Recently Google has changed their approach in how they deal with spammy links to websites to try to clean up the Internet. What they have done is put the responsibility onto every website owner and operators instead, to look after their own link profiles and if they don’t then Google will take their traffic away, sometimes slowly, sometimes overnight and replace their ranked site with one that has a better link profile (Good link profile what is that?). If or when this happens it is alarming, upsetting and quite stressful if you have been trying to follow Google’s foggy information for websites and how to get rankings.
How do you know if your site has spammy links?
Well if you are a blackhatter then you come to expect a site to at some point lose it rankings but you will benefit for a short while ranking by building spammy links. So a blackhatter knows they have been hit by Google is their site disappears from the serps.
Now if you are someone who has their site in Google Webmaster Tools then you will be sent the unnatural links found email from Google when they think your link profile is looking spammy. What happens after this is up to you now since Google will stop ranking you by slapping you down, and then it is your responsibility now to clean up your back links. How do you do this some many ask?
Since Google has taken the recent stance regarding how it is viewing links to your sites, and basically putting the responsibility onto you to look after your link profile rather then them, getting link removal requests is not uncommon to almost anyone who owns or operates websites. Actually it is becoming so normal in fact that there should be some information available to website owner/operators such as a checklist to use before ever sending out a link request email.
This is my reason for writing this post.
I do not mind receiving a request, as it is not much trouble to help another Webmaster out and I hope that if the day comes where I am asking for help the person on the other end is as willing. What really troubles me though is getting emails from webmasters asking for a removal when they have not done their due diligence first.
Items such as this should be done long before you send out a link removal request:
- Download your links list from Google
- Download your links list from other places like (Majestic SEO, Moz.com, Ahrefs, SEO Spyglass)
- Check your own link building list (Yes you should have one) to compare the found links from the resources above to your own list so you know which links you build and which are not.
- Now that you have an organized list – go and check this list for live links. You can use a tool like Scrapebox to do this very quickly and easily.
- After finding all your live links go through them to find what looks spammy. (If you have too many reciprocal links, directory links, anchor text links with exact matches)
- Build 3 lists, one for links you feel are fine, one for links you are uncertain of and one for links you are certain you want removed.
- Now you need to go and find contact information.
- After building the lists and finding contact information you can then prepare your link removal request email template. Yes I recommend a template; it is much easier then doing an individual email for each request.
Some Tips For Those Who Need To Send Out Link Removal Requests
- My first recommendation is make sure the link is live on the site you are sending the request to. This is my biggest peeve, as most requests I ever receive are for links that do not even exist anymore to be removed. I really do not like my time being wasted and I am certain other webmasters feel the same. (Don’t waste other peoples time MOST IMPORTANT TIP!)
- Use an email address from the domain that the link is pointing to. Why? Link removal request could be sent from your competition as well trying to get your links removed so you do not rank for a keyword anymore. So take the time to setup an email that is not gmail, yahoo, hotmail or other free emails and look professional in your link requests.
- Be Very Polite in your request – This is so very important if you want a positive response on the other end. Any sense of being threatening or rude and your link request will either be ignored or you might end up with a return email that is not so kind. (At times I have felt like sending one of these emails to the sender of the link request, for being rude, and wasting my time. Many adjectives along with nouns come to mind)
- Write your email in a way that it does not imply that you think the site with the link is at fault or is unethical or has bad business practices like in anyway.
- Always include a link to the post where you want the link removed. Being a Webmaster I am not going to go searching for your link for you. Your email will be instantly sent to the garbage.
- Do not send multiple emails, thus spam the site owners with your link removal requests just because you are panicking. (This is Another Peeve of Mine) If you do not receive a response from the site owner it does not mean they did not receive the request. They may have just removed your link and moved on with their websites and projects. It is your responsibility to recheck for live links using a tool like Scrapebox once again, and rebuild your list. Do this after a short period of time like a week or two. Link removals are not going to happen fast. Another way to try to contact an owner is to use the contact form on the website if they have one. After a couple tries move on.
- Document all your email requests – when you sent the request, how you tried to contact the owners (Email directly or contact form) and if you do this that should satisfy Google for those links. (Remember though you may have to repeat the process again for the links you were not sure of).
Below is a sample of a way not to format your link removal request emails.
(*Note the Last Paragraphs Threat)
I certainly expect to see many more link removal request emails in my inbox over the next few months, and years and I suppose any webmaster will also be receiving more as well. Google has opened up a whole new industry where sometimes it could be easier to do negative SEO to a competitors site then it is to building their own rank. It is a shame that as websites owners we must now spent time policing our link profiles.
Just recently I received an email from a website owner like myself that he was very busy cleaning up his link profile and disavowing links because he was a victim of negative SEO. The funny thing is, well not so funny thing is that one of my sites was also being hit with spammy negative SEO as well. I am not sure why someone would do this other than they must have some really big problems mentally. I personally view negative SEO as a form of vandalism; it is just too bad that we cannot prosecute the people who perform this action online. Maybe one day!
Anyways, that is the end of my personal rant, and maybe some of these tips can help as well.