26 Mar 2013

I’m Breaking Up with You and Taking My Links with Me

What happens when you’re contacted to remove a link from your web site because it has cooties according to Google?

It happened to me last week. I suspected the person from the SEO Company who contacted was fairly new to search engine marketing. I could have let the email go and trashed it. But lately it seems as though shady SEO practices are escalating again and I can’t bear to keep silent. I replied to the poor gentleman that I wanted to see the proof of the violations against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines my link broke. If you’re going to accuse me of doing something illegal as per Google, back it up.

linkmanOf course there was no reply. I spent some time trying to find the offending link. That was fun, since the blog post that was causing this tragic disturbance was 8 years old. Since my blog was launched in 2002, there are heaps of posts buried and gone to MySQL heaven. My first attempt to try a plug-in to get to my 2005 posts failed and then I thought, why in the world am I trying to find an 8 year old blog post with a link to an article I wrote about?

Maybe it was the topic I thought. My post was on “booth babes” during an outcry over them being present at a search engine marketing conference. I wrote “How Much Is That SEO Hunk in The Window?” and linked to another blog post that pertained to my post. That’s it. Now, 8 years later and many scary Google algorithms later, I was asked to remove it?

Thinking maybe I was missing something, I asked about this at Cre8asiteforums in a discussion called Asked to Remove Link from 2005 Blog Post – Huh?. One member suggested I do as I’m asked because “If you don’t, they’ll do it with the disavow tool and that could affect the site.”

Google Has SEO by the Throat

On the one hand, I don’t blame Google for defending the Castle at Mountain View. After all, new generations of SEO’s are pulling all kinds of crazy stunts to rip off people who believe early SEO mythology about rank, links and faking it. In fact, I got so fed up with this repeat performance from the 1990’s kind of SEO I created Seo Hall of Shame – Are You Kidding Me? One wonders after all these years of conferences, books, blogs, courses, forums and professional resources, why we still get things like:

“We can make your website on 1st page placement on Google, Yahoo, or Bing in three to six months guaranteed with our “National SEO” package!”

“Cre8Asiteforums.com Team, I thought you might like to know some of the reasons why you are not getting enough Social Media and Organic search engine traffic for Cre8Asiteforums.com”

“…and get the NEW linking service that we have recently developed in response to all the new search engine knowledge and algorithm changes at Google. This service has been thoroughly tested and is getting terrific results. It WILL BOOST your search engine rankings – Guaranteed!”

What I don’t agree with Google on is their approach to managing bad SEO practices. They dole out penalties and change their rules, come up with newfangled ways to let them know who is credible or not until that blows up, and every time Matt Cutts shows up at a conference, he brings down more Sacred Tablets from the Mountain with new Google Laws to abide by.

And of course, from where I sit, being into the human user experience side of web site design and marketing, this is all more fun than watching General Hospital. Nothing ever dies at Google. It just comes back as some other character.
Everyone gets to decide how they’ll handle a link removal request. Barry Schwartz is not giving into the pressure, nor are some members at Cre8asiteforums. Nor am I. If somebody really believes a link from my sites is going to bring them to Google’s knees, they can break up with me. I don’t care. I know I’ve done nothing wrong in our relationship, and when I ignore your request and threats of disavow or whatever, and head towards the door, I’m taking all my cherished links with me.

Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net