Want Me To Remove That Link? Pay Me $500!

Jul 20, 2012 • 8:15 am | comments (42) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

extortionA Google Webmaster Help thread has a webmaster claiming (and he is 100% correct) that in order for him to get some of the sites linking to him to remove the link, the site owner is requiring him to pay between $20 and $500 to remove the link.

The site owners are calling these "link removal processing fees."

Now, this is not hiring a third-party company to remove links for you (i.e. link removal companies). This is paying the site that has links to you, to remove those links. Some of them you paid or someone else paid to link to you years ago and now to remove the link, they want money as well.

He wrote:

How have you been handling requests for processing fees in response to your link removal requests?

Some webmasters are now requesting processing fees from $20 to $500 to remove links from their web sites.

I don't like paying those fees, as I did not ask them to place the links in the first place. On the other hand, they see it as a reasonable fee for the time and effort required to remove links. Nobody likes to work for free.

The web site I am currently working on has over half a million inbound links and the link removal processing fees are starting to add up to quite considerable numbers.

Again, this is legit. One webmaster sent me an example which is public and I will post on Search Engine Land in about an hour.

Is this ethical? Should you pay someone to remove a link to your site? They claim it takes them time but yet the link is hurting you. I guess you can always sue them?

The other option is to 404 the target page, which is extreme or wait it out for the disavow link tool from Google.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Image credit to ShutterStock for tied up mannequin

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07/20/2012 12:24 pm

So... create a dodgy domain, add the links yourself and threaten webmasters with $500 removal fees when they ask. Is that the sort of model Google want to see popping up?

Praveen Sharma

07/20/2012 12:28 pm

Now this is a problem. One doesn't want to work for free, other one can't afford to pay. What to do?

Praveen Sharma

07/20/2012 12:36 pm

Now this is a problem. One doesn't want to work for free, other one can't afford to pay.


07/20/2012 01:31 pm

It's ethical enough. I wouldn't want to get bugged every 5 minutes to remove a link every time. Might as well capitalize on it and charge for it. But it all depends though. If I owned a blog with multiple bloggers, then the above would apply. But if I intentionally added the links myself with malicious intent, then it would be a different story. It would then be unethical to charge processing fees indeed.


07/20/2012 02:08 pm

I had someone who obviously shared his links to our website using scrapebox or some other black hat, but then he had the guts to ask to have his link removed. I simply responded, "So all your blackhat activities are finally working against you? Well good luck, but maybe you get an automated link removal program to help you out as well." Moral of the story, you post using an automated program, that's your fault.


07/20/2012 02:52 pm

even the semi legit "link removal" companies are raping the site owners - they want a couple thousand dollars to request link removals, some with negotiate down to $10 a link that they actually get removed - when you have a couple hundred of those nasties (that you never had anything to do with asking for) it adds up - thank you Goog for creating a whole new scam industry even worse than link spamming which you could have dealt with by just ignoring the link. This is a bad direction for business on the web - we need more competition in the search arena.


07/20/2012 03:36 pm

I have not seen that happen yet, although plausible. Most of the time though it is legitimate webmasters who don't have the time to remove hundreds of links for free. I think it is completely acceptable.


07/20/2012 03:37 pm

There are now several tools available that help cut costs dramatically - my company's (removeem.com), rMoov.com, and seogadget.co.uk all offer help for webmasters needing to remove links for a lot less than a couple K


07/20/2012 03:38 pm

You should be careful - many of the webmasters genuinely had no clue what was being done in their name. Some may have even been victims of negative SEO. If I were you, I would use it as an opportunity to make some $$. That way you benefit from the pain you have dealt with in past.


07/20/2012 03:43 pm

This isn't extortion unless it can be proved the link is harming their website AND thus their business. Google won't say either way, thus it cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt. thus they can do this and there is no recourse for webmasters. Thanks again Google. Arrogant moralists (read: like google) have no grasp of what they do on their mission to make a better world.


07/20/2012 03:43 pm

You're right. I guess I'll take the upper hand in a sense, but it's a great way to make money off of spammers attempts, especially when they are dumb spammers.

Terry Van Horne

07/20/2012 04:55 pm

based on what I've seen from their prospect lists most of these companies are screwing with people and not really making good assesments of bad links. They are making the same "kinds of assumptions" as the idots who originally got the links... have not looked at the SEOgadget tool but have looked at the others...having fixed some penalized sites and looked at many more penalized sites...convinced many assumptions about removing links are quite possibly VERY misguided.

Codex Meridian

07/20/2012 05:15 pm

Why ask here? Ask Google, this is their fault! Now this is the problem, will Google really care?


