Did You Really Email A Googler For A Link Exchange?

Jan 12, 2012 • 8:38 am | comments (38) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Susan MoskwaThat is a picture of Susan Moskwa, a Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, who works with the search quality team at Google.

Someone sent her an email requesting a link exchange. In fact, it is fairly common for Googlers, including top well-known Googlers like Matt Cutts, to receive link exchange requests via email.

Susan posted on Google+ the email she received and the response she sent back. Her response was, you and your site violated Google's guidelines and will be reported as such.

Link exchange email request:

Hi, my name is Mary. I came across your website, THEDAME.NET, and would like to propose a link exchange between your sites and [redacted].com. Did you know, exchanging links will generate more traffic to both of our sites. Best of all it's FREE; there is no cost or hidden fee. We simply ask for a link back from a page on your site. Simple enough, don't you think?

Here is Susan's response:

Seriously, Mary? You sent a link exchange request to a member of the Google search team, for a domain that isn't even hosted?? You didn't even look at the site, did you. MAJOR LINKSPAM FAIL. I'm reporting your site to Google for violating our Webmaster Guidelines.

Serious response!

John Mueller from Google said that he gets between 3-4 a week of these a week.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Kim Clinkunbroomer

01/12/2012 01:47 pm

hahahahhaha!  this is precious!


01/12/2012 01:52 pm

Susan is awesome... I really enjoyed her presentation at the DFWSEM.org State of Search Meeting in November.

John Beagle

01/12/2012 02:01 pm

I get these emails all the time. Also three way link requests and give one get two. I don't know how there guys are able to beat my spam filter, heck we have a Baraccuda which costs thousands per year to keep up to date.  I wish there was a way to stop these guys. I think most come from overseas, allot from India.


01/12/2012 02:31 pm

Just block India from your mail server. You'll reduce these link spam emails by 95%. Seriously.


01/12/2012 02:38 pm

Just block numbnuts like above to reduce stupid comments by 96%. Seriously.

Jason Duke

01/12/2012 03:02 pm

This shows the real face of Google. Has anyone actually read what the email (as made public by Susan) actually says? Has anyone actually double checked against Google's own Webmaster Guidelines?It does NOT breech Google's guidelines. There is no mention of exchanging links for Pagerank or abuse of the Google search engine algorithm. Swapping links between sites is older than Google and this is surely a very clear cut case of showing how Google and Googlers think that they ARE the internet!

Michael J. Kovis

01/12/2012 04:03 pm

Yes...  "Because Google and Googlers think they ARE the internets...."  Great response there. BTW, ever read Google's Webmaster Guildelines?  Might want to look at the link I listed below to educate yourself.  I believe that email would quantify as a link spammer which would lead to them being excessive in building reciprocal links. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356

Susan Moskwa

01/12/2012 04:10 pm

Our Webmaster Guidelines say "Don't participate in link schemes," which links to this article for details https://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66356, where we specifically list "Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging ("Link to me and I'll link to you")" as an example of behavior that violates our guidelines. If you choose to participate in link exchanges that's fine with us -- after all, it's your site -- but we reserve the right to demote or remove your site from our search results if we believe you're violating our guidelines -- after all, they're our search results.


01/12/2012 04:40 pm

So that Mary might have given the domain of a competitor in her mail? ;)


01/12/2012 04:58 pm

You gotta be kidding ! You are spamming a post that features spamming a Google team member - you have just lost that site kiddo.. Unbelievable.


01/12/2012 06:55 pm

what a tattle tale, google can buy links, but everyone else can't


01/12/2012 11:30 pm

Surely the "excessive" part is important though? Did you report her purely for the email (which may have been her first, hence not excessive) or did you bother to look through the link profile of the site first (confirming the "excessive" use of recips?)

Susan Moskwa

01/13/2012 02:41 am

The "excessive" part is part of it, but in my experience people who ask for a link exchange with a site that doesn't even resolve are doing bulk link requests. I reported her site using Google's spam report form. The webspam team looks at sites that come in through that form and decides what, if any, action to take. They're the ones who will look at the link profile of the site. If she's hasn't ever exchanged links before in a way that violates our guidelines, then she doesn't have anything to worry about because they will see that when they review her site.


01/13/2012 04:05 am

Too bad reporting them doesn't do anything at all though.

Ashish Pratap Singh

01/13/2012 04:06 am

Of course Susan, they are your search results. I completely agree with Jason, Susan you(the big G) simply need to admit that they are your search results and you can do any thing(that favor your business) naming it as an update. The gaint example of this is Search + Google

Jayden Smith

01/13/2012 07:17 am

Google just loves to shit on the little guy, don't they. "MAJOR LINKSPAM FAIL" - yeah, nice attitude Susan. Always good to know that Google has respectable people like you working for them...


01/13/2012 09:10 am

So the site can't even be viewed since it doesn't resolve, yet it's violating webmaster guidelines!? WTF!? Total BS.


01/13/2012 09:46 am

Great Idea to kick out my competitors! ;)

Dirty Seagull

01/13/2012 11:48 am

My word that is funny, what an idiot 

Jake F

01/13/2012 12:28 pm

Not sure how the email violates Google Webmaster Guidelines, when the Googler herself has admitted that she did not go through the back link profile of the website in question in the comments below.  http://www.seroundtable.com/google-link-exchange-response-14575.html#comment-408703541 "...They're the ones who will look at the link profile of the site...." Yeah, but I admit that this is a pathetic effort from the so-called 'Mary' for sending such a douchey email.  Think the final laugh is on Susan Moskwa over here. 

