Since the disavow tool has come out SEOs are sending thousands of “remove my link” requests daily. Some of them come off as polite, some lie & claim that the person linking is at huge risk of their own rankings tank, some lie with faux legal risks, some come with “extortionisty” threats that if they don’t do it the sender will report the site to Google or try to get the web host to take down the site, and some come with payment/bribery offers.
If you want results from Google’s jackassery game you either pay heavily with your time, pay with cash, or risk your reputation by threatening or lying broadly to others.
At the same time, Google has suggested that anyone who would want payment to remove links is operating below board. But if you receive these inbound emails (often from anonymous Gmail accounts) you not only have to account for the time it would take to find the links & edit your HTML, but you also have to determine if the person sending the link removal request represents the actual site, or if it is someone trying to screw over one of their competitors. Then, if you confirm that the request is legitimate, you either need to further expand your page’s content to make up for the loss of that resource or find a suitable replacement for the link that was removed. All this takes time. And if that time is from an employee that means money.
There have been hints that if a website is disavowed some number of times that data can be used to further go out & manually penalize more websites, or create link classifications for spam.
… oh no …
Social engineering is the most profitable form of engineering going on in the ‘Plex.
The last rub is this: if you do value your own life at nothing in a misguided effort to help third parties (who may have spammed up your site for links & then often follow it up with lying to you to achieve their own selfish goals), how does that reflect on your priorities and the (lack of) quality in your website?
If you contacted the large branded websites that Google is biasing their algorithms toward promoting, do you think those websites would actually waste their time & resources removing links to third party websites? For free?
Color me skeptical.
As a thought experiment, look through your backlinks for a few spam links that you know are hosted by Google (eg: Google Groups, YouTube, Blogspot, etc.) and try to get Google’s webmaster to help remove those links for you & let us know how well that works out for you.
Some of the larger monopoly & oligopolies don’t offer particularly useful customer service to their paying customers. For example, track how long it takes you to get a person on the other end of the phone with a telecom giant, a cable company, or a mega bank. Better yet, look at how long it took AdWords to openly offer phone support & the non-support they offer AdSense publishers (remember the bit about Larry Page believing that “the whole idea of customer support was ridiculous?”)
For the non-customer Google may simply recommend that the best strategy is to “start over.”
When Google aggregates Webmaster Tools link data from penalized websites they can easily make 2 lists:
- sites frequently disavowed
- sites with links frequently removed
If both lists are equally bad, then you are best off ignoring the removal requests & spending your time & resources improving your site.
If I had to guess, I would imagine that being on the list of “these are the spam links I was able to remove” is worse than being on the list of “these are the links I am unsure about & want to disavow just in case.”
What say you?