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This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38 ( [1] 2 > >     
Google penalty, link removal, and highway robbery

 5:27 pm on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

I noted in another thread that I have a defunct directory I bought many years ago. It's 40K pages of html. I never made a dime off the site directly (I bought it for other reasons and never accepted submissions).

Now I get link removal requests from people that have been penalized in Google for unnatural links. I used to do it for free, but got enough removal threats that I changed to charging $20 for removal. I could give a crap about $20, but I have to log into the server and hand edit the HTML, so, $20 it is.

I just got an email requesting a link removal. I respond with 'drop me $20', and I do it same day. His response? Tells me it's highway robbery and that I should be ashamed of myself.

Well, I am ashamed of myself, but not for that. My response? He should be ashamed of asking me to work for free. Then I provided a real example of highway robbery - told him the price was now $100 for removal. See? $100 for a link removal - now THAT's highway robbery.

Thanks Google! $100!



 9:52 pm on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

While I certainly understand why you are doing this, it is a sad state of affairs we've come to, isn't it? What was the reason you originally put the links on the page?


 10:28 pm on Dec 14, 2012 (gmt 0)

What was the reason you originally put the links on the page?

Wonder how long before someone decides to make it a business model- build a directory site with links to everyone, then charge to remove the links. Sort of like how you have to pay the phone company for an unlisted number.


 12:55 am on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've had a couple of link removal requests lately (only two) and I just groaned and did it.

The reason I added the links in the first place? They were exactly relevant to what my pages were about and I figured they'd be a useful resource of interest to my visitors.


 2:03 am on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

Heh, spam directories being set up to get removal fees...

BAD links should never impact a site imo, they should only be ignored and this is a good example why. In an idea internet content on someone elses site, links included, shouldn't play any role in deciding the value of your website.

Is a book at the library better or worse because of other books mentioning it? No. Neither are websites.


 2:12 am on Dec 15, 2012 (gmt 0)

The highway robbery is the peace of mind destroyed by Google's WMT warnings causing so many to 'fret' over every single link ... So many webmasters are so paranoid they don't just shrug and say thanks for the link ... I'll take 'em all, seriously, I'll build a site just for the links other people want removed and watch it rank like crazy, because a spam directory link is NOT unnatural these days, they're Absolutely a Natural thing that happens on the Internet now ... It's more unnatural and manipulative to try and get the link removed!

LMAO at the absolute paranoia created by Google's WMT warnings people don't really understand ... That's the real highway robbery.


 8:42 pm on Dec 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I saw an example of this link removal urgency in someones mind result in going overboard. His site had recently 'cleaned up'. He complained it still isn't ranking (he didn't disclose his search KW's).

I got curious and checked his backlinks in ahrefs; so funny it was over cleaned to the max. All that was left was directories and forum signature links. Also not present: authority sites, niche orgs, CofC, local portals or other niche related (huge and highly competitive niche) sites!

Totally absent was any scrapers, pron sites, article boards, press releases and other questionable stuff G has devalued recently. Too funny....


 10:11 am on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think this is a dangerous game to play if you want to keep your link directory.

Imagine that all these people who have asked for their link to be removed from your directly, file a disavow file with google about your site links. Soon google is going to see a pattern about your site and rather than you making 20 bucks a throw or whatever you manage to extort, google is going to wipe you from the planet.

Rightly or wrongly, Google has no hard and fast rules about anything. So one practice you engage in is just as likely as any other to fall foul of the mighty G.


 2:15 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I think this is a dangerous game to play if you want to keep your link directory.

I don't care about the site, I just have it hanging around. Someone else built the directory back in the day and made all the money off of submissions. I bought it (as the feeder for the DP network if you must know :) ) and never added any links or took any money. And the site's just sitting there, defunct. 40000 pages of static HTML and I'm not even kidding, I have to edit everything by hand and the page names are not intuitive.

And if it was a business model (which it's not), then a google penalty on the site would be fantastic. More people wanting to get delisted.

Realistically, the people asking for link removal are panicking. The site's not great, but it's not that bad either. The directory was actually quality back in the day, custom screenshot, well organized, good descriptions, custom layout. At worst I'd say it's a mediocre backlink. It's certainly not a complete spam link.


 3:28 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I also have several old directories which have been getting a handful of link removal requests. I have even had a few threatening demands to remove links or face legal consequences.

But most of the requests seem to be coming from small website owners who have heard something about being penalized for bad links and, to me, seem to be panicking. I charge them $5 and most people pay (some over multiple link directories). I personally think they are doing more damage than good to their websites.

