Removing links – companies that charge you for the privilege

Posted on December 5, 2013

 

With some of the changes Google has been making of late, you could be forgiven for thinking SEO was dead altogether. This isn’t the case, of course – far from it. While the old style of promoting websites that some marketing firms alleged to be called ‘SEO’ (namely the act of buying or building low quality links to boost a website’s rankings) is dead, the real act of SEO is as much alive as it always has been.

There is, however, one new aspect to SEO that has come around as a direct result of Google’s changes and the unethical practises of some companies proclaiming to be ‘SEO experts’ – the practice of removing links.

Low quality links are a common cause of a website’s dip in the rankings, especially when Google has identified a website as using poor links and has applied a manual spam action (which can be seen through Google Webmaster Tools). This results in the seemingly counterproductive action of ‘removing links’ rather than attempting to acquire them.

Sadly, where there is demand there is supply and, just as in the case of companies charging for adding links, some websites now charge for the privilege of removing them. At Engage Web recently, while going through some particularly murky link-building waters, we came across a number of websites, all with related domain names and identical designs, charging website owners a premium to have links they contain removed.

So what are you to do? Do you pay up to have the links removed?

Just as Google is against the practice of paying for links, it stands to reason that the search engine would also frown on the practice of paying for links to be removed. After all, both practices involve the exchange of monies to manipulate the search results by altering linking patterns – which is against Google’s TOS (terms of service).

The solution

No, you don’t need to be held to ransom by unethical websites over the removal of links. Neither is there cause to invest in a ‘link removal’ budget, just as many unethical SEO companies would have had you plough money into a ‘link building’ budget in the first instance.  Instead, you are able to have these harmful links ‘disavowed’ by using Google’s Link Disavow tool. Be careful though, as this is a potentially dangerous tool to use and could seriously harm your website’s rankings if you use it incorrectly. With the tool, you have the power to tell Google to ignore all of your website’s links, which could be a very bad thing indeed. Only use this tool if you’re sure the links you want removing are harming your website’s rankings and, if they’re requesting money to remove the links, they probably are harming your website’s rankings.

If you’re unsure whether a link may be harmful to your website, or you want help disavowing links, don’t hesitate to contact Engage Web on 0345 621 4321.

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 20 years’ experience in these fields.
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