One of the tasks that I help website owners with is cleaning up their website’s backlinks. If a site has been penalized by Google, or the website has been penalized by the Google Penguin algorithm update, then it’s necessary to take the time to try to get the low quality and toxic links that are pointing to your website removed. I have actually a pretty good response rate when it comes to contacting the site owners. Many are very helpful and will remove links if you ask politely.
Unfortunately, though, there are website owners who feel that they must charge to remove links from their website to your website. That’s been called a shady practice at best, and, reps from Google have said that you shouldn’t have to pay to get the links removed.
I have seen some interesting responses from the hundreds (thousands?) of emails I’ve received in response to a link removal request. But the one I got today has to top the cake. I’m quite disturbed that someone has gone to great lengths to explain linking in their email response to a simple link removal request. But, what’s more disturbing is why exactly they are saying that they must charge to remove the link. Here’s the email exchange. First, the email that I sent:
-------- Original Message -------- Subject: Question about XXXXXXXX - REDACTED.com From: XXXXXXXX - REDACTED Date: Mon, April 07, 2014 1:12 pm To: XXXXXXXX - REDACTED Hi XXXXXXX - REDACTED.com, Recently when we reviewed all of the links to XXXX redacted.com, we noticed that your website is linking to XXXXXXXX - REDACTED.com on this page here: http://www.XXXXXXXX - REDACTED.com/SPORTS/whatever/ I'm wondering if you would remove this link on your website to XXXXXXXX - REDACTED.com? Thank you, Bill (on behalf of XXXXXXXX - REDACTED.com)
And then, this site owner’s response to my email:
Subject: RE: Question about redacted dot com From: contACT@redacted dot comm Date: Mon, April 14, 2014 6:40 pm To: "redacted" Priority: Normal Backlinks are still good for websites and necessary to drive up our rankings. One of the things done on the internet previously was to use our 'meta tag titles and descriptions' for our backlinks creating a massive amount of duplicate content which, of course, is against google rules and has been so for some time. redacted dot com has been online for over 5 years and plans to continue as it was created with the plan to replace, on the internet, the phone directories we have used in the real world for a long time. In other words, if you are searching for a service or product or simply just information, you would have one place to go to find it which is extremely helpful when you travel, get sick or need anything.. redacted dot com has also been quite studious and 'picky' about allowing links and articles on the website. We view each and every website before giving an approval and it is not dependent on profit. We actually work harder than yahoo on our backlinks and you will see listed on yahoo, websites we will not accept. What google isn't sharing with you is the fact you still need backlinks. Also, what is wrong with your link or article, is that it isn't unique meaning the title, description and content must be different than other places. Also, if you only have high ranking websites pointing to your site, it will also appear un-natural so you need a variety. We are actively working hard on our site but things take time. If you choose any lower ranking websites in your 'mix' of backlinks, choose sites that are at least 0/10 or better. Do not choose any website that is na or -00 or anything negative. You may want to choose to look at the history of the website also as that will tell you whether the current ranking has also been affected by google's new change or is it something that is a poor site since it has never been above 0/10. The bottom line is the un-natural link is duplicate content and this can be fixed so it is no longer un-natural. The links on our website was requested by you and free at the time you requested it. We are a human edited directory and not automated therefore we view your website and other things to approve you. Our webmaster is suffering from two massive inoperable brain tumors the size of a baseball and in serious condition needing medicines and is so dangerous it is in a place where our breathing is controlled so only 22% of lung capacity is even left, so we find that in order to satisfy your needs,to change or remove links from our website, we need to charge $2.50 per service or per each link. This is payable via Paypal and this email address: redacted-xxxx @ gmail.com We will accomplish your needed service very quickly upon receipt of payment usually within minutes or hours. Thank you for using our website and we hope to see you in the future too. Sincerely, Webmaster
Seriously? That’s the excuse for charging $2.50 per link removal? And it will be removed within minutes or hours? What about this:
“Our webmaster is suffering from two massive inoperable brain tumors the size of a baseball and in serious condition needing medicines and is so dangerous it is in a place where our breathing is controlled so only 22% of lung capacity is even left, so we find that in order to satisfy your needs,to change or remove links from our website, we need to charge $2.50 per service or per each link.”