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Today we present our brand-new Spam and Scam Alert category by publishing an informative advice against one of the most common forms of spam that website owners receive daily: the "fraudulent guest post request" that everyone receives through their e-mail address(es) as soon as he launches an informative website.
We all know what a guest post is (if you don't, then read here): in a nutshell, we're basically talking about a modern digital marketing technique (a bad thing) mutuated from a legitimate behaviour that was used on the web since the '90 that consisted in professional experts asking to write decent articles on websites and blogs to gain reputation (which was a good thing). However, let's see how it works in more precise details.
What it is
Originally (from the '90s to the rise of the social marketing) guest postings were used mainly in the form of expert articles: experts published guest articles related to their field of expertise on other websites, primarily to strengthen their own reputation and draw attention to themselves. Over time, guest postings were also increasingly used for the purpose of drawing attention to websites. Guest articles turned into an important tool of search engine optimization.
Needless to say, the modern digital marketing approach took the bad stuff from the original guest posting concept - a foreign post published on other websites to increase the blogger/expert popularity - while filtering out the good stuff - the actual decency of the article itself. That's basically what "modern" guest posts are all about: crappy and uninspired content stuffed with external links - almost always written in the form of link schemes - to fraudulently boost the SEO rating of their clients' websites. This technique is often the foundation of gigantic marketing campaigns where these "SEO hunters" are actually paid to find editors naive enough to have these crappy contents (fraudulently depicted as "guest posts") published on their websites.
We called such techniques Fake Guest Posting to emphasize the difference between the "genuine", legitimate guest posting approach of most "old school" bloggers/experts used to had in the past: it's worth noting that there still are some around, but they are an extreme minority nowadays - especially if we compare them to the massive swarms of fake scammers knocking on our e-mail gates!
How does it work
They will try to persuade you into publishing that thrash by offering you small amounts of money, usually 5$ to 150$ per post, depending on how much traffic your website generates: it goes without saying that them and their customers will cash out much more, because the indirect earnings of these link schemes (in terms of received traffic, clicks & SEO advantages) will be much more valuable than the one-time fee they'll pay you in the unlucky chance you accept their request.
Why you should avoid that
Link schemas is a bad thing, and hosting some on your website is definitely something you'll want to avoid. Google released a clear statement about this, explaining why websites should avoid them and how such technique will eventually have a negative impact in a site's ranking in SERP.
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site's ranking in search results:
- Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
- Excessive link exchanges ("Link to me and I'll link to you") or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
- Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
- Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
- Requiring a link as part of a Terms of Service, contract, or similar arrangement without allowing a third-party content owner the choice of using nofollow or other method of blocking PageRank, should they wish.
Pay attention to the text in bold: that's the exact scenario of the "guest posts requests" you will get. No matter how good they will make it sound like, at the end of the day they are still just offering you few bucks to publish their link schemas. And they need you because they need a website that is willing to lower its ranking to boost theirs.
Regarding such fraudulent technique, Google also said the following:
Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines. Here are a few common examples of unnatural links that may violate our guidelines:
- Text advertisements that pass PageRank
- Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank
- Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites. For example:There are many wedding rings on the market. If you want to have a wedding, you will have to pick the best ring. You will also need to buy flowers and a wedding dress.
- Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
- Keyword-rich, hidden or low-quality links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example: "Visitors to this page: 1,472" or "car insurance".
- Widely distributed links in the footers or templates of various sites
- Forum comments with optimized links in the post or signature, for example: "Thanks, that’s great info! - Paul paul’s pizza san diego pizza best pizza san diego"
Again, look at the sentences in bold: that's precisely what you will want to avoid if you don't want to risk a serious SEO derank from Google. No matter how much they would pay you, if you care about your website traffic and reputation you should never accept these bottom-end strategies that exclusively rely upon pushing garbage content on your post feed.
Some "Guest Posting" campaigns to blame
As of today (April 2019) we do receive no less than 50 e-mail per week of people asking for "guest posting", 99% of them being of the aforementioned type. Here's a list of some of the most ertentaining ones. As you will see, conversely from most spam-like e-mail attempts, the sender is almost always a real person that will answer you if you reply to their cut-pasted first contact. That’s funny in its own way, since that allowed us to play around with them sometimes and see how they would react:
That's it, at least for now: we do sincerely hope to have shed some light upon this fraudulent marketing technique and warned the unaware webmasters again such unfair strategy which will seriously risk to cripple the SEO ratings of their beloved websites and jeopardize their solid work.