Sketchy SEO: Fake Law Firm Threatening Legal Action

This is a new one! David Kadavy (who wrote the excellent business book “Mind Management, Not Time Management” which I highly recommend) shared on Twitter a pretty wild black-hat link building tactic.

He was contacted by an SEO agency pretending to be a law firm, insisting that he link back to an Australian plumber’s website because he is using what they claim is that company’s image (demonstrably false).

Why are they doing this? Backlinks (links from another website pointing to your own) are a major ranking factor in SEO, because Google sees links to your site as a kind of “endorsement” and will give you better rankings.

Links from highly trustworthy sites like major news media carry more weight than others, but a large number of medium-quality links adds up. That’s what this SEO provider is trying to do. If I were to guess, they use a reverse image search to find people using a particular free stock photo of Sydney – because the article in question is presumably about Sydney or Australia, that gives the page just enough topical relevance that a backlink from that page might make sense in Google’s eyes. The SEOs then send an email from a “lawyer” warning people that they must provide a link. Note in David’s screenshot how they specifically say that removing the photo is not acceptable – a link is what they’re really after.

This tactic would probably be successful in getting a rankings boost for the plumber, but it goes without saying that impersonating a lawyer and fraudulently threatening strangers on the internet with legal action is an absolutely awful way to go about it. David contacted the plumbers in question, since they are probably not aware of what their SEO agency is doing in their name.

You can see the details from David here: