Unexpectedly Intriguing!
February 20, 2013

Not long ago, we denied an unusual request to remove a link from one of the articles that appeared on our blog. We now have a better understanding of why we received that strange request, thanks to another oddball request we received to remove a different link from another one of our blog posts.

Hi,

My name is Jonathan and I’m getting in touch on behalf of Medical Billing and Coding. I noticed that you’ve linked to my website on your page politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2011_10_01_archive.html with the text "sitting is killing you" and am requesting that you remove the link.

I’m asking this because it’s come to our attention that some of the links to our website have been acquired against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, so it’s important for us to remove links that are harming traffic to our website. Furthermore, by linking to our site, it could be detrimental to your site’s overall traffic, so it will be important for you to remove the link.

Please let me know if you have any questions. If you could email me once you have removed the link that would be great.

Best,

Jonathan Weiner

Ah, yes. Google's Webmater Guidelines, or as so many so-called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) "experts" who claim they can successfully drive traffic to a web site would describe it, their "Bible".

It turns out that the folks at Google just tweaked their search engine's algorithm and revised the guidelines because too many these scummy SEO experts were gaming the system by encouraging other web sites to link back to theirs, offering other web sites and blogs free content like infographics to encourage them to link back to them, regardless of the relevance of the content they gave away freely to the business of their web site.

But now the game is up. Google really wants to provide its users with highly relevant links to encourage them to continue using their Internet search engine, so they worked out how to demote the web sites that engaged in these kind of link schemes to boost their site traffic by boosting their site's Google search engine ranking.

How big a deal is this? Apparently, not getting the same search engine traffic that they used to is driving some of these link schemers to desperation. We've heard back from "Jonathan Weiner" twice since then! The first followup to the original e-mail came one week later:

Hi,

I recently emailed you regarding a link removal request in regards to your website and have not heard back. I’m getting in touch to make sure you received the email and are in the process of removing said links. Please let me know if you haven’t received my first email and I’d be happy to send it again.

And we received a second follow-up one week after that one....

Hi,

Just checking in again about the status of the link removal request I sent you last week. I noticed that your link to medicalbillingandcoding.org is still on your website. My first email was requesting that you take the link down. Please let me know if you’ve done so.

We're afraid that poor "Jonathan Weiner" is just going to have to get used to disappointment in his desperate drive to attract search engine traffic back to his site. And since he's been so persistent, we're opting to respond to his requests publicly, so that others might learn from his mistakes.


Dear Jonathan,

We're afraid that we must deny your request to remove all links to your site from our blog, as we are not responsible for your web site's dual declines in its Google search engine ranking and corresponding website traffic. While we're touched that you seem to care about our own search engine traffic, in truth, while we find it fun to see who's reading our blog, we're happy to grow our traffic organically. Whatever search engine traffic we get, we get the hard way - we produce original content and analysis that we hope our readers find interesting and share with others they believe might have a similar interest in our content, rather than engaging in the kinds of linking schemes that Google frowns upon in its guidelines for webmasters.

Second, we would have been able to respond to your request more quickly if you had properly identified the link of the actual article to where we made fair use of the the infographic your site freely entered into the public domain, rather than a link to our archive of posts from October 2011. As it happens, the "Sitting Is Killing You" infographic appeared as an integral part of the content of our blog post Happy Halloween! Now Have a Seat...., which is one of the more fun posts we wrote back in October 2011.

Third, your request to remove links to your site from our article would violate our editorial policy, where we always seek to identify and attribute the source of any non-original content that may appear on Political Calculations as part of our fair use of the material.

In this case, it appears that we owe you an apology, as we identified noted chart porn addict Barry Ritholtz as our source for the infographic in the text of our article, with the link to your site only clear to readers who might either mouseover the image or click through to your site by clicking the infographic image itself, which represents an error on our part, which we regret.

We will therefore be happy to correct our error and add an additional link to your site instead to better clarify that it is the original source of the infographic, which your site's staff writers had actively encouraged bloggers to post on their own sites back when they entered it into the public domain on 9 May 2011.

We are always happy to correct errors like these that appear on Political Calculations. Thank you for bringing it to our attention!

Best regards,

Ironman @ Political Calculations

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