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Old 01-12-2006   #1
cyberian
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Is Emailing Webmasters For Links Spam?

I'm new to SEO and was looking to buy SEO elite and it provides the whois email addresses for you to exchange reciprocal links. I was wondering if this is considered spam as it is unsolicited email. I also read about this method from other SEO sources.

Has anyone purchased SEO elite? Does it really help your ranking? I did a search for reviews, but it looks like no one has purchased it or hasn't given a good review.
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Old 01-12-2006   #2
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Welcome, cyberian. Link request emails MAY be considered spam by some web hosts and some webmaster recipients of such email.

The key variables from the web host standpoint are the number of requests that you send, whether they are almost identical, and, most important, if they get complaints from recipients. Some hosts won't shut you down for all but the most egregious spamming, while others seem to have a "presumed guilty" approach.

As far as webmasters reporting you, it's possible that you could get reported for even a well written, personal email. It's far more likely, though, that a webmaster will report you if the request appears to be automated or has little or no thought content. I get a ton of automated link requests from crappy hyphenated domains and just delete them, but some people take the time to file spam reports.

My advice: if you use a link hunting tool, use it for research only. Make personal contacts with link partners by personal email, by using an on-site form, or even by phone/snail mail. Look for a smaller number of high quality links rather than a lot of marginal ones. In all of your contacts, be sure to demonstrate that you are familiar with the other webmaster's site and make a good case for linkage.

Many feel that reciprocal links are declining in effectiveness. This factor, combined with a deluge of automated requests and improving SE algos, suggest that automated link development will be increasingly ineffective.
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Old 01-12-2006   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cyberian
I was wondering if this is considered spam as it is unsolicited email. I also read about this method from other SEO sources.
Yes it is. As one who receives those almost daily, I hate them and am very quick to delete them. You may get some response but I wouldn't think much.
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Old 01-13-2006   #4
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thanks for replying!

I guess since this is considered spam and the makers of SEO elite have not raised this issue, then most likely all their other claims may not be valid so I guess I wont be buying that product.

Now, the question is, if link popularity is currently required for high rankings and we are somewhat limited in how we approach other site owners (email is out. my ISP will fine me $200 for spamming) and finding legitimate link exchanges...how do we discern from link farms?

I just feel like I missed the boat again lol. There is so much competition and so much to learn and do for site optimization.

Does anyone think a newbie, one-person site developer can catch up with everyone else and make a dent in a niche? I imagine it will take lots of time networking for links when all the top pple already have large networks.

I'm thinking of going into Adwords since there is no begging and relying on others and doing SEO tricks...possibly getting banned from a SE after all your hard work. Anyone have success in that?
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Old 01-13-2006   #5
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my take on the question

Putting all software concerns aside for a moment...If I run a business, I should expect to occasionally get calls from other businesses that wish to work with me. These are professional, and I can choose to have a receptionist "screen calls" or simply take all calls and hear someone out for a few minutes, depending on the day. The same goes with my email inbox. If I want to block a pesky affiliate person () from sending me constant emails, all I have to do is block the address.

In my opinion, soliciting links is not spam, as long as it is done in a professional manner. Eric Ward believes this as well. Think of it as entering into a business relationship, and you will more than likely come off better than if you send a "dear webmaster I saw your site it's the best in the world blah blah blah" email. If the link is very relevant to your site and you provide enough legitimate content on yours, you should have no qualms actually following up the request with a call.

Now I know people are thinking: "Great! He's advocating having buffoons call me for link exchanges..." The point as with anything is moderation. You shouldn't be going after solely reciprocal links anyway. This topic has been covered very well in this thread and this one, as well as others within this forum area.

As far as the AdWords question, please spend some time reading threads in this area, and post a separate topic there, if you would be so kind.

Thanks!
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Old 01-13-2006   #6
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Intent

I receive, on average, 5000 emails a day and double that on weekends. Most of it is filtered and I never see the stuff.

In another account, I get Cre8asiteforums related email, consisting of true inquires and posts.

I can tell the difference between an automated link request and an honest to goodness genuine one. The honest one has looked at my sites, and has read my link policy first. They also can't help but notice I don't have a "links page" to reciprocate with, so its funny when they ask to be placed there.

