The Era of SEOs and Link-Removing: The Sad Reality of Dancing with the Digital Devil

by Marcus Sheridan

link removing

Let me just cut to the chase here folks: For years, a large portion of SEO companies have been ripping off their clients. I wrote about good vs. bad SEO companies not too long ago, but some recent developments have got me so fired up I simply can’t hold my tongue.

I’m going to share with you an email that was recently forwarded to me from a client I’m currently engaging that was originally sent from this client’s existing SEO firm. Whatever you do, don’t skim over these few sentences. Rather, read it slowly and take it in. Here goes…

“…There is a lot going on with Google these days. I wanted to share some info with you…Remember when we used to write articles and send them out to get you a bunch of links to your site? Well those days have been over for a while now, as I am sure you are aware of. We at [company name] have not been doing this because Google has now deemed it as “not good”. Our company strives to stay up with all the Google Webmaster guidelines, and this is why we have not been doing link building lately.

The bad thing about this is now we have to go through all your webmaster accounts, and find the “bad links” that used to be “good links”. We have been manually deleting as many bad links as we can. This will actually improve your ranking, just having these bad links removed.

Most of our time has been spent doing this for the past 40-60 days or so… I have a list being built now, with all of your accounts, and which links are being removed. I will let you all know when we have completed the cleanup of the bad links.

When this is all done, we can move on and continue to SEO your sites according to the new rules; which a lot of it now, is driven by social interactions…”

Anything about this make you want to vomit?

Yeah, me too—every single word of it.

Basically, this SEO company is now charging the client to remove the crap links it built for them in the first place.


And not only that, but they’re acting like this is some arduous task that requires meticulous investigation, skill, and hard work.

Give me a break.


Paying the Price of Previous Sins

Sadly, this SEO company isn’t the only one charging unknowing and uninformed clients to fix dirty work that they themselves created.

They danced with the link-building devil and now their clients are paying the price. Very sad indeed.

Over the past few years I’ve helped many companies with their search content marketing efforts. And with none of these organizations have I ever once worried that we needed to backtrack and remove previous content, links, etc. If we got a link, it was real. It was earned. It was legit.

And it certainly wasn’t blackhat.

My personal philosophy is that any company (or SEO firm) that did blatant and obvious black hat link-building practices over the past decade deserves to get Google slapped.  Even before search engines developed their algorithm to better (ideally) focus on “quality” over “quantity,” it was obvious to me that one day Google and the rest of them would know if I had tried to game the system, and it would come back and bite me.

Frankly, it’s common sense.

A New Era of “Link-Removing” Services

Going forward, we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this. A new era of “link-removing” will be a service offered by SEO companies. Yeah, it’s unbelievable but it’s true.

I can tell you this though: If you’ve been with an SEO company for a while and they give you a load of bull in the form of an email that wants to charge you to pay the price of their sins, fire them. Send them down the road.

And start working with a company that’s not looking to “game” the system, but rather embrace it through quality content, great communication, and consistent consumer-value going forward.

This, my friends, is what great content marketing is all about, and it’s also why it’s the future of successful SEO.

Your Turn

I’m curious to know your thoughts upon reading the email above. Also, when it comes to link-building as a major part of search engine algorithms, where do you see it all going?

Jump in folks, your opinions matter.

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