5 Years ago the idea of removing links from a directory for a fee would have been ridiculous, people were just about begging (and paying) for links back then.


 8:25 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

I'm with Wheel.
I'm a busy man and I ain't got no time for these petty requests, especially if they didn't pay me to put them up.;)
And if they have attitude...

I am even trying to find a way to charge people for me to read their emails!


 9:49 pm on Dec 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good for you wheel can't blame you one bit. I got an email today with threats to turn us into Google for some off the wall report. Still shaking from that. BTW I didn't add the links so I don't remove them. I tell them to contact the person who created the account and have them do it.


 1:32 am on Dec 20, 2012 (gmt 0)

"Dear ___:

"I have received your request for {details}. I currently update the directory every {fixed time period, no more than a month}. Your site will be removed no later than {reasonable date like "next Tuesday" or "the third of the month"}. If the link is still there after that date, please do not hesitate to contact me again."


 2:01 pm on Dec 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

wheel, shame on you. i put such link sellers in disavow, hope they will get penalities


 2:37 pm on Dec 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

I don't mind helping out removing links. I don't charge but I will not respond to rude requests. I find it amazing that people will contact me and demand I remove links that they themselves added!


 4:16 pm on Dec 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

Here's the other side.

I recently contacted a link directory and asked that they remove one of my sites. It was a link to an old domain which I had redirected to a new domain name for rebranding purposes. They replied and said "Done!" and seemed really nice. But of course I checked to confirm, and voila - they had simply updated it to my new domain, which was even worse than if they'd just left it alone.

I explained this to them, and they demanded money for removal. AND they got really nasty and rude. I wasn't about to pay them.

Fortunately, I found a way to deal with it. I forbid them access to my site via htaccess. After a week of being "unable to reach my site", their script automatically removed me from the directory.

Wheel, you took over that site and the responsibility of it. If the TOS didn't state that there was a charge for removal when these people submitted their sites, what you're doing may not even be legal.


 5:38 pm on Dec 22, 2012 (gmt 0)

If this directory makes you no money then why would you keep it around at all..

And if you have it on a server why don't you use FTP instead of having to put yourself out logging into a server.

With sites now charging to remove links seems like an interesting business model..... make a big arse directory, make it as spammy as possible, now link all my competitors and whatever I want and then charge people to remove links.

If it were me and a site wanted to charge me for a removal, that site would be instantly put in my disavow list for google along with an explanation of them trying to charge for the removal.


 12:04 am on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

"Wheel, you took over that site and the responsibility of it. If the TOS didn't state that there was a charge for removal when these people submitted their sites, what you're doing may not even be legal."

Are you saying that it might be illegal to link out to a site if they don't want you to link out to them?


 1:59 am on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

No, he's saying that you can't apply a retroactive charge to something if you didn't say upfront that there would be a charge-- and there's no established use-and-custom that would lead a reasonable person to expect one. Not so sure about outright legality, though. Interesting court case, if you can get a judge and jury whose brains don't shut down when they encounter the internet.


 2:48 am on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Are you saying that it might be illegal to link out to a site if they don't want you to link out to them?

No Kidding! Seriously, people ... LMAO! I can link to anyone any time, any day and if you don't like it, tough sh*t.

If it were me and a site wanted to charge me for a removal, that site would be instantly put in my disavow list for google along with an explanation of them trying to charge for the removal.

Oh, no! Not that ... LOL ... It's so Amazing how far things have gone and how out-of-hand they're getting.

Wheel, you took over that site and the responsibility of it. If the TOS didn't state that there was a charge for removal when these people submitted their sites, what you're doing may not even be legal.

So, you can't increase the rate of something these days legally? It was free, now there's a fee ... I'm Sooo gonna sue the bike shop for changing the price of the bikes they're selling without telling me. They were one price one day according to their terms (posted price) and now there's a different price they're selling them for, but they didn't check with or tell me, so they're toast! LOL ... Actually, for some reason, I'm fairly certain you can change the fee you charge for something from $N to $NewN, even without permission from anyone else.

Wait until the next time the grocery store gives me a free sample and then stops ... Seriously, Look Out! And, if gas goes up, even a penny again, I'm all over it!

norton radstock

 6:04 am on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

How long before we see agencies offering to carry out link removal for you?