All the automated, "I'm lying when I say I visited your site" emails are tagged as "Spam". The ones with a real voice who did some homework before writing are at least looked at in the half second of time I have. I've been known to be friendly to intelligently proposed requests and will find a way to send them link love. These amount to about 3 a year.

Sadly, its obvious that many people have never studied how to do this properly. Eric Ward and Debra O'Neil-Mastaler are great guides.

The link requests to the forums is just pathetic. When did forums start reciprocal linking?

Last edited by cre8pc : 01-13-2006 at 01:59 PM.
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Old 01-13-2006   #7
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As far as I am concerned ANY unsolicited e-mail is SPAM.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=SPAM

I don't even count the SPAM I receive any more, I weigh it in megs of storage.
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Old 01-13-2006   #8
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Every peice of unsoliticed mail is spam? That's a pretty strict definition of spam.

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=unsolicited

IMO
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Old 01-13-2006   #9
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That's a pretty strict definition of spam.
Maybe, but if I didn't ask for it or agree to receive it, I don't want it.

SPAM=
Quote:
Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.
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Old 01-14-2006   #10
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I'm the last person who would want to be seen as defending spammers in any way, but I do want to clarify that definition.

First, keep in mind that *usually* on forums when people resort to a dictionary, it means they are out of actual arguments and are trying the "argumentum ad verecundiam", or "appeal to authority. It's generally considered a false argument.

But sometimes it's a good starting point. It's just a lousy ending point. Everyone, even dictionary writers, has an agenda. Sometimes you agree with the agenda, and sometimes you don't.

I'll bite on this one, because you guys have brought up a good starting point. But I'm not gonna let you off the hook as a final conclusion. I actually agree with most of the definition, but not the resulting assumptions. In short, the definition isn't clear enough.

Dictionaries change all the time, and usually lag behind the times (sometimes by a decade or more), which means you can't really use them for most internet based arguments.

We will start with the definition referenced above:

Quote:
Unsolicited e-mail, often of a commercial nature, sent indiscriminately to multiple mailing lists, individuals, or newsgroups; junk e-mail.
Not bad. Pretty darn close actually. But I have some questions. Let's start with unsolicited.

1. If I send an email to an old friend I haven't seen for a long, he obviously hasn't asked me to contact him. This is unsolicited. Is it SPAM?

2. A potential client sends me an email requesting my services. Is this unsolicited? If my website invites potential clients to contact me, then, even if I've never heard of this person, it's probably solicited, at least for purposes related to the website.

3. If I sign up for a newsletter and click on the "Yes, send me offers form partners" choice or put my link of a directory but fail to read the fine print, and then get a bazillion pieces of mail every day as a result, is this OK because I technically solicited it? It's now defined as not SPAM?

4. What if the email was unsolicited but welcome? Say a note from an old friend?

5. What if the email is from a co-worker related to your work? It's commercial, and you probably didn't really want it, and you sure as heck didn't go asking for it, but it's your job to accept it. If you are required to accept email, does that count as solicitation?

6. What if it's from a lawyer suing you? Certainly unsolicited, certainly unwelcome, and certainly commercial (ie money involved) in nature. Spam?

Now lets go to "commercial"

This definition states "usually commercial". Most of the time, I see SPAM as being defined as "commercial", though. I'll address both.

1. If I send out bazillions of emails to people to try to get them to join my religion/political party/etc, since these are not "commercial" in nature, are these considered SPAM or not? I have a notice on my door on my home that states "No Commercial or Religious Solicitation - Flyers OK" and usually this works pretty well. But I had one guy knock and tell me that since he had a FREE offer, it wasn't commercial. I kicked him out. Am I a big meanie or a bad sign writer?

2. On the other hand, if you don't restrict the definition to commercial, then every single time you send an email to a loved one, friend or co-worker, it would be considered spam. What if the email was unsolicited but welcome?

3. Define "commercial". Go ahead, I dare ya. I can come up with all sorts of examples of things that you know in your gut are commercial, but won't fit the definition you try to come up with, like that guy with his free offer, or invitations to a free dinner, where you are guaranteed to win either a new home or a genuine fake ruby, and all you have to do is listen to a free, no obligation presentation about swampland condos in Florida.

