An Open Letter to SEO types

If you’re not a blogger then this post will be pretty meaningless to you – so feel free to skip it. But, if you’re a blogger then ‘Tom’ may seem quite familiar to you – and if you work in SEO, and ‘Tom’ sounds familiar then I hope you understand how I feel when I get emails from people like you.

Dear ‘Tom’ with your random gmail address,

Thanks so much for your email. It’s so nice of you to reach out, get in contact and offer me a guest post on my website, completely free of charge.

You’re a blogger or maybe a freelance writer and you want to expand your portfolio, get some experience writing articles and you won’t charge me for the amazing content you produce. It will be unique, well written and something I will be proud to have on my website.

You’ve even thought up some great titles for the posts that you apparently haven’t yet written – hacks to keep your fridge clean at all times, best washer dryer designs for a small laundry room or tips to organise your refrigerator like a professional. They are obviously so in keeping with the theme of my blog that they would fit seamlessly into my existing content. Wouldn’t they?

The thing is, Tom, I’ve already had emails from Dave, Jim and Simon today with the same emphasis as yours. Just like I have emails every single day from different, faceless people all with different email addresses, always gmail and always with the same message – free content just for me. I would be mad to decline wouldn’t I?

But, what you fail to mention is that each post you so generously give me, to fill a gap in my editorial calendar, will have a lovely link back to a brand website. Maybe even a couple of brands – in this case an appliance manufacturer. But that’s not a problem, I hear you say. Natural links are something Google likes and it’s nice to help direct a reader to other websites they may be interested in.

But, Tom, I have been blogging for a while now and I know that you have been paid by that brand to get links back to their website. I know you are not just a freelance writer looking to expand your portfolio. I know that you are actually just looking to link build and to get those links any way possible. Your emails are full of lies – from the fact you’re a blogger like me to the fact you love my website which I know you have barely looked at. Your name probably isn’t Tom and the gmail address was probably created just a few hours ago purely to contact people like me – with no comeback, a faceless persona of a character who doesn’t really exist.

So, Tom, thanks for your email. I appreciate you offering me content for free but, I know your game. I have seen it repeated so many times, every single day, and I’ll have to decline. I would rather create my own content – for free, build my own links and link to brands that I want to link to – rather than being conned by you.

Tom, you have made me so cautious. If anyone emails me asking to guest post I think they are like you. I mention commercial links right from the outset as I know, more often than not, those guest post requests will be from people like you. Most disappear, never to be heard from again or others offer me $10 to publish their guest post – they’re only a poor writer after all.

What I’m trying to say, Tom, is that I’m done. I have had enough of your proposals, your pitches and your lies. Bloggers like to collaborate, they like to work with people on creating content, sharing content and shouting about topics close to their heart – but they don’t like being lied to.

So, Tom, stop lying. Email me and ask me if you can submit an article for publication on my website. Tell me who it will be advertising, be clear about who you are working for and, accept that your article will be disclosed as the collaborative guest post that it is. But, also, expect to pay myself and other bloggers to host your content. Expect to pay for those links – just like you have been paid by the brand – and expect to pay to market that brand to the audience bloggers have grown over time.

Until then, Tom, expect to be ignored, to have your endless gmail emails deleted, to have them sent to spam – a place they deserve to be. I don’t have the time or inclination for these games – I’m sorry it has to end like this but one of us has to change, and I think that one is me. I cannot reply politely any more, I can’t keep having the same conversations day in and day out.

Good luck Tom, I wish you every success but I can’t even humour you any more.

Best wishes


An exasperated blogger with not enough hours in the day.

An Open Letter to SEO types


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. Yes yes yes. I’ve stopped replying politely now and just ask them to remove me from their mailing list. Bloody chancers. I don’t have enough time in the day to do my own work, let alone this nonsense. Fab post.

  2. I think if you are ‘actually’ a blogger/writer and have clear examples of your work or a portfolio then there isn’t an issue. Your blog is a portfolio of your work and if it’s well established and you write well then it’s a great way of showcasing your writing to other publications. You’re not just trying to get a link back to your blog but to expand your repertoire. Keep doing what you’re doing 🙂 x

  3. Great post. Also if you link back to them it should only be relevent for your blog or website. Otherwise Google may black list you if dodgy links

    Bottom line is only do genuine link backs to people you know like and trust.

  4. Love this. My favourite is James. I get a lot of emails from James. All with different emails, but tweaked content, and repeated emails. Often I get 3 for similar companies from James the same day. I’m convinced it’s the same person, but needless to say he refused to respond when I mentioned he may have emailed 2 days ago and last week, and could he be the same person asking about another post submission.

    I find the best way to get rid is to tell them I only do nofollow links. Although 2 have recently come back and said yes with reasonable budget….although no article has been forthcoming. It’s such a waste of time when I work full time and blog fo the similar amount of time, to be replying to these (when I can be bothered).

  5. Yes! As both a blogger AND someone who works in SEO/Digital Marketing with history of contacting bloggers / sites for publishing articles… I’ve always found success when we are transparent and open. “Hey, I’m emailing on behalf of X brand and we’ve found your blog to be of interest to our customers. We’ve got this list of ideas: • X idea • Y idea • Z idea. We’re wondering if you’d like to work with us to publish this article? If you have another idea that may work better, let us know.” etc. etc. Spammy SEO content marketing emails don’t work… Sorry Tom.

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