Shyster SEO

October 1, 2010 | By Paul Mackenzie Ross | Filed in: business, Internet, SEO.


I recently received an unsolicited email from someone at a website that I’ve noticed has been quite proactive in promoting itself recently. The business seems to have had a fairly good amount of media attention in the last couple of years, so their brand-building exercises are quite effective. They have good links from, and good articles posted on, some reputable websites. I’ve even seen their press releases through some well-known PR agencies.

So to receive an email directly from this business kindly asking for a link was great. In fact, better than that, they had already posted a link to this particular site of mine that I own and run. I was happy to reciprocate – both sites are in the same line of work and it’s nice to be associated with and to get a link from an up-and-coming and, hopefully, nationally-recognised brand. They get a permanent link on a 5 year old page listing resources in the industry sector, 1 folder away from the homepage and linked to from every page of that website. In return my link is already posted on a resource page in their site, albeit 2 levels deep, but it’s accessible from…


It’s accessible from nowhere. This is a pointless, standalone page. It has no inbound links. It is not in their main navigation. It’s not in their sitemap. It’s not in their XML Sitemap. It’s not listed in the SEs. It’s not accessible other than by the link they sent me. I ran a spider through their entire  website and not once does a link to this page appear in any single one of 20,000 or so URLs. This page serves no purpose… Other than to sweeten up site owners whom may believe they are simply trading links.

Now whether this is the company itself doing their own SEO or whether it’s being outsourced or not I don’t know but that’s a pretty unsavoury, unethical practice.

They have been contacted and I’ve refrained from naming them as I’m awaiting a response to the question as to why their resources page is invisible except to those webmasters they approach for a link exchange request.

Their reputation management may have been pretty intact until now…


4 comments on “Shyster SEO

  1. BookishBeckyNo Gravatar says:

    Wow, nice investigative work Mr. Mackenzie Ross! I’m intrigued as to what their response will be….

  2. Likewise. Link trading can have reciprocal benefits but in this case they get a useful link but offer me a useless one in return. That is, quite frankly, deceptive. Whether it was intentional or not we shall soon find out…

    There were actually two emails from them about 8 weeks apart so they’re quite keen to get a link but are failing to provide a fair & honest return.

    There are 20 links on their link page so I wonder if all the other websites listed have been approached in a similar manner and whether or not they realise the link page is redundant.

    If this doesn’t pan out in the manner I expect it to I may consider a) approaching the other website owners and b) making a full disclosure

    It’s all pretty minor stuff but the nature of it is what bothers me.

  3. Nice work … I tend to shy away from link trading particularly, unless they are friends, surely if you are building great content it is a natural progression that people will link, and if you are building a directory for business reasons, well …

  4. Cheers, Vincent. As you know, research and analysis are an intrinsic part of life as a web professional, so it’s always good to investigate what’s being proposed – absolutely f-all in this case.

    Link-building is a natural and organic progression and, very occasionally, it can be worth trading, but on the whole I’m with you. Once web relationships and friendships blossom linking becomes very worthwhile. You know what?… I think I’m going to throw you a link in my blogroll 🙂

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