Now lets go to "sent indiscriminately"

1. What if I'm very descriminating? What if I specifically send it to every 18-25 year old male in the US, and am very careful to target that group. It's not indiscriminate at all. So it's not SPAM?

2. What if I send one email to one person, but it's not solicited and it's commercial - is that SPAM? What if I was indiscriminant in choosing that person?

Personally, I think "bulk" or "mass distribution" is necessary for something to be considered spam. If it's just a few, it might be junk, or unwelcome, but I'd personally prefer to slap the "spam" label on those that truly deserve it. Calling everything spam unless proven otherwise cheapens and weakens the concept, IMO. Spam should be something that is BAD, not "normal" or usual.

Back in law school, my constitutional law professor pointed something out to us - almost every modern legal system in the world has some type of wording that says something like "cruel and unusual punishment is against the law".

He pointed out that the wording is actually very important. It says cruel AND unusual, not cruel OR unusual. That's a huge difference. A judge can choose an unusual punishment as long as it's not cruel, and a judge can choose a cruel punishment as long as it's not unusual (lets face it, jail is cruel, but not unusual). This combination of factors allows the greatest flexibility with the best focus on dealing with the problem.

The CAN-SPAM act (parts of which I disagree with vehemently) defines email SPAM as "bulk unsolicited commercial email". This is actually a pretty good definition. It's what happens afterward in the act I disagree with.

In order for something to be considered spam under this act, it must be bulk + unsolicited + commercial.

Certainly, anything falling into this would be spam, IMO. But I'd not sure it goes far enough. Personally, I would remove the "commercial" part from it and stick with bulk + unsolicited. I can't think of any instance where something send in bulk and was unsolicited would not be considered spam by most people.

Thoughts?

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Old 01-14-2006   #11
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Oh, and in direct answer to the OP's question (IMO):

1. If there is an indication on the site that the webmaster accepts link exchanges, then it's not spam (even if it's in bulk), as long as you fall within the guidelines the webmaster gives (ie "we are looking for other real estate agents to trade links with" does not mean your gambling site will be welcome).

2. If there is no indication that the webmaster accepts links or not, then it's spam if you send the emails in bulk, but probably not if it's one at a time, personalized and clear.

3. If it's clear the webmaster does NOT accept links, or does not accept the kind of links you have, then it's spam if send in bulk and unwelcome and a waste of time if sent personally.

As an added note, I would support a generally accepted page or tag that indicated whether a site accepts links or not. Maybe like a "Link Policy" notice at the bottom of the page beside the privacy and copyright notice. The only issue would be that many spammers simply would not care to look.

My opinion,

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Last edited by mcanerin : 01-14-2006 at 02:37 AM.
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Old 01-14-2006   #12
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Quote:
First, keep in mind that *usually* on forums when people resort to a dictionary...
(Nice under-backhanded shot for an Overseer - I really respect someone that can obfuscate the issue and attempt to remove the credibility of a person in one fell swoop. )

I use the Dictionary to make a point. IMO, people that attempt to show that the Dictionary is wrong are often trying to twist, confuse and distort the issues to their own incorrect point of view. But, like I said that is just my opinion.

Quote:
If there is an indication on the site that the webmaster accepts link exchanges, then it's not spam (even if it's in bulk)...
Really... and just what 'indication' are you talking about, hypertext links on their webpages or just having a website with a email address?

I guess if the site has a sign up stating that they accept link exchanges, it would be OK, because then it is not unsolicited, now is it. But an "indicator" is not an invitation, unless someone wants to try to redefine 'indicator' or 'invitation'...

Last edited by BradBristol : 01-14-2006 at 01:11 PM.
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Old 01-14-2006   #13
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If I send an email to an old friend I haven't seen for a long, he obviously hasn't asked me to contact him. This is unsolicited. Is it SPAM?
I was going to use the exact same argument, but then just decided against it. You were able to far more effectively make that point!

I personally do not accept link exchange requests as spam becuase people will find that we do some forms of link exchanges, but not the typical kind. Yes, the majority of them are junk, but that's the price I pay and our spam filter actually filtes many of them out. The other are looked at briefly to determine if we should look further.

