The utter irony of links

Once links were seen as good things. Now some people think they're toxic. They're nuts.

I got an interesting email last week. It was from a guy who worked in SEO for a digital marketing agency. He was asking me to remove a link to a well-known travel company that I had put in one of my posts several years ago.

I don't accept money for anything on this blog. The link was in a perfectly decent blog post about family holidays along with links to several other travel companies.

It's hugely ironic.

Since Google started to really clamp down on guest posts and other attempts to generate links which SEO agencies have been using to try and game the rankings, people have become utterly terrified about links.

Why? Because Google is penalising some sites that have obviously large numbers of links linking to them from odd or inappropriate places. It's also penalising sites (primarily blogs) that seem to link out to lots and lots of other sites in ways that suggest they might have been paid to do so.

I explained to the emailer that this link he didn't like was totally in context. No whiff of anything dodgy about it. He replied that he agreed but this blog is 'themed around SEO' so better to be safe than sorry.

I explained that it isn't. I touch on SEO sometimes, but it's about digital marketing. His response was fascinating:

You’re totally right… it’s crazy. My job title includes the word SEO – yet when I see the words ‘SEO’ in a site, I assume something bad is going on. Unfortunately there’s been so much in the negative side of things with that word that even people who know it’s not necessarily negative (like me) still automatically assume it is. We killed a lot trust in our industry I think.

I've done quite a lot of work with mum bloggers recently too. Several of them now 'no follow' all their outbound links because they are worried that they might get penalised.

(A 'no follow' link is basically a way to link to something with out passing on any SEO value.)

The thing is Google's algorithm is still very much based on links - despite what they might say. If everyone stopped linking or using no follow links the whole thing would be pretty much useless.

I find it utterly hilarious that something I used to do to show I really rated a company, an article or a person (ie linking to them) is now seen as negative.

It shouldn't be. It's utterly contrary to the way the internet should work.

Have you had any weird link removal requests from SEO people?

Image: Ravages on Flickr

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