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How to Disassociate Your Site from Bad Links
By Robert Reeve, Feb 05, 2014
On some occasions, you might find a link that you do not particularly want to be associated with, but that is actually sending a healthy volume of referral traffic to your website. If this is the case, you should keep the link, but request that the link have the rel=”nofollow” attribute added to it. This tells Google that the link is there to drive traffic and not to benefit from link juice transfer for SEO purposes, and means you will not be subject to a penalty because of this particular link.
However, the majority of the time, it will likely be the case that you simply need to try to get a link removed. Although the success rate for this initiative is very small – consider yourself lucky if you manage to get 5% of links removed – Google ultimately holds you responsible for the links pointing at your site, and wants to see you have taken action yourself before using the disavow tool.
The easiest thing to do is go to the “Contact” page of a website, find the email address, and then write it into a Google Docs spreadsheet beside the link you want removing, so you know what you are referring to when you get in touch with Google. Keep a note of all contact you have with webmasters so further down the line when it comes to filing a reconsideration request you can show Google just how much work you have done to try and get the links removed. Make a note of the contact name, too, if it is available, as a personal email is far likelier to have a favourable income in comparison to one that has clearly been sent to 100+ people.
At the same time, you should understand that spammy websites don’t always have their contact details immediately to hand, simply because they don’t want to deal with the deluge of nofollow or removal requests they know they are going to get. If there is no obvious place where contact details can be found try checking the source code of the site (right click, view source code) and then use CTRL+F to search for the “@” symbol. This won’t always find a contact email, but it is worth a try.
The final thing you can do is a WHOIS lookup for the domain where the offending link is coming from, and get the contact details from there. You should be able to find a contact email address 90% of the time. If you can’t, these links should be marked for disavowing.
Note that while Google understands the removal rate from contacting webmasters in this way is low, you still need to do it. Google will take a dim view of anyone who goes straight into using disavow links without making any effort to have links removed naturally first, and it could influence whether they lift a manual penalty.
Once you have all the contact details you can find, it is time to start sending emails. Using an on-site contact form is also acceptable, but a direct email usually works best. Send your email from the domain you want the link to be removed from. If you send it from a general email account like Gmail nothing will happen, you could be anyone getting in touch to get competitors’ links removed, irrespective of if they are bad links or not!
Ensure you consider the following when sending a removal request:
- Be polite, and explain why you have gotten in touch.Avoid, “Please ensure you remove this link from your rubbish website so my rankings can recover,” as it will be deleted right away.
- Make it easy for the link to be removed; tell the webmaster the page it is on (put the link in the email) and say what the anchor text is.The easier you make a webmaster’s job, the more likely it is you will get what you want.
- Be sure to tailor your message accordingly if you have a professional relationship with any websites you are contacting.The last thing you want to do is sour a working agreement or lose business because of a poorly worded email!
Think about what the ideal email referring to a link removal would look like if you were receiving it yourself, and then ensure this is what you send to others.
As with everything you have done so far, you need to record what response you get, if any. You might get a return email asking you to pay for links to be removed, or a simple refusal to do it. If either of these happen, or you receive no response, you will need to move on to disavowing the links.
Keep all of the data you have collated in your spreadsheet, as this is your evidence to send to Google when you place your reconsideration request later.
In addition to recording all of this, keep a separate record of any outright refusals or requests for payment for link removal, and report these to Google separately as well as within the spreadsheet.
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