Hijacking Links, Is it Likely?
Are hijacking links likely?
Particularly, hijacking someone else's affiliate links for use on a website?
I witnessed something recently that puzzled me.
After discussing shop with one of my group members, I was searching around and found a Group Review site. I was doing random Google search of review sites just to gain a better understanding of the interconnections.
I will leave the group member’s name and the website URL anonymous, as I don’t wish to implicate anyone in anything. I have no idea what is going on here.
Surely almost nothing is ever impossible, but we will soon get to the bottom of this mystery.
We will definitely get to the bottom if hijacking links are likely.
There are affiliate links within this post. What this means is that if you decide to purchase anything through one of my links, I'll be rewarded with a small commission at absolutely no extra cost to you. This small commission helps me run and maintain my website.
Hijacking Links: On a Random Review Site
On this review site which happens to be in the MMO (Making Money Online) niche, there was an article written on a separate page about “How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?”
Within this article, there was an affiliate link that when I clicked on it went directly to this person’s personal review signup Page.
Scrolling down below to the end of the article, there were many comments by different people.
Here are but only 2 examples, but each DIFFERENT COMMENTER had a their OWN separate links all going to this same person’s personal review signup Page.
Scrolling down below to the end of the article, there were many comments by different people, here are but only 2 examples, but each DIFFERENT COMMENTER had a their OWN separate links all going to this same person’s personal review signup Page.
Now separately on a different page of the site, there was a review called “Is (Group Affiliate) a Scam? 10 Reasons Why It Is Not.”
This also included a link within the article that went directly to this person’s personal review Page.
At the bottom of this article, there were also comments made from DIFFERENT commenters containing links in them, where ALL the links went to the same person’s personal review signup Page.
So I asked various group members who I believe are trustworthy whose personal review page where ALL of the various links from this website were being directed to.
I asked them, "How could this be happening?"
At first, I truly had no idea.
Confounded by this, I began scratching my head.
I was trying to understand this, but couldn't wrap my head around it.
How could this have even been possible?
Could someone out there be hijacking links?
More specifically, could someone out there, some entity, be hijacking someone else’s links?
Shortly thereafter, I received a slew of great comments.
I will keep these comments all anonymous.
Now I would like to share these a few of these comments with you. I believe they are very telling and well-explained.
Our- Group Comments on "Is it Likely?"
Here is a comment from one member (let's call him the 1st member) of the group that supports hijacking links "it is not likely" with a good reason!
"There's no hijacking links going on 🙂
When someone leaves a comment on your page you can edit that comment and add relevant links to it if you choose to do so. So if someone leaves a comment asking about where to get the best training for making money online, you as the site owner could make it so that question links directly to your create account page.
When you add a relevant link to someone's question, there's nothing wrong with it. I personally tend to link in my reply, but if someone leaves a comment and asks "What do you think is the best keyword research tool out there for SEO?" and you turn the words "best keyword research tool out there for SEO" into a link to your (product name) review along with adding your reply, that's helping directly answer their question for future readers coming across this comment."
Now I will present a different 2nd member's comment on whether hijacking links were likely. He had a very unique take on this one, and believes it to be a GREAT and clever marketing tactic:
Smoking windows my friend, you gave us enough clues as to who this member was, and they are doing nothing wrong, it is ok to add links to replies on your own web content. I see so many of the tribe here not doing just that, so many opportunities missed.Some marketers even allow the folks that are visiting and commenting to leave links a practice I think is commonly referred to as backlinks.
The thing about WordPress sites is the " about me page ", and looking at it, what a wonderful piece of marketing, the references to a group of marketers creates this perception that you are dealing with an organization, top marks, we could all learn from that one.
If we are looking at websites the key is to track into that "about me page " it tells us a lot about the scope, direction, and purpose of a site.
Another thing to " bear" in mind is that (Group) offers lifetime cookies, which is rather unique in the industry, so folks may have come across (group) unwittingly and when they do come to sign up it can be under someone else." - Anonymous
Still, there was a 3rd group member who commented about whether hijacking links was likely. He made the keen observation that the affiliate was foolish as they did not include their OWN affiliate link with their unique ID designation that linked to the custom signup page in their review.
He also told me I did the affiliate marketer a favor by bringing it to their attention if they were reading this post, but also admitted he did not think they deserved it:
"Hi Kaju and (anonymous commenter), I am interrupting again because I am puzzled and something could be wrong on my side.
You keep speaking about affiliate links, so please see these two screenshots. The first is the comment you mentioned in the blog and the second is the landing page where I go when I click the link. So this is the page but there is no affiliate ID in the URL. Is it possible that you see it different?
There is no mystery. This (wo)man was just adding links into comments of other people. You left enough clue to find the site, so I have been there and have seen it.
So what (s)he is doing is bad. He/she can and should add links in his/her replies but adding links in comments of others is not the right way. You are right in asking "What if the individual leaving the comment has issues with it?"
But the person is doing it in a wrong way. You did not notice, (s)he was directing people to the (group) but without an affiliate id in it. So you misunderstood it, this was group landing page and not his/her own.
ALL LINKS ARE DONE WRONG, without his/her Id, even in the (Group) review, so (s)he is making money for Group owners only!!! Or at least I do not see any affiliate ID in the links.
Now, if (s)he reads this (s)he will be clever enough to rectify things. You did him/her a favor and me too, unfortunately, (s)he does not deserve it." - Anonymous
There were many more comments from other group members, and some simply reiterated these 3 previous main comments in different words.
After reading the sum total of all the excellent comments I received and comparing them to each other, I came to my own conclusion as to whether hijacking links would be likely.
My Conclusion: Is Hijacking Links Likely?
While everything I observed seemed very suspicious in the beginning, I have concluded after reading many comments and reviewing the evidence that hijacking links while possible is highly unlikely.
Most likely, the affiliate marketer was adding their own affiliate links which could direct any visitor to their signup page through the comments of others on their website.
I must say I agree with other group commenters that changing people's comments by adding your own promotional affiliate links is not the best practice. Although it is the affiliate marketer's website, he/she should not alter other people's comments as those commenters might take exception.
The general expectation is that the affiliate marketer website owner should only add affiliate links in their own REPLIES to those comments.
However, I also agree that changing other people's comments by adding your own promotional affiliate links is NOT illegal, and after all the website is the affiliate marketer owner's property.
Sadly, all of this extra work was to the detriment of the affiliate marketer website owner who changed those original comments.
They forgot or were not careful enough to include their own affiliate links with their affiliate ID rather than plain non-affiliate links to those comments and replies they worked so hard for.
As confirmed by our 3rd group member, unless they change them now if any visitor clicked on those links and bought something, the affiliate marketer would NOT make a commission!
My conclusion is that while almost nothing is impossible, it is highly unlikely that someone here was hijacking links through these comments.
And that affiliate marketer website owner also owes me (and to a lesser extent the other 3 group members) each a fine bottle of Bourdeaux for exposing them to their ever-costly mistake!