Link Removal Blackmail

 
 

In the past few months we’ve all removed a few links, some of us even handled link removal campaigns for our clients. Mistakes of the past practices come back around and now the entire SEO community is dealing with them, it touches every level. It goes so deep that the ones that were selling links a few months back have figured out that they can profit from your bad links which need to be removed by charging you to remove them, genius right? Well in my book this is call link removal blackmail.

link removal blackmail

 

Basically what they are doing is holding your website reputation and possibly your chance of lifting a penalty in their hands and they are blackmailing you for money if you want the link removed. As you can see from the image above the guy claims he has no time to remove the link, but if I pay for his time he will be more than happy to find time from his busy schedule to remove the link (needles to say that this email reply was received just a few hours after link removal request was sent, very fast for someone who doesn’t have time.)

They even have a domain name used for link removal payments. This is not the first time I came across these these types of emails, but today it just made me mad…

So a TIP for all of you that see this type of email in their inbox, don’t negotiate with the link terrorists! Play it cool, take a screenshot of the email and include it with your next reconsideration request or disavow file, that is what I will do. Google will surely not take kind to this type of blackmail and there is no need for any of us to pay to have these links removed, at least in my opinion.

Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments and maybe a few screenshots of similar emails you received.

UPDATE: Just to make things a bit clearer, since people misunderstood, this is not a general reply from one webmaster, but an actual business model where they have a dedicated domain used only for link removal payments, the actual link is blurred in the email, the part that is says “You can do this easily here:” and the domain name is something like “1linkremoval4u dot biz“. So they run a business model where they blackmail/extort people for money to remove links.

 

Zac is a link building specialist and a seasoned SEO professional. He manages a team of link builders and actively promotes some of Australia's biggest brands. Zac is an active blogger and also maintains Dejan SEO's news and updates section.

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25 Responses to “Link Removal Blackmail”

  1. Blackmail them back saying you’d disavow their domain (domain-level disavow) for multiple domains.

     
    • Rohit Palit
  2. Well to be fair, this is the opposite tactic of “I don’t want to disavow your domain so if you don’t want Google to devalue your site, take my link down immediately.” Both sides do it.

     
    • Matt Antonino
  3. Yep replies like this are gold for the reasons you outline. It’s a nice easy disavow, and makes for really good supporting evidence in the resultant reconsideration request.

     
    • Martin Oddy
  4. This is certainly not blackmail! Looks like a perfectly acceptable reply for a business owner to be honest. You wouldn’t expect them to do any other change to their website for free, so why this?!

     
    • Chris Gedge
  5. There is no pressure on penalised sites to pay to get links removed. During a link audit you are just required to document it, and disavow it.

    During the limited audits we have had “pleasure” to do, the only sites which have demanded payment are those which are truly manipulative and spammy. I don’t think we’ve seen any genuine webmasters trying to provide a great website but just getting caught with the ‘machete’ of link auditing, actually demanding payment.

    From the comments already made this might seem controversial but if you’re auditing your links, to reiterate, you should not feel pressurised into paying more, when you’re already paying for an audit (in time and money).

    [Equally, there's no actual forcing of webmasters to take down links on their site either, which is what the disavow file is for]

     
    • Martin Oxby
  6. To be honest auditors shouldn’t be using that tactic either, in my honest opinion.

     
    • Martin Oxby
  7. “UPDATE: Just to make things a bit clearer, since people misunderstood, this is not a general reply from one webmaster, but an actual business model where they have a dedicated domain used only for link removal payments, the actual link is blurred in the email, the part that is says “You can do this easily here:” and the domain name is something like “1linkremoval4u dot biz“. So they run a business model where they blackmail/extort people for money to remove links.”

     
    • Dejan SEO
  8. John Mueller said in a hangout that you do not need to pay for link removal – http://goo.gl/jeD8QW. Just make a note in your spreadsheet that the site owner asked for payment and move on.

    I get these kind of replies a lot when doing link removal campaigns and the kind like the one you quoted don’t really bother me. These site owners for the most part did not do anything wrong. Perhaps years ago they set up a directory or started taking guest posts and there’s nothing wrong with that. But now some of them are getting several requests a day for link removal. I don’t think it’s wrong to ask for a small fee to make the changes. With that being said, I don’t often pay the fee unless I have a site where I’m having trouble getting any links removed.

