Holy Sh*t! Please Don’t Link To Me!

So I’m strolling through my Twitter feed today catching up with what’s going on. Suddenly this tweet comes thru that made me laugh…then kinda want to cry because it is SO sadly real in regards to Google and back links right now.

Let me show you the tweet –

This tweet came across from Ryan Jones (his site is here):

(note: for those that don’t know, Xrumer is a software program that automatically blasts 10’s of thousands of links. Profile and comment links I think – please correct me if I am wrong.)

Now, naturally Ryan meant this as a joke, but the sad reality of it really brings to light the current state of the internet.

At first, I laughed… pretty hard, actually.

Then I thought, “OMG! I wonder how often this is actually happening right now?!?!?”

2012 is turning into the International UNlinking Year. People are scrambling to remove links that once worked so well for them (I talked about when I consider removing links in my Survival Guide). Or, at worst, those links did NOTHING for them.

But seriously, people are asking, threatening, and DEMANDING that those they once asked to link to them (or arranged..or did automatically…or paid..or happened naturally) to now REMOVE those links.

Totally crazy stuff. Mind-boggling, in fact.

I then imagined a webmaster who was frantically working to get all his/her “bad” links removed getting an email that said what Ryan’s tweet said.

I have no doubt their first thought would be, “Holy Sh*t!! Please don’t link to me!!!!

This is how things have become in the wonderful land of Google. If Google wasn’t so powerful and virtually the main doorway to the internet, I don’t think we’d all care so much…but Google IS mighty powerful and Google IS the main doorway to the internet (in a BIG way).

It’s sad. It’s actually kinda scary. Makes me really worry about folks like us out there trying their best to make all this work.

We’ve talked about Negative SEO before. I’ve mentioned that for the longest time I held on to my faith that bad links don’t HURT you – That Google ignores bad links.

Every day in these past few months I am proven more and more wrong.

This is what Matt Cutts had to say about Negative SEO at a recent SMX Conference (June 5th):

(note: this ‘quote’ is from a live blogging transcript of the Q&A session with Matt Cutts by Barry Schwartz)

Negative SEO has been around a long time?

Hmmm… apparently so.

I coulda sworn the Google help page about competitors harming your rankings used to say that there’s “almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking….” (Here’s a blog post that shows that old wording from that Google help page).

Now it says…

(yellow highlight mine)

So it went from our competitors being able to do “almost nothing” to “Google works hard to prevent”?

Naturally, the SEO community is torn and is at constant debate over whether a competitor can REALLY hurt your rankings or not (here’s a short discussion at InBound.org that gives just a little taste of the debate at hand).

Again, going back to the Q&A session with Matt Cutts at SMX the other day, another “live blogger” has more of the talk between Danny Sullivan and Matt Cutts regarding negative SEO (yellow highlight mine):

(note:big thanks to ManagingGreatness.com. You can read the full transcript here.)

So now, in my opinion, we have some real answers.

Google used to claim that it was almost impossible to hurt anothers ranking. OK, got that.

But apparently, they are seeing more examples of this very thing happening (ie, someone else doing things to hurt your rankings).

They try very hard to stop that.

OK, good – glad they’re working on stopping it.

But that last part I highlighted kinda throws me for a loop (underlined part is mine)…

A lot of people waste their money on buying links, and it hurts the whole industry. Now we’ve gone further and try to get those links to actually hurt you.

So, they’re working hard on the whole “Negative SEO” concept, BUT they are also working hard to make those bad links hurt you now?

Google used to ignore those links (hence the former wording of “almost nothing a competitor can do”) but now Google is trying to make bad links hurt you (hence the change in wording to “Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking…”).

So much for holding on to my faith, right? Yep, that faith just went down the drain.

Sounds like it’s a freakin’ free-for-all in the Google Ranking World now.

A MAJOR can of worms has been opened. Or perhaps a major can of fish to feed the Penguin? Sounds like we really DO need something in Webmaster Tools to tell Google which links NOT to count (supposedly being worked on by Google according to this article, but that’s MONTHS into the future at best…what about NOW?)

I don’t understand how you can be working hard to stop something you SEE actually happening and ALSO be working hard to make sure that very same thing HURTS rankings.

I know, I’m not a genius. Heck, there are Google experts out there that have forgotten more than I’ll ever know.

But for those of us in the same boat as me, I’d like to ask for ALL of us…

w. t. H.????

How in the WORLD do you STOP someone from linking to you? That is totally against the way the internet has grown and how GOOGLE has grown. Whether that link is being done genuinely and editorially or done maliciously – how does one STOP it?

We can only truly control what we each do ON our own sites. We can’t control what is being done TO our sites from other places around the web. I feel for all the ‘Joe the Plumber’ and ‘Beth the Baker’ local sites out there…man what a mess for them. All it takes is ONE competitor to take them all down?

Looks like there’s a need for some new type of tool/service that sends an email every day telling you who linked to you in the last 24 hours. If you don’t want the link, you say ‘No thank you’ and the link is magically removed (or no-followed).

Anyone got that service? If so, you’d make a frickin’ boat load of money right now (and yes, when you DO make that money, I’ll gladly take my 10% cut for the idea).

But for now, I guess we should ALL start saying, “Holy Sh*t!!! Please don’t link to me!!” ?????

Seems sad, doesn’t it?

Especially when I got the next tweet from Ryan:

That’s what we’re headed towards, isn’t it? (yes, please, someone tell me how wrong I am)

Oh, and to those I’ve linked TO in this post, sure, I’ll unlink you if you want me to 😉 Guess I need something new in my terms/privacy policy page letting people know how sorry I am for linking to them and citing them as a source inside my content…and how to ask me to remove said link. {insert BIG sigh from me}

And if you want to link to ME – knock yourself out. I’m still happy and thankful for any mention of my work – regardless of what Google thinks.

Your thoughts?

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