As a result of this relatively unique status, I get a lot of messages on a fairly regular basis asking me to do one of a few things:
- Update a link on a story I’ve already written to get in a business I didn’t previously mention. Sometimes, this will be pitched as me doing a favor for the publisher; other times, as an offer of exchange for money.
- Write something about a search-friendly topic that is tangentially related to a link I ran in the newsletter more than two years ago—in many cases, this specific post on mattresses, which is the top ranking term for the phrase “hipster mattress.” The emailer is someone who has a link or an infographic that I simply have to put on the site because it’s useful to my readers, or more importantly, to their search position.
- Accept a guest post, or a sponsored post, despite the fact that I say directly on my advertising page that I don’t accept guest posts.
The result of this is that I get numerous requests a week that basically ask me to do one thing in a way big or small: They want me to give up some of my integrity and mission all with the goal of improving their own search engine presence. I get nothing out of the deal. So I pretty much write a lot of “no” responses every single week—because if I don’t, I get many more “did you miss my email” requests.
Often, these messages are automated and written in an effort to catch as many bloggers and publishers as possible. Other times, it’s someone who is human, but is basing their email not on having actually read my article about grocery stores, but because the URL came up positive in a search somewhere, and they’re batting cleanup.
These interactions—often encouraged by modern customer relations management tools—aren’t very helpful at all. In fact, they’re major time sucks for independent publishers who have other things to worry about. I don’t want to update a link in an article I wrote in the summer of 2015; I want to tell new stories and improve the stories I already have. And you didn’t bother to even read my site to realize that I wouldn’t respond favorably to that request.
In a world when our websites are becoming more centralized and less independent, it’s worth keeping in mind that independence comes with a lot of stuff that jumping on someone else’s platform does not. And that includes all the bull of people effectively playing a game of search engine one-upmanship.
I’m sure I’m not the only person who deals with this problem, nor am I the only person to complain about this, but I do think that it’s one of those bad sides to the “open web” that we don’t talk about nearly enough—the fact that it’s not a pure experience, and people are constantly trying to find ways to build up their own sites at the cost of everyone else’s.
I, for one, am not playing your game, spammers.