Bill Hartzer

How to Respond to a Link Removal Request

Google has a lot of webmasters scared. Seriously, they really do. Webmasters are so scared now that they are randomly and blindly emailing all the sites that they know about that link to them–and asking for links to be removed to their website.

Google has been sending “unnatural link warnings” to website owners, telling them that they have unnatural links pointing to their website. Unfortunately, many webmasters freak out, think it’s the end of the world or something, and don’t do their proper link research. They’re then emailing webmasters of good links to their site and getting both the good and the bad links removed.

I have been helping webmasters and website owners who have received unnatural link warnings from Google clean up their links. And, if necessary, use the Google Disavow Links tool, to disavow the bad links.

Here’s a typical email that I received recently from a website owner, named Will:

From: Will
Subject: Got Odd Link-Takedown Request Yesterday; -WTH?

Message Body:
Hi Bill!,
Read your article found through a Google search.

-So Yesterday, I got this takedown request and I am not exactly sure what to make of it.

Do you know what the hell this is?

It seemed a little odd and counterintuitive, as:

1)My site, is a legit, high-quality XXXXX blog and has nothing to do with spam.

2)I did the posts because I thought XXXXX’s infographics were great, not because of something nefarious.

3)I was following proper Source Attribution ethics, such as Maria Popova’s “The Curator’s Code”

4)All Link-Text/Names were checked vs. their URLs, and there are no discrepancies.

-So: is this just XXXX carpetbombing because Google penalized them for shady SEO in the past, or is it something different?

Any thoughts & ideas would be most welcome.



Here’s The Email I Received, Quote:”
Hi Will,

My name is Jonathan and I’m getting in touch on behalf of XXXX company. I noticed that you’ve linked to my website on your page with the text “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” and am requesting that you remove the link.

I’m asking this because it’s come to our attention that some of the links to our website have been acquired against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, so it’s important for us to remove links that are harming traffic to our website. Furthermore, by linking to our site, it could be detrimental to your site’s overall traffic, so it will be important for you to remove the link.

Please let me know if you have any questions. If you could email me once you have removed the link that would be great.


Compliance and Standards Team”

-End Quote

I have removed the names of websites and the anchor text and URLs in this to protect the innocent webmasters involved. This is typical. Many of these webmasters are mistakenly emailing lots of good websites–and asking them to take links down or remove the links. This is just wrong. There are cases where links need to be removed–especially if someone hacked into a website and added a page to the site (with your link back to the site). I spent HOURS today identifying all these bad links and am going to take care of them for my client. Here’s just one of hundreds of pages that have been added to literally thousands of websites by hacking into their site:

In the case above, it’s very clear that this is a bad backlink. The page is on someone’s site that has nothing to do with the University of Texas at Arlington (it’s obviously been hacked) and the page should only be on an .EDU site, NOT on some miscellaneous website. Those are the types of links that must be removed.

By notifying the site owners of these types of pages, many have gotten right back to me–explaining that they didn’t know their site was hacked like that. And they’re taking care of the link. So, if you get the link removed, do you really need to use Google or Bing’s disavow link tool to disavow the link? Well, no.

So, if you have a good website and you know that your outgoing links are not bad outgoing links, and you receive one of these takedown notices or link removal notices, then don’t take it personally. In many cases, the webmaster is wrong–and the link should NOT be removed. Perhaps they might like to change the anchor text of how you’re linking to them–but in many cases, if you know your website does not have a problem (like it’s not been hacked and it’s not been de-indexed by Google), then you have nothing to worry about.

So, what about Will? Well, I immediately emailed him:

Bill Hartzer wrote:
I would not worry too much about it. Some websites got link warnings from google and are mistakenly sending out notices like this. They are really only hurting their own site. I would not take it personally.

Here’s what Will wrote back to me:

Ok, cool.

Thanks VERY MUCH for your Extremely fast reply!
I was a little worried there for awhile.


Another fellow website owner helped–for some reason I feel really good about this one. The site was actually really good–and the anchor text of the link was about 5 words in length. Not something that I would have tried to get removed. Oh well.

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