The Desperate Lengths To Which Low Quality Sites Will Go Just To Get Noticed
Folks who aren't involved in website operations probably have no clue about the shake up that followed the release of Penguin - an algorithm developed by Google to weed out low quality websites. While I'm no fan of Google, I do agree that people should avoid low quality, spammy websites.
Unfortunately, the low quality spammy websites, seeing their bread and butter slowly begin to slip away from them, immediately started looking for ways to survive. Afterall, made for ads (MFA) websites aren't earning what they once did - particularly if the spammy website can't rank well in the search engines.
The old methods of cheating don't work so well anymore. Because the search engine bots are getting better at spotting scraped i.e. stolen and even autogenerated content, sites that crank out a lot of this sort of material fall further and further in the rankings. When that happens, people are less apt to see the website and click on its link.
This, of course, leads to less visibility and less money for the spammy webmaster (it's always about money in the end). So the spammy website owner becomes desperate and seeks help from a black hat search engine operator (SEO). As the adjective implies, these bad guys are always unscupulous and below board; they will promise their spammy website clients top rankings. And how do they do it?
Well, since the Penguin update, a lot of websites have been worried about Google penalties (algorithmic and manual). Fearing a drop in rankings, some of them send link removal requests to websites that have linked to their content.
Even though the world wide web thrives on links, some webmasters would prefer to cut ties with websites that they believe might be costing them traffic.
While I don't agree with this method, I can understand it. Unfortunately, if the worried webmasters cut off too many websites (in particular the authoritative sites with good PageRank), they could wind up harming themselves in the long run.
One Method Black Hat SEOs Use in an Attempt to Boost Their Clients' Rankings
But the more sinister side of this is when black hat SEO operators take advantage of these often times unfounded worries and use them to send fake link removal requests to the competitors of their spammy clients.
One way black hat SEO operators (also known as negative SEO operators) do this is to troll the links pages of their clients' competitors.
They collect a list of websites, create a fake email address (often from gmail or even one that closely resembles the domain name of their competitor) and will send out false emails to their clients' competitors. In these fake emails, the black hat SEO operators will contact their competitors' link partners (while pretending to be the competitor) saying they want the backlink removed.
Why would negative SEO operators do this? Simple: they hope that the link partner will take them at face value and remove the backlink, thereby lowering the ranking of their clients' competitors.
Since the release of Panda and Penguin, I've received a large volume of link requests and guest post requests from other websites (even though I explicitly state that I am no longer exchanging links with other websites).
On the surface the requests appear genuine, but the fact is these requests come largely from gmail accounts as opposed to a business email address. Moreover, they send these requests even though my policy on exchanging links and accepting guest posts are prominently displayed for all to see.
So, the requests are not genuine, they are sent for selfish gain.
Here's another sign of their desperation: I've also received emails that have been created using the domain of this website i.e. after the "@" symbol the email contains "livingfithealthyandhappy". The black hat SEO operators are so desperate to spam me (or too dumb to know better) that they contact me using a domain that I know is fake!
(Just the other day, another desperately frustrated black hatter contacted me - using a gmail account no less - asking for permission to do a "Web Needs Analysis". In addition to the email account being a tip off, the black hatter's last "name" was Diamond and his first "name" was identical to one of the largest jewelers in the nation. Finally, since he tacked the url of the SEO company that he claimed to work for at the bottom of the email, why did he use a gmail account instead of the one for his company?)
Sadly, folks, the bad guys will always be with us. There will always be people who would rather cheat than put in an honest day's work. We find them in all walks of life. Although the business world is competitive (and online business even more so since it involves millions of websites across the globe), low quality sites don't have what it takes and never will.
Ultimately it's about evolution. The world wide web is gradually changing (some changes are good, others are bad) and as with natural selection, those who can adapt will survive.
It takes hard work, love, determination, initiative, and drive to be successful in life. Since the spammy websites can only rely on cheating and cranking out trash in a desperate attempt to get even the smallest bit of attention, they'll continue to fall behind.
Google and Bing have given webmasters a way to deal with unwanted links; webmasters who have a Google account can make use of the disavow tool offered by Google Webmaster Tools (WMT), and Bing has a similar tool available to webmasters.
In other words, legitimate webmasters wouldn't need to send a link removal request since they can simply remove unwanted links themselves.
The black hat SEOs and their clients also seem to ignore the fact that search engine bots are getting much much better at detecting their dirty tricks and that cheating will get the black hatters and their spammy clients permanently banned from the search engines. Black hat SEOs and their clients obviously can't think that far ahead, which is why, in the end, they will fade out and cease to exist.
So to all the quality webmasters out there (big and small), make sure to fully vet the website that is asking you to remove a link.
I read a good piece of advice about this phenomenon: make sure that the domains match and check to see if your link is still there. (I would add that you should also make sure that includes everything before the "@" symbol, too.)
In the same vein, if someone asks to link to you, and you have a policy in place regarding link exchanges, stick to it because that's good business practice - only bad business people waffle on their policies (a sure indication of an unconfident businessman or businesswoman).
Stick to doing the right thing: providing quality content to your readers. In this way not only will you survive, you will also thrive. :)
And to all the black hat SEO operators out there: I've got no respect for liars and thieves, if you make the mistake of trolling around my website I will expose you.
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