This is what I’m hearing from a ton of site owners and their SEO firm representitives in countless emails over the past few weeks, begging me to spend my time cleaning up their messes for them.
Here’s how it started:
Over the past couple years, businesses and website owners contracted with shady little self-proclaimed SEO/Internet Marketing gurus (most of whom I suspect were really just teenagers [or adults] working from their parent’s basements with a pirated copy of BookMarkingDemon, SENuke or some similar type of automated link spamming software).
So these businesses/site owners contracted these people to go around the web and drop their spammy links anywhere and everywhere that they could. From using crappy machine-written articles mass suubmitted to thousands of article directories to posting unreadable comments on thousands of blogs to creating tens-of-thousands of fake profile pages on forums and other community sites.
There were even a couple of brazen creeps over at the Warrior Forum selling monthly lists of community sites where these other creeps could go spam their links via fake profile creations. I’m not ashamed to say I wish for sudden and painful ends to their online careers.
For those of us who own sites that were being targeted by these mass link dumping efforts, it has been an endless battle. Nothing short of completely taking our sites offline could prevent the avalanche of spammy links coming in.
IP Banning was useless, the big players were running their software over private proxy networks with rotating IP’s.
Captchas were a joke, they were paying pennies for captcha-breaking services.
Whatever software updates or new obstacles available to us, they would be past them in hours.
It got to the point where on several community sites I run or my company is partnered with, we just resigned to go with a manual review for all new member registrations. That’s a lot of man hours invested just to ensure that anyone who wanted to participate in our communities was actually human and sincere. It also slowed down the registration process since reviews couldn’t be done in real-time, meaning many legitimate people who registered were put-off by having to wait for approval, and never returned.
[NOTE: between my personal ventures and my business partnerships, I/my company are connected with about 100 different web sites currently, more than half of which are community driven, and that number has been as high as over 200 in the past, so I'm talking about a lot of sites and time and labor here]
Fast forward to today:
Recently, Google finally brought the hammer down on these types of spammy link building tactics, and in doing so have inflicted great pain on businesses and site owners via search ranking penalties applied to their sites as a result of using such spammy techniques to manipulate the search results.
Yay for Google!
And now, on a daily basis, me or my support team are getting a flood of emails from businesses, site owners or their “new” SEO firm reps begging us to spend even more of our time and resources on their antics, via requests that we manually comb through our sites and remove all these spammy links that they paid some creep to drop on us in the past, because Google says their mess needs to be cleaned up before they’ll get their rankings back.
I’m having a serious struggle with this one. On one hand I really don’t like having the spammy links on my web properties, and these douchebags[def] are being considerate enough to provide the exact URL’s of the questionable links, making it fairly easy to address on our end.
However, if I add up the time and labor investment we’ve been forced to make over the past couple years already fighting against these creeps, I imagine it’s well into the tens-of-thousands of dollars. It almost seems like these clowns should offer to pay us for the link removal service now, after all they certainly paid to have them spammed onto our sites in the first place, despite all of our efforts to prevent it.
I’ve been hesitant in replying to these individual requests so far, and until I decide what is most appropriate for my sites and business I’ll likely remain so. But damn, the requests sure are flooding in fast with teary-eyed, penalized site owners hoping I’ll play janitor for them soon.