Susan Moskwa

01/13/2012 04:17 pm

The domain that doesn't resolve is not the one that I reported. I reported the site that's trying to exchange links with a domain that doesn't resolve. Get your facts straight before you get so incensed.


01/13/2012 04:36 pm

What is going on with India? My 14 year old daughter has had two separate creepers from India messaging her and trying to get to know her.


01/13/2012 05:14 pm

Not sure they are a numbnuts really. They have probably just noticed that a large proportion of these emails originate from India. Not sure if insulting them for noticing this is really necessary either.


01/13/2012 05:23 pm

It reminds me of the time I was working at one of the big london digital agencies when a call was picked up by the COO sat near me. It was some one cold calling offering SEO services. After the caller had explained  how they could help the business with their 'expert' SEO services they then had an almighty strip torn off them by the COO who explained that if you were going to cold call businesses you should at least have the courtesy to research what the hell they did.


01/13/2012 06:40 pm

only 3 or 4 a month link exchange requests, that's soooo little


01/13/2012 07:04 pm

So Susan are you stating that this is a good way to make a competitor's site look bad. If so people would start emailing link exchange request to Google's team and send in their competitor's link so that you feel they are doing an illegitimate thing.

Keshab Raj Adhikari

01/14/2012 03:50 pm

Barry, I think this guys is getting more traffic now... :(

Susan Moskwa

01/14/2012 10:12 pm

"Not sure how the email violates Google Webmaster Guidelines" Y'know, I'm a little surprised that I have to spell this out, but here goes:Google discourages links that are intended to manipulate search engine rankings. It's natural for sites to link to other sites -- that's part of the utility of the web -- but when people make a reciprocal link part of the deal -- "I'll link to you if you link to me" -- that usually indicates that they're trying to increase their incoming links in order to increase their search ranking. Otherwise they would just link to the site in question and not expect anything in return. Now, even this type of request isn't always bad -- for example, if someone wrote to me and said "I just came across your roller derby website and I'm a sports gear vendor and we sell neoprene sleeves really similar to what you talked about on [URL], except we think ours are better for the following reasons, would you consider linking to them?", I wouldn't report such an email for violating our Guidelines because the person obviously checked out my site and explained why they think my visitors would be interested in their content. They gave me a relevant reason to consider linking to them. "Link to me and I'll link to you" doesn't give me any compelling reason to link other than to boost both sites' ranking (manipulating search engine rankings). I looked at the site that was asking me to exchange links and it had nothing to do with my site. And since my domain doesn't even _resolve_ I can't possibly imagine that someone actually went to the domain, saw that it doesn't resolve, and thought, "What a great site! Let's email them." This pretty clearly points to someone who's just grabbing a list of domains from somewhere and bulk emailing them to ask for link exchanges, regardless of their content, which is the type of thing we consider "excessive link exchanging" as mentioned below.

Susan Moskwa

01/14/2012 10:21 pm

When someone reports a website via our spam report, that report gets reviewed by our webspam team. They review the site in question and decide what, if any, action to take. If you report a competitor's website but the competitor isn't doing anything that violates our guidelines, nothing bad will happen to their site because we don't take action against a site unless we find evidence that it's violating our guidelines. Receiving an email like this is usually a good indication that the site in question is trying to exchange links in a way that violates our guidelines, but we don't actually take any action on the site unless we find evidence of existing links that violate our guidelines. That's why I sent this site to our spam team to review it, rather than immediately taking action against the site purely based on this email.


01/15/2012 01:08 am

You have not been a webmaster long have you susan? It used to be the ONLY way to get traffic was 'link exchanges' between 2 sites. Google broke that, as they broke linking in general when they came along.


01/15/2012 01:14 am

Hmm my first post was supposed to be only in reply to:  "I'll link to you if you link to me" -- that usually indicates that they're trying to increase their incoming links in order to increase their search ranking.


01/15/2012 04:35 am

How is it a google guideline breaker, did she not talk about TRAFFIC. 


01/15/2012 12:54 pm

How do you know they weren't going to provide you with a pre-generated link code including a rel="nofollow" tag.  Highly unlikely, but maybe you should have squeezed that orange a little bit more before reporting him.

Susan Moskwa

01/15/2012 06:48 pm

And exactly how much traffic do you think she was expecting to get from a domain that doesn't resolve?

F Google

01/16/2012 12:24 am

Susan, do you have some business in Kenya or Asia to rip off and destroy? Or some Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, to steal? Or to ruin more small businesses that don't advertise with Panda? Get the f out of here, you frauds and thieves.


01/16/2012 02:13 am

I own redacted-com and we did not send any link exchange requests.

Daniel Kidd

01/16/2012 09:52 am

Busted! It's a shame we didn't get to see the response from the sender though.


01/16/2012 02:41 pm

So look at this and tell me your thoughts... Since they do this it should be "okay" I guess.. http://www.seomoz.org/blog/linkbuilder-gmail-productivity-setup-and-outreach-examples

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