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  1. #1
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    Program no longer affiliated with (long time) appearing in invalid links question
    I know that a merchant I might no longer be affiliated with can still show up under the invalid links and it may have been a link that had appeared in an email from the merchant to me....but what would the reason be for an invalid link appearing if I hadn't been affiliated with that merhcant for probably well over 2 years that only had a 120 day cookie?

  2. #2
    Comfortably Numb John Powell's Avatar
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    Wouldn't that indicate a link that you failed to find and remove and was clicked recently? The cookie length isn't a factor then.

    Could you do a search for the merchant id number on your site's local files?


  3. #3
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    "Wouldn't that indicate a link that you failed to find and remove and was clicked recently?"

    That's how I'm thinking it means, too. Since I learned about the find and replace feature, have been able to accomplish sooooo much and soooo much easier.

    I did use that find feature and it showed it was looking through all of my pages and it found nothing with that merchant id. Was 99.999 sure I wouldn't have had any links anywhere on my site unless something really weird was going on cos it had only been on one page. That's why it seems so weird that I should have any invalid link from that merchant.

    Thought maybe an old newsletter but this woulda been two years ago and at that time only had 1 person signed up who either wasn't a relative or an affiliate manager lol and according to the stats back then they didn't open it when sent to them. (that and fact the free newsletter became one I had to pay for, the newsletter was dropped before I had any more subscribers)

    Odds of me even having placed that particular merchant in that newsletter are pretty slim, odds of that one person not having opened it back then but keeping it for two years is even weirder, then odds of that one lonely person having kept it all that time and suddenly open it now and clicking on the link seems even weirder to comprehend having happened. lol

    So....can't reasonably figure out how there could be any link having been clicked that would be associated to my site. lol

  4. #4
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    Two other possibilities:

    (1) I've seen a number of posts recently about Google storing affiliate links within its database, and sometimes treating those as regular merchant links.

    (2) Some unscrupulous "scraper" may have copied (the older version of) your site, including your affiliate links. These folks also tend to use tricks to block referring-URL tracking since they are often engaged in other nefarious activities.

  5. #5
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    hmmm never heard of Google doing that. That's very interesting. If the cookies have long expired, that's something I'm sure the merchants are happy Google's doing since it gives them a free link out there showing for them.

    ooooh those words "nefarious activities".....was afriad to think of that possibility. Don't expect anybody to try to educate me on this topic lol but I'm totally clueless when it comes to scraping sites and what all that implies except from what I gather is definitly not something that would make me happy if I became a victim to that.

    If that were to have been the reason, if it's my affiliate link, what would they be accomplishing by doing that, tho? And....probably really a dummy question but is there any way that I can tell if somebody has scraped my site?

    I know have just fairly recently gotten access to some stats I've been looking at and they show links to my site supposedly coming from a couple of foreign forums, which don't have a clue who these people would be lol but that could be innocent enough, correct? Somebody from another country could somehow find my site and like it and post about it or maybe even umm borrow without telling me lol an image and use it as an avatar or something. (I have found my images that people have borrowed lol and placed in forums umm not stating that they were mine that had links back to my site but didn't realize it I guess) Don't think they'd be nefarious....just not very ethical of them or nice, tho.

  6. #6
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    Mark is exactly right -- it is very possibly showing up because someone used a program to crawl your site, downloaded it to their harddrive, and now accesses your pages locally on their own machine. They may have done that months ago.

    I use a cgi script called "Robot Rat" to detect the IP of all spiders that go through my sites, and then I ban all of them that are unrelated to Google; Yahoo; MSN; or Ask. I only host my sites at ISP's that provide cPanel, so banning them is extremely simple by using the "IP Deny" feature.

    This works well as long as it is realized that they've already scraped your site the one time -- all you can do is keep these creeps from coming back. At this point I have many dozens of IPs being banned, so that at least gives me a little satisfaction.

    .

  7. #7
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    I have 2 offline merchants show on my "invalid link report" every once in a while. I'm 100% sure their links were taken out long time ago. I was wondering why they kept showing on my "invalid link report", not every day, but once in a while. I thought it was SAS's system error and simply ignored it at all time.

    Good thing that purplebear brought this up. My question is, will it hurt my site if I don't do anything like ban ID or something else as you guys suggested?

  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador purplebear's Avatar
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    ok, have to fess up to my dumminess

    "because someone used a program to crawl your site, downloaded it to their harddrive, and now accesses your pages locally on their own machine. They may have done that months ago"

    If I were to go on the assumption that this could've happened. In order for this particular link to have been clicked....had to have been a few years ago that it happened. So... worst scenario - what does that mean to my site if that is what happened? and what can I do to negate whatever it is that happened or stop from continuing to happen? Guess my big question tho is how would I find out if that had happened?

    Still a little confused tho. Why would it be my affiliate link? Wouldn't a bad guy change my affiliate link to be theirs if this is what they had done?

    "IP of all spiders that go through my sites"

    Would they be the hosts (top 25) that list a bunch of unknown or unresolved ip or would they be what's listed under the robots/spider visits? (altho my cpanel doesn't list them as ip for robot/spider visits) Hosts (top 25 is only thing I see that are ip)

    As for the cgi script.... waaay over my head. Unfortunately I only have a high school education, no computer background or anything. I'm just proud of myself for having learned what html I have cgi scripts are waaay past my computer knowledge level. lol

    My site has been at a host with the cpanel just since around November and this is all new to me. I haven't discovered the deny feature yet.

    So guess to start to figure out if something has happened...is there a way that's ummm fairly simple for a computer non smarty person to know if someone has scraped their site?? Then if so, guess I'd have to know if there's anything I can do about it.

  9. #9
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    Those affiliate URLs might be still floating around in search engine indexes (like MSN has tons of them).

  10. #10
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    purplebear,

    If the reason for this has to do with someone having downloaded your pages, then I don't see how that can hurt you with search engines or with SAS, etc when they click your links from their local machine. If anyone has a different thought about this, I'll stand corrected.

    The cgi script I use is fairly easy to install, but you are right to not tackle it unless you feel really confident. A good webmaster could do that for you however. The way I set it up was to place the "bot detection" code at the bottom of a very minor lower level page. That way, not only do I know what bots hit it, but I also know when one of the major engines does a deep crawl (as opposed to just hitting the top level main pages).

    BTW, the "IP Deny Manager" is under the Security section of cPanel.

    .

  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador 2busy's Avatar
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    There are bots that crawl the net looking for links and those links end up on MFA sites ("directories") all around the world. I have seen my affiliate links on directories in Italy and my own internal links to various pages on sites in India. I do use a robots.txt file to try to keep out the 'badbots' but there are new versions all the time. IP banning via .htaccess works better but as mentioned above that can only happen after the fact.

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