Link Building

Should I Help This SEO Spammer or Should He Suffer?

By Larry Kim November 15, 2013 Posted In: Link Building Comments: 47

As the owner of a popular internet marketing blog (this one) that gets around a half million unique visitors / month, I’m used to getting all sorts of spam.

Every week I get dozens of requests to purchase links on my site (which I ignore), and every month, and we delete hundreds, possibly thousands of spammy blog comments and link drops.

But more recently I’ve been getting a different tune of spammy emails from SEO spammers, like this one asking for help with link removal:

Link Removal Request

Oh how the worm has turned…

I’m guessing their back-link profile is full of anchor-text-rich, no-followed blog comments and that Mr. Penguin doesn’t like that too much.

Seriously, what to do here – should I help out this SEO spammer or should he suffer?

Reasons to Help This SEO Spammer

  • We’ve all dropped a link with anchor text at some point in our lives. Heck I admit I’m guilty of having done this in the past, too.
  • He’s appears to be trying to clean up his act.
  • Better to take the high road and just help people out who need help.

Reason to Ignore this SEO Spammer

  • SEO spammers are the scum of the earth. They’ve given the entire SEO industry a bad name. Better if they just go bankrupt sooner rather than later for the sake of the rest of the industry.
  • The guy doesn’t even apologize for spamming my blog. Says he’s working to clean up “links that have been created on your website.” Hello! They’re links that you created!
  • The guy is clueless, still blog spamming even up to a few months ago?! (Hello, Penguin?)
  • I’ve wasted several days of my life just deleting and cleaning up comment spam in my blog comments. Why waste even more time now dealing with dozens of link removal requests.

So SEO community, what would you do in my situation? Blog owners, what are you doing when you get these link spam removal requests? I welcome your opinion in the comments! Spammy link drops will not be tolerated :)

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Comments

Friday November 15, 2013

Liviu (not verified) Said:

Tough decision :) I personally like the way he wrote you the mail, pretty balanced, but I would have preferred some kind of excuse (let bygones be bygones). What I don't understand and I'm not sure what to believe, is: can he be the same spammer who commented with that anchor text or someone else who took the role of cleaning up bad links? You can reply and further test him. And act upon the satisfaction of his answer. Or maybe he'll read your post and tell us the real story here :)

Friday November 15, 2013

David (not verified) Said:

Hmm...

I think the person is not making a decent enough effort to resolve the issue I would decline the request.  If they were recently spamming your blog recently and now just waking up to the fact that it's a shit link building strategy I would ignore it.

You could follow these bloggers and make a public notice that it's not acceptable and name the company doing it http://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/chutzpam or with http://damionbrown.com/2012/07/realinsurance-sorry-we-spammed-you-please-remove-our-spam/ and alsohttp://www.internetevolution.com/author.asp?doc_id=247101 funny thing it's the same company RealInsurance that was caught out...
------------------------------------------------------------
Disclosure: I have done a handful of half-arsed comments for one of my affiliate sites and it now makes $3-5 a month so Karma is a bitch :)

Friday November 15, 2013

Mahesh Mohan (not verified) Said:

And in this email they didnt' mention that those links will hurt your website... When I get such requests they mention that if I dont remove the link then they will disavow links and then warns me that it will affect my website's ranking.

Monday November 18, 2013

Larry Kim (not verified) Said:

 i've seen those "take down the links or else" emails. unbelivable.

Friday November 15, 2013

Anthony (not verified) Said:

I think it depends on what type of site they are promoting and who the person is writing the email.

If they are the person who planted all of the bad links while promoting a low quality website/product, I would consider not helping them out. 

However, if they are someone who is helping a business that made a mistake hiring the wrong person in the past or they have a legit site/product, I would probably help them.

 

 

Friday November 15, 2013

Thomas Ballantyne (not verified) Said:

Want to know what bothers me the most about a lot of these link removal requests?

Well I will tell you. They are AUTOMATED link removal requests. Spammy spam spam spam. They just blast them out there. They are using the same automated crap that got them in trouble. I got a link removal request from a very large national competitor of mine the other day. Blasted out to "Undisclosed recipients", and it simply said that my site was linking to them and they wanted me to remove the link... No URL to where the link was they wanted removed. Heck, they didn't even specifiy which website!

Ughhh...

To me it doesn't seem like spamming out link request removals is changing their habits.

