The Google Penguin 3.0 update arrived less than two weeks ago. Because of the algorithm, one of the most common Google searches today for online marketing managers goes something like this, “How to request link removal”. Did Penguin 3.0 hit your site? Or are you feeling lucky that it missed you this time but don’t want to take any chances on the next roll out? If so, then you’re right in wanting links on bad websites that point to yours promptly removed. While you do have the Google disavow option, Google themselves insist that this be your last resort. All that you are truly left with is one-on one-communications with webmasters that host links to your site, the ones that are causing you concern.
I’m not here to ask how you got these links. You may be absolutely innocent and at the mercy of the SEO mafia who have gotten you involved in link schemes. Perhaps not. I’m not here to judge, only to help. Once you’ve identified the links on websites that you want removed you will need to craft a series of emails to contact the associated webmasters and request removal without aggravating them and/or causing further harm to your site. Below is what you will need to do.
5 Steps to Requesting a Bad Link to Your Website be Removed Without Risking Further Harm to Your SEO
1. Don’t Be Demanding or Insulting
Whether you had the link placed there (guest blog post, link buy, etc…) or the webmaster linked to you naturally you will want to resist the urge to demand its removal. Ultimately, the power is in the webmaster’s hands so you do not want to give them incentive to leave the link up out of spite. In circumstances where the webmaster linked to you naturally you do not want to insult them by suggesting that their website is bad news (even if it is). Simply let them know that while you appreciate them linking to you, it is your online brand’s policy to limit backlinks. There is always the option to allow the naturally linking webmaster to maintain reference to your online brand when providing attribution to your content (quotes, statistics, images). You can state that all links pointing to your website be NoFollow links or simply implied links. Also remember that your first contact needs to “have them at hello” which means that the email subject line should avoid a demanding/insulting tone. When contacting a content site (e.g. a blogger, etc…) you will want to consider subject lines like the examples found below:
SUBJECT: Request Regarding Your Real Estate Article.
SUBJECT: Our Business Referenced in Your Travel Article.
2. Tell the Webmaster that You’re Changing Your URL Structure
Whether true or not one of the most effective ways to get a webmaster to remove a link to your website is if you “alert” them that you are changing the URL structure of your site links. They know that this will cause 404 errors when their visitors click the links within their article. This is bad for their users’ experience and for their website. They will very likely remove these links quickly.
3. Inform the Webmaster that Google is Cracking Down on Spam Comments (Where Applicable)
It can be difficult to get links that were placed in comments within site forums removed. The webmaster didn’t put them there so they feel no responsibility. However when you have solicited the services of less reputable link builders they have likely peppered forums with links to your site. In such a situation you need to graze the panic button ever so slightly. Approach the webmaster as if you have the best interests of both of you in mind, protecting yourselves against the common enemy of a Google algorithm, so to speak. Let them know that Google is cracking down (absolutely true) on questionable links placed within forums (provide proof articles where necessary). Inform the webmaster that while you had nothing but good intentions by placing a link to contribute to their forum discussion that your link and their site may now be a candidate for a Google penalty, even if it is “unfair”. The webmaster may not be impressed, but they will likely remove the link to protect themselves.
4. Be Prepared to Pay for Their Time and Effort
This necessary evil comes down to those situations where your site has become involved in a link scheme. Whether your link builder has purchased an online advertorial (without following the rel=”nofollow” advertorial rule), used a spammy paid directory, or outright bought a link within a blogger’s article, you will likely have to negotiate your link out of there. Be sure to follow the advice in the three items above when contacting these webmasters so that the removal goes smoothly. If you want the link deleted as fast as humanly possible then you may consider proactively being the one to offer payment, which can ultimately serve to reduce the amount you have to pay for the removal in the first place. The figure is often arbitrary and the webmaster will just throw any old number out there without any idea of what such a thing (link removal) is financially worth. Conclude your prompt link removal request with a variation of the following;
“For your prompt reply, link removal, and convenience we are happy to pay you $25 for your time.“
5. If All Else Fails “Threaten” to Disavow
If, and only if, the webmaster refuses to respond or is being difficult, politely inform them that your only recourse left is to use the Google disavow tool. Inform them that when Google sees that their site has disavow requests coming from it that it will cause Google to audit their site for spammy practices and is ultimately bad for their own SEO. If the webmaster still refuses, you will indeed need to use the disavow tool to protect yourself.
Conclusion – I have provided an example of a cordial yet very effective link removal request. Feel free to edit it to account for the specific details relating to your website:
SUBJECT: Request Regarding Your Travel Article.
Our client has a link within an article on your site here (see paragraph two within the anchor “book this listing now”).
They (client) are in the process of changing URL structures on their site and in order to prevent 404 errors for YOUR website and to avoid readers finding a link to the client’s site that does not work we are encouraging webmasters to remove these links completely. For your prompt reply, link removal, and convenience we are happy to pay you $25 for your time. That’s right – $25 to do nothing but remove a link.
Please respond as soon as possible and we will invoice your payment immediately.
I’ve had to clean up the link profiles of clients who have been victimized by less than ethical SEOs in the past so I know the above requests do in fact work. If you are unsure about the quality of links pointing to your website and/or need help identifying and having them removed please contact this internet marketing provider as soon as possible and be on the way to a clean bill of backlink health.