These days, as Google is striving to make it increasingly clear that back links are becoming more and more important for its algorithm, most webmasters are in a frenzy over potential past mistakes. Their panic is partially understandable, as Google hasn’t been exactly upfront throughout the ages about what constitutes a faux-pas in their book. So, in order to avoid being penalized or even completely removed from the SERPs, many website admins are bending over backwards, trying to do damage control. If you believe that you have identified bad links leading back to your website, here are some strategies for dealing with back links that you might want to consider.
If you can contact the website owner
Most often, removing harmful links is a matter of asking Google to disavow said links. However, there are also situations in which you personally know and are able to contact the webmaster of a site that contains a bad link back to your own. True, these situations aren’t that numerous, and they are also usually indicative of a rather major wrongdoing. Essentially, the scenarios in which you might decide to directly contact a webmaster are the following:
- You want to remove a paid link. Obviously, you can stop paying for the link to show up on that particular website and you can also contact the webmaster of that site and ask them to nofollow any and all previous links they might be showing on their site.
- You want to remove links from a content directory. Such situations can be either very simple to handle, or somewhat thorny. Most directories, be they for articles or for press releases, allow users to simply remove their content via the click of an on-page button. Yet, in this process, there are also sites that demand that the user pay a hefty amount of money – usually in the vicinity of $200. If you are asked to pay, in order to have your link removed, you need to carefully consider your budget, as well as the potential damage that may arise from not removing the link.
- You want to remove some form of spam. It’s not at all kosher, but, let’s face it: at some point or another, you simply paid for someone to post spam on behalf of your brand. It can be blog content, forum posts, comments, or all of the above. In these scenarios, try as you might to reach a human in charge with process, you will usually be faced with either asking for a disavow from Google, or paying to have the link removed.
If you ask for disavowal from Google
Submitting a disavowal reconsideration request to Google is a rather straightforward process. You need to submit a text-based disavow file regarding the link or links you want removed. Although not many people know this, Google also appreciates it when disavowal requests are accompanied by a spreadsheet of some sort, documenting attempts to contact webmasters for personal removal. Such a spreadsheet should contain as many details about the link and the website it is located on. Contact information is highly appreciated and any demands for financial compensation should also be mentioned in the request forwarded to Google. There are plenty of such sample spreadsheets available online and some of them can be used as templates for free. It’s also useful to know that Google doesn’t keep a track record of disavowal requests, so you can send in as many as you want – they will not be regarded negatively by Google. Each time you send in a new request, Google will evaluate the site from the very beginning.