 

Friday November 15, 2013

DWJL (not verified) Said:

Two comments.  First, I remove links that people want.  Usually they are just misguided, because my websites are good, but...whatever.  However, one spmmer had gotten by me and last week asked for me to remove his link.  I told him that normally I would not charge, but because he spammed me, his link was not supposed to be there in the first place, so here is the price for my trouble.

The second comment is that legit blog comments are just as dangerous.  I use my name when commenting.  I can use variations of my name (first, last, together, innitials, append an @ with some variation of my business name, etc.)  But there is no getting around that if you spend enough time interacting on blogs, your backlink profile will be heavily skewed towards your name as anchor text, rather than for the products or services your customers seek.  And that worries me on so many levels.

Friday November 15, 2013

Dove Global Media (not verified) Said:

Here's my problem...

I received e-mails from the same group of people asking to take links off of one of my sites.. I took the sever down and for 2 months I received e-mails asking to take down links on a particular site. I responded several times saying the site is not longer online and all links have been terminated.. They still send the same e-mails requesting links every other day and it finally stopped after I kept reporting as spam.

I think they do it to check if your e-mail is legit. 

Friday November 15, 2013

Paul Levy (not verified) Said:

I usually reply that I'll be happy to do so if they pay for my time to correspond, remove link, check page and invoice them at my hourly rate. Fair? Paul

Friday November 15, 2013

SD (not verified) Said:

How about charging them a nominal fee for your time? Set up a form and paypal button. Charge them $5-10 dollars. If they are serious, they can pay. After all, they put the spam link there, not you. If they are paying a third party to clean up, then that party can pass along the request or upcharge the client.

Saturday November 16, 2013

Dries (not verified) Said:

What i do: unless the comment isn't adding extra value and/or the link contains even one generic keyword, i don't approve the comment. People don't want to read crap. So i'm very harsh

Saturday November 16, 2013

David Quaid (not verified) Said:

I'm currently going through the same process. The whole thing is crazy - so much spam was created in,  most likely, sweat shop conditions overseas. I know many of the "fronts" who sell links - pretend to be in the US or EU but the work is done in countries where the $ and the € is weak.

If the spammer knows exactly where to go, chances are good they're the same. The e-mail looks nice (yet oddly mechnical).

A forum owner I know requests that a donation be made to a charity - which I thought was a nice way to return some sort of balance or zen to this but now Google have said that people shouldn't have to pay and if a payment request is made, Google will honour the disavow.

So, good folks like you, who've had to deal with spam for years, will now have to do the clean up and admin for free!

There's another, very odd thing that just keeps nagging at me - the famous Interflora penalty. That was manual,  not automatic, because the automatic demote has to reindex ALL the links. Yes, Interlora is probably recrawled by the hour but the sites they sent IBL's to - aren't all equal. That it was done and dusted in 2 weeks is one thing. The fact that they returned to number one begs more questions

1. What was the point? If they returned to number 1 - what good were the links?

2. They had the Remove link e-mails ready to go.

I don't know - it doesnt sit right.

Saturday November 16, 2013

Andre Hospidales (not verified) Said:

Sounds harmless enough but something's not quite right about this, and I cannot put my finger on it cos you just cannot trust a spammer. The fact that its a pretty generic email that's not directly addressed to you is a little irritating but probably not a big deal. But there's probably a hidden agenda here. Sorry, I don't buy the "clean up my act" act. As someone else pointed out, they might be doing this to check your email is legit. 

Saturday November 16, 2013

Nichole (not verified) Said:

You forgot one key benefit of helping - karma or link karma in this case. Over the years I've been in the industry, I've seen my fair share of link spam and played the housekeeping role when companies hire cheap link builders and then get slapped with a penalty later. Spam sucks, every good SEO and business owner that has a victim of spam knows that. My philosophy is that if the community of good SEO's helps to educate others that may not have had the benefits of experience and education on effective, unspammy SEO, we create a better reputation for ourselves.

Saturday November 16, 2013

Reginald (not verified) Said:

This reminds me of an incident recently. I received several emails from one site asking me to remove some comment links. It is pretty funny since the webmaster said he wanted to put me on disavow. I basically lol-ed at it and told him off not to use black hat tools anymore. And yes, I removed the link and even blacklisted him. Epic story I would say? Tha ks for sharing your side of the story! Reginald

Saturday November 16, 2013

Matt Hepburn (not verified) Said:

I would remove his links if they are on your site.  God forbid, out of spite he submits your site to the disavow tool just because he did not like your response.  As long as the links are on your site I say remove them.  If they are backlinks he is looking help removing on third party sites, consider a heafty fee or ignore him.

