I posted a job on Upwork for white-hat, quality link building. I got a response from a freelancer promising the following:
“I will carry out an extensive research based on industry vertical and first prepare a list of related blogs, bloggers, influencers and website owners and start with an outreach campaign to gain valuable link placement on authority sites. Backlinks will be on highly relevant and authority sites and will be permanent and contextual links. Recently, I’ve had a very good success rate building in-content links on already published articles on authority sites.”
He ended up placing 4 links on sites that had the lowest quality writing. 1 was de-indexed in google indicating it had already been penalized for spamming; 1 used to be a French e-commerce site that went out of business, and the domain was bought for history/DA and turned into a blog to sell links (domain name was complete irrelevant to the niche); 3 had all traffic coming from referral and direct traffic, indicating a PBN.
I asked him to remove the links. He never did. I ended up having to disavow the links.
What made matters worse, is when I contact Upwork and asked if I could leave feedback so other businesses would have a warning, they told me feedback was only allowed when payment was made on a project, but that it would count towards the freelancers job completion rate.
I checked the freelancers job completion rate, at it was at 53%. Obviously, if someone misrepresents their skills, there will be a dispute. And, given his completion rate, this likely wasn’t the first time. He is still operating nonetheless. This policy facilitates bad behavior by freelancers, and is a shady business practice by Upwork.