Before I start this post, it is a bit of a rant and it only applies to *some* SEO executives. There are some very good ones out there and I don't want to tar everyone with the same brush. This article is going to focus on the bad ones and why as a blogger, I am sick of dealing with their tricks.
One way a website can appear higher up on a Google search is through having lots of other quality websites (especially in their niche) linking to them. There are organic ways to gain links (eg writing quality content which lots of people want to link to and share) but there are also illegitimate ways SEO executives will try and gain links back to their clients from our website and today I'm going to chat about some of these.
1 - Setting up a fake blogger profile
Often you'll get SEO executives disguising themselves as a blogger. They'll get in touch, sell you a sob story that they're a new blogger and trying to grow their portfolio and ask if they can write a post for your site. Most bloggers like to help other bloggers so this is an easy trick to fall for BUT as soon as you ask if they'll be linking to anyone in their post, they go quiet on you and it's obvious they aren't really a blogger at all and are just trying to write an article that will link to their clients. So annoying! Just be straight with us and stop wasting our time.
2 - Creating fake blog awards
Not all blog awards or ranking systems are fake but a good majority are. It seems like every week, bloggers will receive an email congratulating us that we've made their top 100 bloggers list. More often than not, there will be t&cs applied to this and the small print will say we can only appear on their top blogger list if we host their badge (which links back to their website) on our website. Thanks but no thanks. I'm always happy to be included in lists like this but not if it comes with pre-conditions and is clearly just a link building exercise and doesn't value the blogger at all.
3 - Spamming blogs with comments
This is becoming a real problem for me. Often, SEO executives will try and comment on as many blogs as possible with links back to their own clients. I love, love, love receiving blog comments when they are genuine but you can spot a fake comment a mile off. These comments are usually either a copy and paste job or have been generated through an automated system, Fake and automatic blog comments with links to your clients add NOTHING to our blog posts and will never be approved. Please stop!
4 - Not mentioning they want a do-follow link
Google states that links in a blog post should be set to no-follow if any payment (in cash or kind) has been received. Most PR firms abide by this and are pretty strict that you do this - nobody wants to be in Google's bad books. SEO executives aren't on the same page though. They actively try and gain as many do-follow links as possible for their clients and you can often think you're working on a PR campaign, will include a no-follow link in your post and it's only afterwards that they will get back in touch and say that you need to change the link to do-follow or they won't pay you. This is blackmail and really not fair on the blogger. It's not against the law to offer do-follow links in return for payment and many bloggers offer this service BUT you should let the blogger know in your initial email that this is what you'd like rather than wasting both of your time.
5 - Asking us to post about something which is not in our niche
I care about my blog and my readers (as do 99% of bloggers) and strive to only create content which is either useful or entertaining. Many SEOs don't seem to get this and will often pitch us with ideas which have nothing to do with our audience. For example, I was asked to write about a removal firm in Canada last week. How is this relevant????
6 - Providing free quality content our readers will love
Oh jeez, if I had £1 for the number of times I received an email about this I'd be a millionaire. It's the worst! Bloggers are sent pitches daily from SEOs who have written an article our readers will love and will bring more visitors to our website. Apparently, we should be grateful that this is being provided completely free of charge. Let me just stop you there though. Readers come to my website to read articles written by ME and to hear my opinion. They aren't interested in reading a generic article with stock photos written by a random person and linking to multiple random client websites. Bloggers are never grateful for this kind of content so please stop asking us to post it. It's not going to happen and is insulting.
7 - Not valuing bloggers
I think offering pennies for a blog post is often worse than offering something for free. I usually charge £300-£500 per blog post. I can often send my fees and will receive an email back offering 3USD. This is just a joke really and shows that the brand in question really does not value bloggers at all.
Another well-known SEO agency pays bloggers £25-£40 to host pre-written content on their website featuring 3-4 links to various clients. This might seem ok to newer bloggers (although I don't think it is) but when you look at how much money this business is making from doing this, it's ridiculous! An average blogger will have a DA of 30+ This brand is asking a blogger of this calibre to host content featuring links to 4 client's for £30 yet are charging the brands who use this SEO service £280-£320! This business already has hundreds of bloggers on their books so their outreach service will take just a couple of emails to their regulars. It's hardly a fair distribution of payment and really gets on my wick! I get that bloggers who accept this kind of deal are also part of the problem and may know exactly what they're getting into / need the £££ but I'd love to see bloggers being paid their worth and not being taken advantage of like this.
I want to reiterate that it's not ALL SEO executives who try these dodgy tactics, just some and to be honest I'm often shocked when I discover who some of the brands are who have employed these tactics - I imagine some are aware this is going on but many would be disappointed if they found out that SEOs were using underhand tactics and abusing bloggers like this.
Are you a blogger? Are you sick of these underhand tactics? Let me know your thoughts.
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