new “classify as spam” option to keep them from showing up in my referrer stats. Alas, their visits still get counted in my stats, which does skew things. But I’m happy not to have to see them at least!

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    • They are an annoyance, and I really don’t like the way they impact our stats and make them meaningless. But I’m glad WordPress added that “spam” option to the referrer stats. They’ll still mess up our numbers, but at least we won’t have to look at them!

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  7. Pingback: Sudden Spike in Referral Visits from Semalt.com - Page 2

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