from the it's-kind-of-fun dept
Hi,There are a number of variations on this. My favorite is the following, which ridiculously implies that that we were working with them and they "appreciate the support."
We noticed that your site http://www.techdirt.com is linking to our site [redacted] on the url [Techdirt article URL]
Unfortunately [our company] has been hit by an Unnatural Link Penalty and we are now trying to get all links taken down where possible, rather than disavowing them.
If you could spare 5 minutes to take this link down we would be extremely grateful. Do not hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Hello Webmaster,One time, we got one that insisted that if we didn't remove the link, Google would punish us as well. Every time we get these (and it's been happening with increasing frequency), there's a bit of an internal dilemma. We don't delete comments unless they're spam. That's our general comment policy around here. But, these are clearly spam, and it's annoying they got through our spam filter. If we had discovered them on our own, we would have deleted them. But, just the fact that these jackass comment spammers are getting in trouble for them... makes us pause and think a bit. It feels somehow wrong to abide by the wishes of these comment spammers who littered our site.
My name is Matthew Victor and I’m a SEO specialist with [redacted], first off I want to thank you for linking to our site from http://www.techdirt.com/, we appreciate the support over the years.
Unfortunately, it has come to our attention that this link may be viewed by Google as a violation of the Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
It is important for us to bring our website into compliance, so we are requesting that you remove our link from this page and any other page on your website.
To assist you in the process of removing these links from your site I’m including a list of the pages we have been able to identify as linking to us.
We would greatly appreciate your prompt response to this request and removal of these links along with any others on your site.
It appears that we're not the only ones dealing with this. Apparently, Google's algorithmic changes over the past year or so have hit those who abused comment spamming quite hard, and plenty of blogs are getting these kinds of emails. The folks over at The Awl have a nice article about it, in which they quote Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza going through the same debate we did, and ending up with the same conclusion:
This isn't only happening in The Awl's inboxes, either. "The funny thing is, we don't actually want that spam lurking around in old comments," Boing Boing's Rob Beschizza wrote to me in an email. "But we obviously like seeing the spammers suffering as a result of their own misbehavior."The Awl did some digging and found out that the changes to Google's algorithm have really hit those comment spammers hard, which is something worth cheering.
"So we just leave it up," he wrote, "even though we don't want it, in the hope that Google may penalize them further."
"The average drop was from page one to page five in Google," [the "SEO" guy trying to remove comments that The Awl contacted] said. In some cases they even dropped as low as page ten. How often do you find yourself on the fifth—much less the tenth—page of Google results? If you've gotten that far, you're better off just refining or revising your search terms.The Awl notes that it, too, has received emails from those trying to remove comment spams saying that Google will punish them as well. However, the first time we got one of those, we reached out to people at Google who told us that we were fine. First of all, all of the links in our comments automatically have rel=nofollow appended to them, which means that Google already does not use them as authoritative (though, I do wonder if they use them to help demote certain links...), and knows that we've "disavowed" the links. Also, our general page rank and reputation likely protects us from having the algorithm think we've suddenly turned into link spammers.
"We needed to delete all of the bad links," he said. "It was a big list—a few thousand, even ten thousand links. We just moved one by one: this is a toxic link, we need to delete it; this is a good, natural link."
"We had links from the Daily Mail, Huffington Post, and we had links from profiles in shitty forums or small websites that we didn't want to get the link from," he said. Apparently by that he meant... us. So the goal clearly isn't to remove all spam links. Just the least-good ones.
As we mentioned just recently, whenever I've brought this up on Twitter, some people have suggested we should offer to charge for the removal of those spam comments -- and at times that's tempting. But, in the end, the companies that spewed that spam deserve whatever crap they get. If they didn't realize it was evil to post comment spam, then they're not the kinds of organizations worth doing business with in the first place.
Now, if only the message that comment spamming is dead could make its way to the folks who are still hitting us with 1,000 or so comment spams per day...