07/20/2012 06:04 pm

Didn't know, or didn't care? The people who have contacted me requesting link removal seem to fall into that second category, because had they exercised even slight due diligence they would have found that their "link builder/SEO" either was, or was outsourcing to, semi-literate overseas spammers. Business owners have a responsibility to exercise due diligence - not to protect others, but to protect themselves. I have put a lot of resources into spam control and removal over the years, in no small part because of companies that didn't care that they were paying people to spam my sites. I have not charged any companies for link removal, but in every case in which I've been contacted it has been for spam that fell through the cracks, posted by one of their agents. It's hard to feel sorry for them.

James T.

07/20/2012 06:33 pm

Google will take action against these type of websites that are asking for an extortion fee. I've documented thoroughly when going through a reinculsion request, as well as posted in Google's own webmaster forum thread. Sure enough, around two weeks later the sites that tried to extort cash for link removal all had their PR stripped entirely. The directories are now completely N/A and no longer indexed in Google. Document these cases, and submit them to Google.

Praveen Sharma

07/20/2012 07:10 pm

I am not asking Codex, even I am concerned that, is Google helping its users or making their life more miserable?

Gary Lee

07/20/2012 08:04 pm

GOOD GOOD GOOD, I welcome this Behavior, hell I encourage it! WHY? the ridiculous messages from google for unnatural links penalty is impossible to manage and possibly border line illegal. We have little to no control on links coming to our business and more cases like this just prove it! Bring it on I say, it will be impossible soon for Google to justify this type of penalty. ------- Stop Google NOW, install adblock plus!!


07/20/2012 08:06 pm

Google has created a nice little conundrum haven't they? Instead of paying the $20/link ransom fee to have them removed, I would just spend the $20 on cheap little $5 Xrumer blasts against the guy holding it hostage. aka... OK, Keep my links, and here's a few thousand pointed to you! Viscous circle of doubt, right?

Sourabh Rana

07/21/2012 05:33 am

I also faced this same situation, We removed our some of our backlinks from one tech nology site which is not relavant. He changed the links but after ADMIN of site mailed us that he will charge 50$ for these link removal services. Believe me first expression of ours was we smiled on this mail but after when we think that he is not saying any wrong thing because he is charging for his services & labour what he devoted for us. We simply thanked him for his services and refused to give payment in very polite manner that he will dont mind. and today I am reading this same thing is really shocked me to see this new trend in INTERNET Industry . :)


07/21/2012 09:39 am

We run a link auditing service called the link auditors www.linkaudit.co.uk and have a free CMS to manage the link removal process which anyone can use, we actively see companies asking for payments to remove links and welcome this practice as long as it is reasonable , like 10 bucks or so, I'm glade that these companies have woken up to the operrtunity and are offing the service, instead of hiding behind Whois proxies and no contact forms , believe me it takes a lot longer to research sites who have no contact details, often we are left only with the hosting companies and registrys who may have contact details, who we then try to get to help initiate contact. That's the worst case scenario so a quick payment for fast action is welcome. The clients are normally realistic and happy to pay for peoples time too.

Per Pettersson

07/21/2012 12:20 pm

Oh, this is scary. What ever happened to plain old "Do good shit, get paid" thinking?


07/21/2012 05:14 pm

This is pure insanity...and a new breed of blackmail is born, please Google hurry up with that disavow tool to end all this craziness

Kenneth von Rauch

07/21/2012 06:24 pm

It sounds like a really stupid thing but what can you actually do if the site owner won't remove it if you don't pay? Perhaps, just build more quality links, though I'm not exactly sure that it'll overcome the low-quality ones. Especially if there's a whole lot of them .


07/21/2012 06:51 pm

if Google wants to stop this they should introduce Disavow links, and this type of extortion will be useless...

Webstats Art

07/22/2012 04:24 pm

Most people don't get involved in lawsuits unless they have teams of lawyers e.g. Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Oracle, Microsoft, Samsung etc etc etc... How are the common man and the small business owners going to come up with the dough? They are the ones who suffer the most. They don't have the time and the money to protect themselves and their business is day by day and month by month. A serious drop in sales for a small company can crush it if they do not have an incredibly strong financial backbone. There are so many stories about the "small man" being ripped off and cheated on the net. So what if someone can solve the problem later - later means "after the fact" i.e. too late... and too late means your business has gone to the dogs!!


07/22/2012 09:59 pm

In my experience, the spam sites have no contact information available. It's - all - nuts.