I look at just like regular mail. I get unsoliticed mail in my mailbox all the time. Takes me a few seconds to sort out the good stuff (Netflix DVDs) from the junk ( 0% APR). Actually regular mail is worse, because I have to shred a bunch it which is a bigger hassle than simply deleting an email.
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Old 01-15-2006   #14
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Quote:
Nice under-backhanded shot for an Overseer
It was certainly not intended that way - I'm sorry you took it that way. It was simply an observation made from years of being in forums. As I mentioned later, it's a good start. I've also noticed that's it's extremely rare for dictionaries to agree on definitions between themselves. Do the Google search "define: spam" and you will see what I mean. A dictionary is not a bible.

Having said that, I'm not accusing you of using it that way - I'm just saying that although referring to a dictionary can be helpful, but is rarely the last word unless you are playing Scrabble.

Quote:
I guess if the site has a sign up stating that they accept link exchanges, it would be OK, because then it is not unsolicited, now is it. But an "indicator" is not an invitation, unless someone wants to try to redefine 'indicator' or 'invitation'...
Fair enough, though in view of the above I hope you'll forgive me if I don't refer to a dictionary for the answer

But the sentence actually said "indication on the site that the webmaster accepts link exchanges" not just "indicator". An indicator doesn't mean anything, and is not, by itself intended to be replaced by "invitation" , since an indicator may well make it clear that link exchanges are NOT welcome.

It would have to be an "indicator that the webmaster accepts link exchanges", which, yes could be considered an invitation, in the sense that an advertisement is considered an "invitation to treat", for example.

It's not an invitation in the "gold embossed letter of invitation" sense, of course, but merely an indication that the recipient would be open to your offer.

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Old 01-15-2006   #15
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One ting is what we think is spam or not - another thing is what laws of different countries say is!

We can discuss this all day, agreeing or not, but what it all comes down to is what the law say. And, the law is NOT the same in different countries.

The way spam laws are in Denmark I would say that 99% of all link requests I get is spam.

Another thing, beside law, is how I feel - do I feel it's spam I am getting? If so, I'll report it with the colaborative spam filtering software I am using (takes just one click). If other users do like me you'll soon find that many of your emails gets rejected by the millions of users using this colaborative spam filter software - even if you think it's not spam, or even if it is not spam by law.

So, by the end of the day - if the ones you send your email to feels its spam - it is, and you could pay the price for it, someway or another.
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Old 01-15-2006   #16
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there are tons of link trading services, directories and forums out there

there is no need to email anyone out fo the blue if your goal is just to trade links
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Old 01-16-2006   #17
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Quote:
there are tons of link trading services, directories and forums out there

there is no need to email anyone out fo the blue if your goal is just to trade links
IMO, most of those are junk. I would rather look for a good site that we feel would be of similar interest and contact them directly.
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Old 01-16-2006   #18
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Quote:
but what it all comes down to is what the law say.
Actually, Mikkel, I disagree with you in part on that, as well. It's certainly important as far as enforcement in the courts is concerned, I agree there.

But if I live in a country that has no law against spam, it doesn't mean that all that crap in my inbox is now magically "not spam", does it?

Here is another reason I don't like using laws to tell me what it right or wrong - in most countries, it's illegal to interfere in the delivery of mail, right? So, technically, if my ISP deletes spam on the way to me, is it interfering with the delivery of mail?

Most of us would answer no, but remember most post offices have argued in the past that they should be the ones in charge of email - if you remember back on the old days, there was a constant threat of post offices making you pay a fee for every email sent. Just because a government bureaucrat decides they want to interpret something in some way, doesn't mean it's suddenly the final answer.

At one point, many countries said it was OK to own slaves, or that women were not persons, and many other things. That doesn't mean that it was right one day, and the next day when the law was changed, it was suddenly wrong - the law was changed to properly reflect the state of things (one hopes, anyway).

That's why I have an issue with letting a court decide what is right or wrong, or set out definitions for me. They can decide what's legal and illegal, but that's not the same thing, in my opinion. Governments make mistakes and sometimes don't reflect the will of the people - that's why democracies exist, and why revolutions happen.

Something does not become spam or not spam when it crosses a border - it's either spam or not spam when it's sent in the first place. The only thing that changes based on borders is what the government in question is prepared to do to help you deal with it. In my case, damn little, unfortunately.

My opinion,

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