    The ones that bother me are the nasty replies that get mad at me for asking for link removal and tell me that they’ll only do it for some insane fee of hundreds of dollars. Some of these people took a good 10-15 minutes to craft an angry email. Now when I do my link removal requests I’m careful to word it so that the site owner knows that I’m not questioning the integrity of their site by asking for link removal.

     
    • Marie Haynes
  9. So you are expecting webmasters to work for you for free then? Everyone’s time is valuable, if your client is going around asking for link disavows it means he has done his fair share of spamming. So don’t go around crying murder and pretending to be a purist.

     
    • David
  10. Yo, do whatever you want (document this in your disavowal request, threaten domain-level disavowal, etc) but crying blackmail over a $10 charge for a site update (however minor) is not a good look.

     
    • Michael Griffin
  11. what a crazy world we live in where the bad link spots have power. If that were a valid way to do business, why not just create a site with 1 million spam links, put some big website link in the header, get penalized, then extort the big website for link removal? Google needs to clean this up or at least have a mechanism for us to do so.

     
    • Rob Jenkins
  12. Couldn’t agree more David. No matter what way you spin it, it takes time & money for the webmaster to remove the link and they should in no way be expected to work for free at your beck and call.

    I’ve got no doubt that many many webmasters are capitalising in this link removal panty-twist, but that’s more than their right to do so.

    At the end of the day, Google is to blame here by creating this frenzied black market with their silly half-measure approach of telling people to go and remove links themselves.

     
    • John Cutts
  13. So from here we generated Negative SEO thing …

     
    • Lalit Burma
  14. What about the moral responsibility ? If Zac or his clients paid blackmailer (he was not earlier) to link back than this is now his responsibility to remove those links as well.

     
    • Lalit Burma
  15. No offence but, will you consider it serious if he will blackmailed for $10k ?

    Zac is not trying to talk about the amount of money … but the way this guy is blackmailing.

    If they bought the link from him than this is his personal responsibility to remove such links as well. That’s what my business model is saying.

     
    • Lalit Burma
  16. Tit for tat ? :)

     
    • Lalit Burma
  17. Lol. Kind of. :P

     
    • Rohit Palit
  18. $10 is a legit fee. $10,000 would be extortion.
    Imagine you’re a web designer and a client pays you to add content to their site. A few years later they no longer want said content and ask you to take it down for them. Are you going to do it for free? Probably not; charging a nominal fee is totally expected and, I’d argue, much more professional.

    If the site in question was posting unwanted, unrequested links to other sites, then contacting the site owners saying, “pay us or get Penguin-ized,” then yes, I think you could make a case for blackmail.

    However, as it stands we essentially have a webmaster charging a minor fee for a minor task. No biggie.

     
    • Michael Griffin
  19. You are not getting point here …

    They just want to capitalise the situation here and this is nothing less than blackmail – amount of money is totally irrelevant here.

    Try to understand – They are into the position to force them to pay without willing.

     
    • Lalit Burma
  20. I’m not sure I follow your argument but maybe we’ll just have to agree to disagree.
    Cheers & Happy Monday!

     
    • Michael Griffin
  21. I agree with you Michael….you want me to work you’re going to pay for my time.

     
    • luxurybc
  22. I don’t think people misunderstood at all. I think they just disagree with you.
    It would be like someone condemning you for having an SEO business.
    Someone comes to you asking for SEO services and because you have set up a nice infrastructure (a company) and are asking for payment, it doesn’t mean you are blackmailing them.

    The reality is there is an effort required to remove links.
    Nothing about what you posted sounds unreasonable to me and suggesting its blackmail because they have streamlined the process, in my opinion, in inaccurate.

    It would be different if a site had scraped spammy content with the links and just waited for link removal requests to charge for (which we have come across).

     
    • WIlde Mooney
  23. There is a tool in google webmaster tools to remove unwanted backlinks

     
    • miguel
  24. Thanks for the tip Zac. I have not had this happen yet.
    My main problem is getting people to respond back.
    I totally don’t agree with having to pay to get your link removed.

     
    • MitchMizerak
  25. Hey Zac,
    I totally understand your sentiments. To design this type of business model is quite unreasonable because it takes advantage of people who are already inconvenienced.

     
    • Spook SEO

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