 

Matt Hepburn

 

 

Saturday November 16, 2013

Evan (not verified) Said:

So much seo is blackhat but doesn't have to be. I guess not everyone has content that people actually want to link to so they link spam. I don't honeslty know if facebook gives inlinks but that would kind of be hilarious if people were doing that on facebook for some reason, lol. What is the first thing someone should do when they have a brand new site to promote it? I have a bit to learn.

 

thanks,

-Evan

Sunday November 17, 2013

joseph (not verified) Said:

IGNORE IT!

yeah, ditto, i totally agree about seo spammers, just ignore the email, 

 see what he does next, if anything...

if he emails again, then just say you never got the first email, tell him your spam filter ate it... lol

i would also identify the spammer and list his site without the dot com and show the whole world what kind of scum he really is

just my opinion

Sunday November 17, 2013

joel klein (not verified) Said:

:) Help him.

  1. The guy who askes to remove the stuff, is not nesserly the one created the links.
  2. your punihing the compeny not him, he will be slick enogh to blame something else for the ManualAction
  3. Be the big guy here
  4. make the web a better place by removing the crap.
  5. you know he is despret, and he will eventually disavow all links and he would be reconsidered (after the 3rd try)

Sunday November 17, 2013

Haroun Kola (not verified) Said:

I like the idea of charging them for your time and effort. Is this one of the comments that you missed when cleaning out the spam from your comments or was it a worthwhile comment?

I'm just wondering for if it was a worthwhile comment that spammer left on your site, it should be a valid link back to their site.

Sunday November 17, 2013

Jason Chan (not verified) Said:

I would determine if what his website is before helping or denying help. If it's a legit website and he's trying to grow it but is hindered by the links then I would give him a chance but if it was a spammer with an affiliate website or really spammy/scammy website then I would just let him suffer.

In this case, I would not help them since it does sound pretty spammy in my opinion. I don't enough about the story to say anymore.

Have a great day! - Jason

 

Monday November 18, 2013

George (not verified) Said:

This subject is very interesting to me. I help businesses to remove their links so I am one of those emailing you guys requesting you to delete some llinks.

First, I don't help anyone trying to remove links, I really take into account if the person is pure spam (which I don't help) or a real business that hired the wrong company in the past.

Sedning emails requesting link removals is mostly what I do, however I  write every single email myself 100% by hand. I always offer to pay for the removal, why? well people are willing to spend money on removing links because they are loosing money since they lost all rankings. 

I believe you blog owners should take this as a new business opportunity, this is a new way to make money guys, why don't you take it? We all know that SEO changes very often so take this as a new way to bring income to your business. Men I started doing link removals because people are paying for it!

Now when I send the emails, I'm very delicated about it as I know that you are a busy person and there is no reason for you to help me. I always use a casual tone so I don't sound like an automated message. I don't apologize because what my clients did in the past was working for them, it is only after Google is making changes that those links are now considered spam.

When someone doesn't reply me the first time yes I try again and I try up to 3 times but I don't just forward you the same message again and again. I really believe you are a busy person and that you hate spam (me too), so instead I send you follow up messages but I make them sound different, if that doesn't help I will end up disavowing the link and stop all emails.

So my conslusion is that not all the emails you are receiving are from spammers, it is entirely up to you if you decide to get involved or not but hey you can make money while making the web a better place removing all crap. I think the link removal industry will grow so you will only see more and more emails in the futtre, take advantage of the opportunity!

Thanks,

George

Monday November 18, 2013

Christina (not verified) Said:

Speaking as someone who unfortunately has had to come in and clean up another's mess, I say give the poor guy the benefit of the doubt and remove the link.

Before I was hired, the company I now work for outsourced their SEO and that company's spammy practices put our website in penalty. Working to clean up a link profile is no small feat, and while some may be quick to condemn, I'd like to believe that they have the best of intentions.

Sometimes, as was the case with my company, it was simply a business that fell victim to some blackhat SEO that was trying to make a quick buck and preys on business owners that don't know any better.

