Why you should create a ‘honeypot’ page

Software piracy is a fact of life for vendors of desktop software. Take a look at Google’s helpful suggestions if you search on the name of one of my products:


Trying to make your software crack-proof is a fools errand. But one simple thing you can do is create a ‘honeypot’ page to try to convert people searching for a cracked version of your software. If you search for a crack for my software, here is what comes up in first place:


Yep, it’s a page on my website. If you click the link you will be taken through to a page explaining the (very real) dangers of downloading cracks and why you should buy a licence. I did some basic on-page SEO to get it to rank for my product name and terms such as ‘crack’, ‘keygen’ and ‘warez’. Then I linked to it from the website sitemap. Nothing clever, but it works. I have averaged a sale per month for the last 10 years from people clicking through onto this page. Given the inadequacies of conversion tracking, the real number of sales could be significantly higher. And it didn’t take long to create the page.

I can’t remember where the idea for a honeypot page came from, but it wasn’t my idea. Feel free to make a version of the page for your own product, but please don’t copy the exact wording. That would be copyright infringement. ;0)

14 thoughts on “Why you should create a ‘honeypot’ page

  1. David W Hyde

    I’ve had my own for a while – Google “DPlot crack”. I have no idea how many purchases this has resulted in or even how often that page is visited, but it made me feel good to do it. :)

    “but please don’t copy the exact wording. That would be copyright infringement. ;0)”
    Mine is a mostly word-for-word copy and dates Aug 2015. But as I recall the original was Dexter Bell, who offered this up on the ASP newsgroups and encouraged copying. But as with many other things I may be wrong!

    1. Andy Brice Post author

      I think I copied the idea, not the wording. But it was 10 years ago and I don’t recall exactly. Your page is different enough to mine that it isn’t a problem.

  2. Paul

    It sounds like a great trick… up until the moment Google tweaks its algorithms and decides you must be distributing licence key cracks and should be punished for it.

  3. Bob Warfield

    Google is certainly smart enough to know whether the site has many pages similar to the crack honeypot page and whether there is anything to actually download from the page. They will know from your site’s history a lot about it’s reputation too, as well as what sorts of sites link to it. They will have solved the problem of knowing whether you’re talking about cracks or offering cracks as it is going to be a problem for people talking about helping with security versus breaking it.

    I like this idea and have made a page to be found by “G-Wizard Crack”. We’ll see how long it takes Google to index it and how well it ranks relative to the real g-wizard crack results, LOL.

  4. Akito

    There are billions of programs out there, doing really simple things on Windows and they want you to pay ~30$ for it (or even a subscription). That’s just a rip-off and the reason why they can allow themselves these prices is because usually they have no opponents in this niche. (So much for monopolies don’t exist…)

    Do you know what type of software is the most valuable in the world?
    It’s called “open source”, just google it.

    An example for why “piracy” SHOULD exist:
    Just look at the video game industry. Corrupt as hell, no independent journalism at all and too many many times people pay full retail price (60$-70$) for products that don’t even work at all (*cough* Batman PC port… *cough*).

    1. Akito

      Somehow the first paragraph of my post didn’t get published:
      Signs like the Google search suggesting the things shown in your article, are symptoms of the disease, which can be generally (not always) defined as your software being much too expensive for what it delivers. I am more than happy to pay a fair price for fair products.

      1. Akito

        Also regarding the “risks” of getting so-called “pirated” software are almost 0 if getting it from a trusted demo group. Those people are a million times more trustworthy than any capitalistic or even monopolistic enslaving big company out there.

        Here an example of those stupid, stupid people who crack games:


        “As of writing (2012) Magnus “Pantaloon” Sjöberg works as lead software engineer at Digital Illusions. Pontus “Bacchus” Berg works in telecom. Fredrik “Gollum” Kahl is now professor in mathematics at Lunds universitet. Per “Zike” Carlbring is a professor in clinical psychology at Stockholm university.[1] Tony “Strider” Krvaric emigrated to the United States in 1992 and is the current chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County. [4]”

        They are incredibly uneducated, aren’t they?

      2. Andy Brice Post author

        Even if I charged $0.01 it would be too much for some people.

        If you don’t think my software is worth the price, then don’t buy it. Just in case you aren’t sure I have a free trial and a 14 day money back guarantee.

      1. a

        Open source, means access to the source code is free, BOTH libre and gratis. Recently I saw a nice example, forget what it’s called, but it’s a program that allows you to share a mouse and keyboard between multiple computers. The code is open source, but they make money by giving paid binary releases.
        This is great for everyone. Most people will just buy the trusted official binaries, to avoid hassle of compiling and risk of downloading from an untrusted source, while people in the know are not locked out of helping the development due to possible money issues.
        There are a lot of people who have a LOT of free time, but no money by American standards.
        As an example, I am a Polish student. I have free time on weekends, and a couple of hours free every day, but for me, 250 dollars is a whole year’s worth of savings. And that’s a lot of money compared to people in places like Brazil, Africa, India (Asia in general), etc.

  5. Alexandru C.

    Well this feels like a little trolling but I get your point of view. I never to use this with my software, just to make some licence or crack pages just to show up in search results. Maybe it’s a good thing to track that page in detail and see how many ips are trying to crack your software per month and the conversion rate from there. Plus, maybe block those ips or have a shame list?

  6. zka77

    I have a honeypot page like that and it probably helps. IPs which are flagged to have visited this page have a ~6.8% purchase ratio. My normal conversion ratio is about 10% download 2 sale.

    Most people who are looking for a crack can not or will not purchase. But many of them can be persuaded. Banning their IP addresses or shaming them would definitely lose revenue.

    Other interesting infos: There is no working crack for my product. I offer a no questions asked money back guarantee. I suspect abuse of the guarantee in about 1-2% of the refund requests. I had someone purchase and ask for a refund in ~5 mins once or twice over 3300+ sales. Abuse is VERY rare, people who purchase are pretty much all honest. Even if they stumbled upon my crack page beforehand.

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