"Dear Sir/Madam,
First off, hearty thanks for reading this email that contains an interesting offer for your website. As I found, your website is not listed among the top ten organic search results on Google for the keyword “xxx.” You need to look at the issue of links to your site, which of course have a negative impact on it. We have more than five years experience of link removal and can offer you a complete, guaranteed and cost effective link removal service"


 1:45 pm on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

This link removal business adds another cost to what is already only a marginally profitable type of website in terms of effort versus returns. Like Wheel I have an old directory hanging around not doing very much, and the listings are useful if not comprehensive. I've had a couple of misguided link removal requests; there's nothing on the site that would make a human reader think it's FFA or unedited.

What Penguin encourages me to do is to link out less widely, and far less to people I don't know and I'm not likely to have dealings with (at conferences, through personal emails, by blogging about them, or whatever). That applies to all kinds of websites, not just directories. I can't be doing with strangers contacting me and saying, effectively, my site isn't good enough to link out to them.

It takes time to deal with removal requests, whether or not you take down the link.


 3:25 pm on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Actually, I was assuming the directory was paid before wheel bought it. If not, then part of what I said doesn't apply. But if those submissions were bought, then the original owner initiated a commercial transaction, and laws apply to anyone taking over that site.

Like this: I buy a product from you with the understanding I have 5 years to return it if I'm not satisfied. I come back 4 years later, and a new owner says he changed your terms a couple of years ago and now I can't have my refund. You can't retroactively change terms *after* you initiated a commercial relationship.

If the directory, however, was not paid, then the person asking wheel for removal is initiating the commercial transaction, and wheel is simply negotiating a deal (and therefore has far more leeway in terms of law).

Additionally, it's worth noting that you can't legally charge someone more for a service because they've annoyed you. Again, if the submissions weren't bought, then wheel isn't dealing with an ongoing transaction/commercial relationship but bargaining, so this practice would be okay. But if the submissions were bought, wheel needs to know what TOS people bought the links under.


 8:17 pm on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Unless previous owner was a prophet of some kind, link removal was not considered in the original TOS.


 9:12 pm on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

wheel, I think it just shows how stupid this whole thing has become. I wouldn't pay for link to be removed as you can now disavow it anyway,

The more I think about it the more I think the days of the link is dead and a search engine based on link popularity along with it.


 10:21 pm on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

@ diberry:

"Actually, I was assuming the directory was paid before wheel bought it."

that's a reasonable assumption, although I was assuming the opposite - that it was just linking out without charging for listing.

but yeah, if there was an original TOS saying there was a one-time fee which entitled them to update / delete their listings, that might be a problem.

Will have to wait to hear back from wheel about this...


 10:27 pm on Dec 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

The sad thing about this is Google is smart enough to simply ignore those links in those types of sites yet they choose not to and instead try to get people to jump up and down and follow their every command.

This is why I'm so glad I no longer give a flip about Google or what they do.

If they don't like my sites, it's their loss not mine.

Not to mention they turned a supporter into an active hater who tells anybody and everybody that switching to another search engine and dropping all Google services is the smartest thing they can do.

I don't use anything Google provides and do not ever having any intention of doing so.

Believe it or not you can have a thriving business without Google having to be a part of it.


 10:26 am on Jan 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

I got this today:

Dear Site Owner - It has recently come to our attention that our website [snipped] has received a Google Unnatural Backlink penalty. Unfortunately we hired an SEO firm that had built backlinks which violated Google's TOS. We are now in the process of cleaning up all backlinks that Google has marked as "unnatural" and those links that our previous SEO company likely built. Unfortunately your website was one of those sites that Google marked as "unnatural". Therefore we are reaching out in an attempt for you to remove all links pointed to our website [snipped link] You can find our links on the following pages on your website:

[snipped links]

We recommend taking immediate action and removing our links from your website. We'll shortly be filling a reconsideration request with Google. We have been told that those websites that don't remove links to our site could be in jeopardy of a Google penalty upon the manual review of our website. Which is why we are reaching out to you about a week or so before we file such a reconsideration request. Thanks again and sorry for any inconvenience!

What a load of rubbish - trying to scare me into removing links that they should just ask nicely for me to remove. It's crap like this that makes me not want to help these people! I don't respond well to this sort of b*llocks!


 1:12 pm on Jan 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

No wonder people are charging to remove links these days ... A couple e-mails like that and my published price would be the same as wheels $100 fee, easily.


 1:26 pm on Jan 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately your website was one of those sites that Google marked as "unnatural".

Like Google's ever gonna do that.

This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38 ( [1] 2 > >
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