As long as the request seems genuine and it's not a "take down or else" type situation, I think a little good will goes a long way.

 

Monday November 18, 2013

Peter from Cyberma Corp (not verified) Said:

I am not that sure, if the question is correct in the first place :) In fact, your readers suffer because of all that spam or you do when deleteing it.  I am surprised how hard these spammers work. I leave my blogs without attention for a few days, and I need to delete tens of spammy comments - and even worse, they are repeated same comments. Grrr.

They deserve nothing by suffering. I agree that they should pay for your time - $5 - 10 might be ok, but there might be a low chance they will accept it - they would have to pay a fortune to delete all their crap :D 

For them, it would be easier to start with a new domain.

 

Regards,

Peter.

Tuesday November 19, 2013

dinesh (not verified) Said:

Hi Larry, I am sorry I m not discussing about this spammer but I need a favor, My home site also affected by Mr. penguin this time and now my site not in top 100 while I have changed my backlinks from anchor text to naked url. What other strategy should I apply and how much time it will take to get back its ranking? While my all backlinks are from related websites and forums. And I have mixed ration of do-follow and no-follow links. I think I tried to maintain top commentators on some big websites(sitewide links) from anchor text. It might be a reason.

Tuesday November 19, 2013

Kurt Henninger (not verified) Said:

I get these emails ALL the time.  Particularly on some of my older affiliate sites.

 

For me, a small fee ($5-$10) from the sender would cover the costs of paying someone (or you) to spend a couple minutes to dig into the comments section and at least remove the URL.

 

I know it sounds harsh and "unfair", but it not your fault that someone tried to game Google and insert keyword rich anchor text into a comment.

 

Please, don't tell me they didn't "think" they knew what they were doing when they tried to comment drop for a good link.

 

My 2 cents at least.

Wednesday November 20, 2013

Josh (not verified) Said:

I don't think I would waste my time fixing someone's problems.  He say's he's trying to clean up his act?  He's still just trying to game the system, that's not cleaning up your act.  We all try to figure out how to rank better in Google, but spamming blogs with links doesn't seem to add value to anyone.

Thursday November 21, 2013

Mr Marketology (not verified) Said:

Larry

I would say take the high road and remove it.  But only when you have time and nothing better to do.  Who knows you may build a friend in the process :)

But seriously, it seems as if he did a template email for the removal.  He may have been victim of a link building service gone rouge and is trying to clean up his act.  

Jeff

 

Thursday November 21, 2013

Daniel (not verified) Said:

What if he's the new SEO for a client who used a spammy one before?

Maybe there are thousands of these links and writing a personalised email for all of them would take far too much time.

 

Friday November 22, 2013

MarketingMaley (not verified) Said:

If you could guarantee that it was him that is responsible for all the spam links, then I would not be kind to him!

But then it might not have been his doing, he could be repairing the damage of someone else/an agency that did the work.

I can definitely emphasise this as being a new starter to SEO, we currently have a consultant that does our SEO for us and he has gone and got us a lovely manual penalty for spamming awful paid links. Now, this is somthing I might have to repair in future and it would be very frustrating if people always refused to remove the links, as it was not me that put them there!

 

Friday November 22, 2013

Jake Bohall (not verified) Said:

Hey Larry,

I'd offer to remove it for a small fee .. $5 - $10..  This buys you a glass of wine to enjoy while taking some spam off of your site.    

I've been working with many companies that are trying to clean-up their backlink profile (Remove'em), and you find a lot of these are SMBs that made the mistake of outsourcing some link dev, and half the time they had no idea this was going to blow up until it did.    I wouldn't give them a hard time for not apologizing, as this is likely a templated email that went out to every site with an anchor text specific link, regardless of how it was built.   

Good luck!

Friday November 22, 2013

Bob (not verified) Said:

How would you handle links this.

Our SEO company left a blog article comments turned on. Probably figured the comments must be approved before they show.

Bots are being used to add comments to the database and have built around 4,000 links on other sites pointing to our blog. 

To say the least the site pages no longer rank with 98% of the links being from unrelated sites and containing random anchor text.

The SEO guys only say we need to build a new site and let them SEO it correctly.  Funny they put the blog in to help SEO.

