I have long suspected that such things go on, but it is only very recently that I have actually found proof. An SEO agency spamming social bookmarking and spamming it incredibly badly.
SEO, or search engine optimisation, agencies are tasked by clients to improve their search engine visibility. A large part of improving search engine visibility involves getting links to whichever page it is that should be more visible. There are literally millions of articles online dedicated to this. I won’t do them the disservice of rewriting them here, but if you don’t know about it (and are interested) there’s plenty out there for you to read.
Social bookmarking is a collective term for services such as stumbleupon, digg, mixx and a thousand other services. All of them allow users to both bookmark webpages which interest them and share them with their friends, the majority of these services have some sort of algorithmic sorting mechanism to sort the shit from the shit hot. Another thing they all have in common is that they are “social”, users can “follow” other users, comment on other users links. You know, social.
I literally stumbled upon this particular instance of social bookmarking spamming by one particular SEO agency. I have blanked out everything which identifies either the username or the clients of this agency:
I have a damn fine way of finding more SEO agencies doing the same, and I am convinced there are loads to find. For the time being I’ll keep that to myself, though people with a decent idea of how the web works will be able to fathom it out for themselves too. This particular SEO agency has been particularly obvious in that they’ve used the same username across a huge number of social bookmarking sites, here’s a screenshot of a Google search for their username (with the identifiable bits removed):
Why would an SEO agency spam social bookmarking?
- “Every link counts” might be one explanation, though I really need to ask “really? REALLY?”
- Has this agency not considered the potential implications of their actions?
- Why does this agency bookmark pages which nobody else deems worthy of bookmarking?
- Why doesn’t this agency create astonishingly great content for their client and bookmark that?
By abusing social bookmarking in this fashion they are, in effect, linking each of their clients with a spammy footprint. Search engines reference social links as an indicator of quality! Anyone, but especially SEO agencies, considering spamming social bookmarking with spurious and mediocre bookmarks should consider these questions:
- Will they also use spammy signals to punish rankings?
- Is that a gamble that you should really be taking with your clients and their reputations?
- Is that a gamble that your clients should be funding?