|How NOT to talk to people who link to you|
About a month ago, I got a usual (and fairly generic) request from an SEO company (from a Gmail or Yahoo account) to remove a link pointing to example.com, with a request to notify person (at) example.com when removed.
I sent a message to person (at) example.com saying the link was already nofollowed and that requests for link removals must come from an e-mail associated with the domain. The mail bounced.
Last week I got a form letter from a lawyer representing example.com using somewhat threatening language demanding that we remove the link and that we contact someoneelse (at) example.com when the link was removed.
I sent a message to someoneelse (at) example.com saying we got their lawyer's threatening letter and pointing out, again, that the link was nofollowed.
This time I got a response with a lengthy explanation about what their new SEO company told them then need to do. I have never read so much misinformation about SEO in my life- a quick search on Google would dispel 90% of the crap they were told to do.
I told them as much, included a link to a Matt Cutts video thoroughly disputing the main points their SEO company raised, and let them know that they need not worry about the link because I removed it and that I will personally make sure that none of our web properties EVER link to their site in the future, even if they beg us to.
Today I received a bulk sent e-mail from someone (at) example.com saying that we probably received their attorney's letter, blah blah blah about them needing to follow Google's guidelines and that's why they have been contacting all the sites that link to them. Oh, and sorry, but the tools they were using were wrong and that our site may not actually be as bad as they made it out to be. So if we haven't removed the link to example.com, we don't have to. And if we did, would we consider putting it back? And just to let us know, they've written a nasty letter to Google complaining about the whole process.
Unfortunately, paraphrasing the letters really strips all the attitude out, which was pretty much that they are a victim because they hired a screwy SEO company that ended up getting their site penalized by Google and that we (site owners) are bad people because we linked to them and their lawyers are going to punish us and they're still a victim because they hired a new SEO company that ended up being worse than the first and nothing is their (example.com's) fault because Google is just a big bad ogre, boo hoo!
Incredible, unfortunately I can picture it as not a unique chain of events.
Link building doesn't scale properly. Which is why agencies turn to infographics, viral marketing schemes and schemes that try to trick publishers into linking to a page. The result is irrelevant links that don't help traffic or earnings. Their focus is on quantity of links, not helping the client increase earnings.
This is a good example of how scaling goes bad in acquiring links and taking them down. If agencies focused more on the bottom line instead of deliverables then this kind of thing would happen less.
In a way I do feel sorry for them. SEO companies have incredible power. In most normal businesses who has the time to research this stuff. I barely have time to keep up to date and I run a dang online biz.
Another thing I didn't include in my OP is that the lawyer also said we had to remove any mention of the company from our site. The link was part of their business listing, which we have since de-activated and most likely will never re-activate.
Oh, and the funny (sad) part of all this is that the link that we had to their site wasn't even part of any efforts by their previous SEO company.
So while they may get reinstated with Google, I suspect that a lot of other sites won't reinstate them in the future.