Monday November 25, 2013

instantaphex (not verified) Said:

I've never gotten one of these, but I have sent a bunch of them out.  The problem in my situation is that I didn't buy any of these links.  I am just tasked with cleaning them up.  I'm sure my emails get annoying to some, but I'm just doing my job, as well as listing the pages that the links are on and where they are linking to.

Thursday November 28, 2013

Sophie (not verified) Said:

I would definitely be tempted to ignore it; it's not worth your time to help this spammer, and if you have this one who knows how many more will start filling your inbox with removal requests. 

I don't think this guy is to blame, he may just be clearing up an old mess in fairness. 

Tuesday December 03, 2013

Gilbert (not verified) Said:

aww, have mercy on him :(

Wednesday December 04, 2013

Spook Seo (not verified) Said:

Tough decision to make but yes we still have to decide: To help or not. I guess, first we should consider the pros and cons. is helping him beneficial to both parties? Is it helping me in some ways like promoting my site? Well, for me after taking all the considerations, my decision will be a no. why? because spam as we all know annoys and misleads the readers. it distracts the attention of people trying to concentrate and understand what there been up to. 

Monday December 16, 2013

Akash (not verified) Said:

I feel you should ignore him, I salute you for reading so many mails and link request.  

Tuesday December 17, 2013

Serge (not verified) Said:

haha "they're links that you created"

First of all, there are MORE arguments for not helping. Second of all, probably it will be right to ignore - not to help -
and it will not be bad. Because it is also a lesson. They must learn to put themselves onto other's place. Then they 
will be able to figure out that they were doing wrong. 
 

Wednesday December 18, 2013

Anonymous (not verified) Said:

I get several of these types of email a month. I just delete them.  Why? We are simply the hosts for the sites mentioned in the email and unless the client requests it or it violates or TOS we don't have time to get involved in spammers attempts to fix the problems they created.

Friday January 17, 2014

Syed Muzammil (not verified) Said:

i suggest that you should help the webmasters and SEOs because me myself had done this spamming in the past. i mean to leave a comment with commercial anchor text but know i make sure to avoid it and do ethical SEO. Hope you gonna help webmasters to remove spammy links and this will help your blog to get rid of spammy outbound links. 

Tuesday March 18, 2014

Omnilogy man (not verified) Said:

Thanks for the topic! Right now I removed 2 links, because they wanted us to remove them and I do agree that "This will be beneficial to both our sites". smiley

Thursday March 27, 2014

Paul Hafalla (not verified) Said:

Thank you Larry for posting this.  Finally, I found the article that will help me out on how to handle this situation.  My website which is a blog is also a victim of SPAM through guest posting (contributor page) and paid article writing (various categories) with anchor text.  I am now annoyed receiving such email similar to this and WORRIED and confused if "should I delete the link or not."  If you're in my situation, please look at my blog and help me what should I do. I need further advice.  Thanks. sad

Tuesday April 29, 2014

Josh (not verified) Said:

Link removal and link clean up packages are in huge demand at the moment. Thus have gone up in price! I dont feel sorry for spammer but do feel sorry for the guys hit with negitive SEO.

Friday May 02, 2014

Jeff (not verified) Said:

I would say help the poor guy out. I purchased a local company with the domain and all the bad SEO they had done. It took me months to get the links removed. I ran into many people who basically said F*** You. I understand their frustration and a few of them understood my frustration. While this person could have handled the request a little better. With a I'm sorry and atleast an excuse. He is still trying to take his dream and move forward in the correct way. For all we know he is a victim of negative SEO or even a bad SEO company. There are just to many varibles to judge the person on. I know when I get these requests now I always help the person out as I know and have lived through the headaches.

Thursday May 22, 2014

barefootmeg (not verified) Said:

Make them pay for removal. A friend charged $300 to remove 25 spam comment links and they paid up. It's a win-win. They get what they want and you get a little extra chashola. 

Friday June 13, 2014

grover (not verified) Said:

I am getting these requests all the time, too. But none of them are for links that were in comments, they are high quality links on a busy website. Which makes me think that there's something else going on here under the surface.

Could it be that the person requesting the link removal is actually not a representative of the company they claim, but instead someone trying to remove the links of a competitor?

 

Tuesday August 05, 2014

Mark (not verified) Said:

I have actually gotten a few of these emails, but I didn't find any links to the website on my page. I assumed it was some sort of phishing tactic so I deleted the email and moved on. I had no idea they were real emails.

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