Have you ever had an email from someone wanting to guest post on your blog, when you have no idea who they are?
Have you ever thought it seemed a bit...odd?
Ever since I started blogging, I've been inundated with emails that look a bit like this. (The emails are all worded slightly differently but they're more or less the same.)
"Request for Guest Article.
Hope you're keeping well!
I'm an avid reader and blogger, a passion which I think we share.
Your blog "themilelongbookshelf.com" is by far the most interesting I have come across in the recent past, hands down!
The writer in me is yearning to write a piece for your blog.
The best part is I won't be charging you a penny, but in return all I need is just one link within the article.
Awaiting your reply."Or maybe it looks like this.
"Surfing the net and your website "http://www.themilelongbookshelf.com" caught my attention. Really liked the site’s content and the best part I found is similar to the site I'm working for.
I would love to contribute a guest post, which is unique and written by an author with a great track record.
The content, I assure, is free of plagiarism, fulfil all the terms and conditions, and will certainly educate the readers.
In turn, we would request you to provide us a link for our website from the article.
Eagerly waiting for your approval."Chances are that if you're a blogger in any niche you will have had a similar email at some point. Like me, you probably pondered over it for a little while. It was an odd email - the writer hadn't even included their blog link. You want to know why it seemed like an odd email? Because it's spam. Simple as that.
SEO = Search Engine Optimisation. The better your SEO is, the higher up you'll rank in Google's search results. This is important for everyone with a website but especially if you're a company, as good SEO = more exposure = more customers and more money.
If a company is struggling with this, they'll usually get someone to increase their SEO. This can be done by placing a link to the company on a website with good SEO... such as mine. And yours. Unfortunately, these people are lazy, and usually they resort to improving their company's SEO by doing two things:
a) Spam comments.
Ever gotten a comment half-relevant to the post the comment is on, but with a weird link at the end? If you publish it, your blog is then linking to them. That's why it's a good idea to moderate your comments because you can easily get rid of spam comments, and your own SEO remains unharmed.
b) Guest posts.
Guest posts require more effort but it's the same technique as before. They're ultimately including a link to the website requiring improved SEO amongst the text of the post, meaning you (with good SEO) are linking to them (with bad SEO.) It's hard to explain, but imagine a car being jump-started by another car, and that's what it's like.
But how do you know if it really is spam?
Most of the time I ignore these emails, but occasionally I'll reply and ask for the writer's blog link just out of curiosity. Last time I did this the email I got back was just a link... going to some website about getting a fake visa. Right. Nice blog you've got there. Yep. *deletes email*
If you can't be bothered to reply, there are several signs that the email is spam.
The writer of the email doesn't include their own web address.
This is because they don't have a blog, even if they claim to have one. Of course they don't have a blog - they've just been employed by a company to reach out to other website owners, and most of the time they attempt to earn the trust of whoever they're emailing by claiming to have similar interests. Note the fact that the email I received mentions reading and the 'fact' that the sender is a blogger too.
They mention that they need to include a link in the guest post.
Imagine if a genuine book blogger (or any kind of blogger, for that matter) emailed you asking if they could guest post on your blog. They wouldn't ask to include a link to themselves in the post. They would either just do it, or you would include it somewhere in the post yourself. That's just how it is. So the fact that a 'blogger' is mentioning that they 'need' to put a link in there (and who knows where the link actually leads to, as they never say) screams the fact that they're just trying to improve their own SEO at your site's expense.
They refer to your blog using the whole URL, and it's in quote marks.
This is a pretty big giveaway. If every time they refer to your blog they use your web address instead of your blog name, and it's in quote marks, you can safely assume that they're using Mail Merge, i.e. sending the same email to hundreds or even thousands of other bloggers with the click of a button - the URL changing automatically and accordingly each time.
Their replies - if you start a conversation - are vague and often include spelling mistakes.Using the same example as I have been in the rest of this post, after asking for the writer's blog link (which went to a spam website) I said I couldn't have her on the blog. Her reply was:
"Do you have any blogs to post in future remember me as i am good writer"I didn't reply because I'm not entirely sure what that says.
But sometimes the company doesn't know their SEO is being 'improved' this way.The two options I've mentioned in this post are the wrong ways to improve SEO, and are usually employed by lazy people looking to do their job in the easiest way possible, never mind whether it's morally right or wrong. This can go unnoticed by whoever is in charge of the website, and if you've got one of the dodgy links on your site, you might get an email like this...
"Dear Website Owner:
We have discovered that a company we hired to help promote our website has used a variety of questionable techniques to secure links to our website. These links were placed purely for SEO purposes, with the intention of manipulating search rankings.
It appears that there may be links like this that have been placed on your site.
The presence of these links is harmful to our site's good standing with search engines, and unfortunately, retaining them may also be potentially harmful to your own website's reputation.
We respectfully request that you please remove any links on your site that link to us.
So far as we are aware, there is (or has been) a link at this URL:
We would greatly appreciate your help with resolving this problem.
If you need any more information from us, please email me and I will be happy to assist.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you and do appreciate your help."The link had been in a spam comment which must have slipped through the net last year. I deleted the comment including the questionable link and replied to the email to let the company know.
Hopefully this post was helpful to some of you, and if you have any questions feel free to ask me!
Have you ever had an email like this?