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Spam Link Requests

Frequently we receive requests to add links to the City’s website, ostensibly from well-meaning organizations. Actually, these requests are spammers’ attempts to generate free traffic to their websites to build their site’s traffic and rankings.  

They target government sites since Google allows us automatic prominent search engine rankings. An added benefit is that if they can gull government sites, it serves to “legitimize” them to other government sites and organizations which will then be more inclined to fall for their scam.

Online, search engine rankings and link traffic translates into dollars. The more prominent the scammers’ websites become in search results, the more that translates into income opportunities.

Here’s an example of a recent request:

Hi Lynn,

Not to take too much of your time, I’m working with the people from [name-of-website], and they have created a [resource, e.g. guide, review, article] designed to help people find [type-of-“helpful”-information]. This resource could be a great addition to what you already have listed.

-more info, e.g., the following other government sites are linking to us - 

Would you consider linking to our work from your site? We would love to see our [resource] listed on your site for your community. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you,
Requestor’s name
Website address

These requests are positioned to be helpful resources aligned with the City’s needs and supporting the interests of the community. They claim to be reaching out for purely altruistic reasons. They will contact multiple departments within the City, sending emails (in our case) to Public Safety, the Library, Communications and even directly to the City Manager, asking for links to be added to the City’s website.

Only on closer inspection of these websites, may it be revealed that they are for-profit businesses (although even nonprofits may try to bump their rankings this way). In many more cases, their websites make no reference to any physical business address or any contact options other than an email address. Even if they are purportedly selling online services, there is no information on specifically what those services are.
Some of these sites are shell websites, built out to look real, and to contain useful content (often cadged from other sites), but the entire site could be a fake, its only purpose being to provide a place to point the referral links.

Here’s another example link request:

Good Afternoon, 

I'm reaching out to request a fix to a broken link to [provides broken link] about [topic], which is located on your website. The broken link is located on this page: [provides City’s Web page address]
In order to provide your residents with an updated, working resource, are you be able to update this [topic] information? 

Here is the page you can update the broken link with: [provides a link to their “resource”]

Please feel free to reach out to me directly with any questions. Otherwise, thank you so much for helping get this information updated. 

Thank you,
Requestor’s name
Website address

This approach uses the helping-to-fix-your-broken-link ruse. They’ve identified a legitimately broken link on our website and suggest fixing it by providing a link to their website. 

Another strategy is for the spammers to reference “similar” content on our site and ask to be included in the listings. 

How to Respond to Link Requests

First, don’t accommodate them. If you get one, you may forward it to: communications@sunnyvale.ca.gov.

Currently our response is that we are in the process of redesigning our website and therefore not adding new links at this time. Our new website policy (pending) will state that we do not respond to, or accommodate, link requests.

It is time-consuming, and takes a level of knowledge, to determine the true nature of these sites. If you add “resources” to your Web pages with which the City has no affiliation, then there is a definite risk of supporting link spammers.

March 23, 2016 10:22 a.m.

Previous Tips

DNN and Internet Explorer (IE) 11 Problem and Solution

The Internet Explorer browser version 11 isn't compatible with our DNN system. In order to mitigate errors such as spacing issues, you will need to change the Compatibility Settings in IE11. Refer to the Fix for DNN Problem with IE11 document for directions with screenshots. 

January 22, 2016 11 a.m.

Page Moves/Page Name Changes

Be sure to check the inSunnyvale.com listing by departments file prior to requesting any page moves or page name changes to avoid broken inSunnyvale.com links. May 22, 2015 3:44 p.m.

Crossed Workflows Issue

The crossed workflows issue has been relatively quiet lately. If you experience any crossed workflows, please contact us immediately so we can correct them. September 8, 2014, 3:37 p.m.; rev. 5/22/15

Communications Requests

updated March 10, 2015

Please send all website, communications and social media related items to the Communications AP or call ext. 7535.

The following people will provide the following support on Sunnyvale.ca.gov:

Primary:  Lynn Stuart ext. 7905  and John Novicki ext. 7906 
Secondary: Claire Garcia ext. 7487 
Last Resort: Helen Kwan ext. 7556

Sunspot postings: Claire Garcia ext. 7487  

Social Media, KSUN Slides or Council Presentations: Communications AP, ext. 7535

Thank you,
Communications Division


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