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Songs on the Security of Networks
a blog by Michał "rysiek" Woźniak

Dealing with SEO Link Spam E-mails

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer. I am not your lawyer. None of this is legal advice. All of this might also be a horribly bad idea.

Ah, SEO link spam e-mails. If you have a blog that’s been online longer than, say, three years, you know what I’m talking about:


I read your article at <link-to-a-blogpost-of-mine> talking about <actually-not-the-topic-of-the-blogpost>. I think your readers would benefit from a link to <link-to-an-irrelevant-or-trivial-piece>.

Would you consider linking to our article?

For a long time I just ignored these, flagging as spam and moving on. Obviously I am not going to link to some marketing crap that’s there only to drive up SEO of some random site.

But then that one spammer showed up in my mailbox, and he was persistent. Several e-mails and follow-ups within a month. I decided I needed a better strategy.

What if I told them to pay for a link being placed on my blog?

I asked for input on fedi, and after quite a few useful suggestions and comments, I drafted what is now my standard template to deal with these kinds of requests.

The Template


thanks for reaching out. My going rate for a link placed on my blog is $500USD; I get to decide where and how I place it, and within what content. It will be placed in a regular blogpost, reachable by search engines, on the blog in question. It will stay up for at least a year. No other guarantees are made.

I require payment of half of the sum ($250, non-refundable) before I prepare the specific placement offer, for you to accept or reject. The placement, context and meaning of the link in the placement offer shall be determined at my sole and absolute discretion. There is no representation or warranty whatsoever as to whether the link is placed in a way that would imply an endorsement, or even fail to be an explicit or implied disparagement.

Once provided, the placement offer is final, and if rejected, I understand you are no longer interested in placing a link on my blog. At that point the initial payment is considered payment for my time and expertise in preparing the placement offer.

Once you accept the placement offer, I will put the link on-line within 10 business days, and I will expect payment in full at the latest 20 business days from it went online. After that period interest will accrue at 12% p.a., calculated annually.

Please be advised that any further communication from anyone at <company-name-or-domain-spam-e-mail-was-sent-from> or in relation to <domain-of-the-link-being-peddled> that is neither a clear rejection of this deal nor acceptance of the terms as outlined herein (and discussion about invoicing or accounting technicalities) will accrue a $50 processing fee. Any further communication from anyone at <company-name-or-domain-spam-e-mail-was-sent-from> or in relation to <domain-of-the-link-being-peddled>, including apparently unrelated to the matter at hand, amounts to acceptance of these terms, regardless of when it takes place and who the sender is. Any and all disputes must be subject only to the law of my jurisdiction (Iceland) and handled solely in the courts herein.

Do let me know if you have any specific invoicing/accounting requirements. I am looking forward to doing business with you.

The Point

The point, obviously, is to limit the amount of SEO link spam e-mails I have to deal with. But of course if somebody decides to take me up on the offer, I am happy to pocket the $500 to publish a blogpost about how they just paid $500 for the privilege of being made fun of, by me.

Yes, I will link to where they ask, yes it will be reachable by search engines, but also: yes, the link might have rel="sponsored nofollow" attribute set.

This is also somewhat the point of this very blogpost. Each and every SEO link spam e-mail claims that the sender “has read my site”. Well, if they did, they are now surely aware what’s in stock.

Finally, most SEO link spam e-mails mention you can “unsubscribe” by replying to them. I never “subscribed” to any of them in the first place, so that just feels wrong. More importantly though, I simply don’t trust the spammers to actually respect my request to be removed from their contacts database.

I do however trust that once they are informed that any further communication would cost them $50, they might not want to communicate further.

The Outcome

I have used the template several times over the last few months. I have not once heard back from any of the spammers that got served with it, and the overall amount of SEO link spam e-mails I receive seems to have gone down measurably — which might or might not be related to my use of the template, of course.

The Future

I would love to be able to charge SEO link spam e-mail senders even for the first e-mail they send me. So I am thinking of adding some kind of EULA to that effect to my blog.

I hate EULAs; I find the assumption that some terms are binding even if the visitor has not explicitly agreed to them (nor read them) to be asinine. But if that’s the world we live in, I might as well use it to make SEO link spam a bit more costly.