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What do link removal services actually do?

1:04 am on Aug 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I recently discovered that there are about 200 spammy links leading to my site. They have keyword anchor text and are mostly found in unmoderated comment sections and in the "blogrolls" of awful, no-traffic sites. I am perplexed by this becaause I had nothing to do with creating these links--have never bought links, paid for SEO, or done anything but try to make a great site--but that's another matter entirely, and beside the point here.

Let me clear that I do not plan to pay for link removal services. I'm going to go through the 200 links myself, contact the contactable ones and request removal, disavow the uncontactable ones, and disavow the contactable ones that don't heed my removal request in a week or so.

The thing is that I have no idea what anyone could do beyond what I have just outlined. Meanwhile, I am aware that there are link removal services (usually under the umbrella of SEO) that charge a pretty penny for this stuff. So, am I missing something? Do they do something I'm not aware of? What do they actually do?
7:26 am on Aug 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Judging by some of the emails I received, I think the services pretty much as what you are doing. They might even use a script that does the whole process automatically.
7:55 am on Aug 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I guess the appeal of link removal services is for people who simply do not have the time to go through the process you've just outlined. Or for sites with many more spammy links than 200.
8:29 am on Aug 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Some are also probably more experienced at this than the average webmaster.

Also, 2,000 links is not very many. The best services have thought through how to handle huge amounts of data in a prioritized fashion.
10:03 am on Aug 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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Link removal services are using automated tools to send out emails that are formatted so poorly that they often look like or are nothing more than spam. Working under the cover of a legitimate service, they are also requesting removal of links from sites they have no affiliation with - other than someone paying them to remove the links (likely a competitor).

I've seen some fishy link removal requests and followed up on some. By fishy I mean if xyz.com wants their links removed and the request came from a hotmail.com address. Low and behold the owner of xyz.com does not want their link removed, but someone else is sure trying to get it done for them anyway.

I'm sure there are some professionals out there, but the vast majority of these services exist solely to make money any way they can - by either removing bad links or good links from sites that compete with their clients.
7:20 pm on Aug 9, 2013 (gmt 0)

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I would be VERY careful of using any automated link removal tool or service.

I have tried out some link diagnostic tools and noticed that there were many false positives and there were numerous missed links.
12:25 pm on Aug 10, 2013 (gmt 0)

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The main value-add genuine link removal services provide IMO is in the ability to decide which links to remove and which ones to keep. There are many greenhorns, self-convinced they are that they know all there is to know, remove perfectly good links and damage the site than doing any good.