07/23/2012 02:47 am

Interesting I know some guys with very old porn domains. Might be a good way for them to turn those dead domains into real dollars!!! (Ok I wouldn't really suggest this to them, but I am sure there are plenty out there who would)


07/23/2012 03:09 am

Google loves this more and more people will be heading into adwords. Another revenue blip on the way! Everything Google has done in the last 6 months has just been a blatant grab for cash they no longer care about user experience at all. It is now just an exercise in driving as many advertisers into adwords as possible. Funny thing is Matt cutts still believes that the move away from "host crowding" improved the user experience. When really it was a strategy to move advertisers towards adwords. Think about it if one site dominates a keyword then yeah that site won't use adwords but all the other sites that no longer rank will. Google is now probably one of the most evil companies on the planet.


07/23/2012 02:21 pm

He should do a redirect or block that site. Bam just like that issues solved!!!


07/23/2012 02:41 pm

That's ridiculous - There's no reason not to charge a nominal fee for the effort, and the couple of times I've asked for a removal I've OFFERED a few bucks for their time - in one case it was the same amount the client paid (not through us!) for the link to get placed in the first place. When asking for a removal, you can't seriously expect it to be done for free, can you?


07/24/2012 05:44 am

Barry, Do you charge for your time? Like most web professionals, I'm guessing you do. Removing links takes time. That is a cost. It is fair that those who want links removed pay a processing cost. The exception might be if they didn't request the link in the first place. The legal route would result in much higher costs and would likely have little chance of success. Imagine trying to prove damage? It's highly likely a webmaster may have costs awarded against him/her for vexatious litigation.

Joey De Tomaso

07/24/2012 07:25 am

Thats BS. Some company hires some unethical SEO to spam my website with links to thier site, why shouldnt they be charged for my time to search for and remove their links?


07/24/2012 05:40 pm

"Extortion" was the first word that came to my mind when I began reading this.


07/24/2012 08:22 pm

I'm the owner of a small directory that's been online for about 10 years and still has PageRank. I have received a few removal requests and at one point briefly considered charging a nominal fee to remove links, but i decided against it. Ultimately I decided that if a site is on Google's naughty radar and has been building a bunch of bad links, then I don't mind if it is no longer in my directory. Perhaps it will mean a minute increase in the quality of the directory. Although I personally won't do it, I can understand asking for a small fee since it does take a little time to remove a link. But hundreds of dollars? That's insane. I've also on a couple of occasions that appeared suspicious asked that the request be verified by using an email from the domain in question. I never heard back on those and have to wonder if the link removal request was sent by an unscrupulous competitor.


07/25/2012 07:04 am

Link removal request act as an effective step which definitely reduce the effects of low quality and give rise to post natural links to the website as majority of the webmasters from my side would not agree to pay extra cost for that service.

Effective Site

08/03/2012 07:38 pm

These sites where links are removed are normally junk so the webmasters time likely isn't worth that much... $500 is extortion, $5-20 is reasonable

Sha Menz

08/19/2012 02:50 am

Hmmm...from your comment I would say perhaps you haven't actually used rmoov.com, since we make absolutely no "assumptions" about removing links. The tool simply offers a way to manage the link removal request process and reporting. rmoov does not analyze links, or offer advice on whether they should be removed.

Sha Menz

08/19/2012 02:51 am

Thanks for the mention Russ :) Was sorry not to catch up with you at Mozcon. Would have been nice to have a chat -Sha


08/21/2012 10:35 am

Yeah, because removing your link takes all day doesn't it? Paying for this kind of thing is stupid in my opinion, but if you want to throw your money away then go ahead.


09/01/2012 02:37 pm

Many backlinks were wanted by the sites which used article marketing to generate links. Now they want them removed... It's a mess of google proportions!


09/30/2013 07:16 am

Sure, you run a link audit site, but you end up sending DMCA requests to IP space owners instead of a) contacting the site owners themselves, b) sending a link removal request, NOT a DMCA request. You also ignore responses from data centre operators and hosting providers when we tell you this.

Christie O. Mountainside Bride

12/19/2013 12:55 pm

I'm dealing with this issue as a webmaster. I have sold a number of sponsors posts that I wrote myself and complied with FCC regulations. I included links with the anchor text the customer asked for. Now they are asking that the links be removed because THEY tried to game the system. At first I just removed them, now I'm thinking of charging a $20 fee for the time and energy it takes to not only remove the link but also the administration of back-and-forth-emails. My site is a legitimate blog and I work hard to produce relevant content. The sponsored posts in question were screened for relevancy to my readers. Is it really extortion or "blackmail" to ask for $20? My normal hourly consulting fee is $150, so it seems in line with my business model.

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