Link Removal Fees Feel Like Ransom Deal

Apr 30, 2013 • 8:59 am | comments (56) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

suitcase of moneyAs you know, I have not been a fan of link removal fees, even from link directories.

I spotted this WebmasterWorld thread where a webmaster said he simply cannot afford them all. He added up the fees to remove the links he feels is hurting his web site from ranking well in Google and they added up to $12,210.

Some only wanted $20 but some wanted as much as $500 to remove a link.

This webmaster cannot afford to spend $12,000 on link removals and is looking for a way out.

The easiest way out is the Google Disavow Tool. This tool is exactly for situations where you cannot remove a link from a third-party site. Either no one responds to you, they refuse to remove it or you cannot afford to remove it. So use the disavow tool.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for suitcase of money

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Martin Oxby

04/30/2013 01:13 pm

That's just abhorrent. It's an anathema, it just shouldn't happen. How can anyone justify $500 to do a 5 minute job - I run websites I know it's a quick job. And they should just do it - $20 I could possibly understand re: staff time, but I still think they shouldn't charge. Glad for the disavow tool, but you still have to convince Google you've done all you can in your power and that's not always easy.


04/30/2013 01:22 pm

Disavowing links should be a job for Google (as it also was in the past) - not for us users. How can a human be able to monitor millions of links which may change daily? And the be held of charge for them? Like a shopkeeper could be responsible when someone is stealing in his shop. It's just ridiculous in my opinion.

Mike Kalil

04/30/2013 01:22 pm

The solution is to just discount spammy links rather than forcing site owners to get them removed.


04/30/2013 01:22 pm

Martin, the fact that people are charging to remove links is shocking i completely agree and paying those fees will only make it so that they are breaking the guidelines anyway surely... I mean not much difference between paying for links and charging to remove them? What i will say though is that is you are using the disavow tool to instruct Google to ignore any equity pass on these links, you don't have to convince Google of anything? Unless you have been manually penalised, the use of the disavow tool shouldn't be used alongside a reconsideration request? So you have no case to answer. We have already seen a video that explains that the disavow list is completely automated, so no manual intervention can be added to the process, so not being manually penalised and then asking for reconsideration would be little more than a waste of time. My view is that unless you or someone that you have authorised has placed the link into your site, there are no grounds for you to ask for the link to be removed unless it is causing issues to the brand business or reputation on a large scale... Natural links should be placed through the disavow and allowed to be considered to act as a no follow.


04/30/2013 01:24 pm

Your site, your reward.. Your concern. What you are suggesting here would mean that you could build millions of links into your site through whatever method you could and then you expect Google to clean out the dirty ones for you? Where is your accountability in that?

Jawad Latif

04/30/2013 01:30 pm

He should start getting rid of links via Google Disavow Tool gradually. Doing at once might be harmful.

Anthony Shapley

04/30/2013 01:33 pm

What Alex says is true, however I don't agree with you Martin - If you owned say 100 websites and people had paid for permenant placements on them, I don't suppose you would *really* want to spend several hours going back through them all pulling links down for free. We're all trying to make a living. The problem is, in a lot of instances the links people are trying to pull down are in huge networks, where the network owner is getting multiple big requests per-day. Its not viable for them to do it for free. As they'd be removing links all day long. Just for clarity, I don't sell links, I have been in the same boat as this guy is mentioned above, or similiar - but I do understand people need to make money and its wrong for everyone to expect them to sit making edits for free. The guy mentioned above made the risky choices to buy links and is now paying the price for it. The most important point I'd like to make on this particular topic is that Google themselves have said do not pay for link removals, just add them to a disavow and document it.


04/30/2013 01:45 pm

Supply and demand. The same reasons AK47's sold for $300 bucks 6 months ago and now spike up to $1300. Sure, it's WRONG, do I blame them? No, it's a horrible economy and they need money. But I could not live with myself morally. Very interesting debate. I think (agreed with @Timotheus ) that Google should enforce more control over this.


04/30/2013 01:55 pm

This is not a solution. Who will pay for the resources Search engine must spend to collect and sort billions of meaningless links ?


04/30/2013 02:05 pm

" I run websites I know it's a quick job " Don't you think, that your website is just very small and very simple ? On big websites every cell in every table of every database matters. Everything is counted and correlated.

Emma North

04/30/2013 02:46 pm

It's definitely not worth paying to remove a link in my opinion. If you are being asked to pay to do so, it is unlikely to be a natural link and should be disavowed. Usually the rate of links actually removed is very low (you're lucky if 1-2% of the people you contact actually remove the links). The disavow tool is the solution.

Martin Oxby

04/30/2013 03:06 pm

Completely agree - and to be honest people shouldn't have paid for links, but for ages there has been a huge grey area between 'paid links' and 'advertising' which most people haven't understood.

Martin Oxby

04/30/2013 03:14 pm

Oh hello Anti-SEO :-) Yes my website IS small and simple. But if you run, say a paid directory (which many paid links look like) it's still managable by logging into the database and deleting the relevant rows. In all this, I think websites shouldn't pay for links, but many people are not informed about that so would effectively see being charged twice over as unaffordable. So clients are not always innocent. But on the flip side neither are paid-link-sites are either... I guess the cost has to appear somewhere.

Martin Oxby

04/30/2013 03:17 pm

I think the issue is that your links are never 100% in your control, so to be held 100% accountable for them is not necessarily helpful. It's how you balance that against general malpractice that's hard to work out who should be enforcing what.


04/30/2013 03:38 pm

define "gradually" please and explain why doing it at once might be harmful. Any numbers to prove?

Nathan Grimm

04/30/2013 03:57 pm

Maybe the ones who use links as a key signal in an algorithm that ultimately makes themselves billions of dollars per year and created the incentive to create billions of meaningless links should pay for it.

Nathan Grimm

04/30/2013 04:00 pm

People ask for money for everything. Don't pay or put a cap on how much you'll spend per link. I'm pretty sure most webmasters who respond will remove for zero to twenty dollars. You can use the disavow tool for the rest.

Nathan Grimm

04/30/2013 04:02 pm

Spikes in activity are often organic and natural. If you spread out an activity over time that doesn't need to be spread out, all you're doing is removing your ability to measure the effects of your actions.


04/30/2013 04:15 pm

That is such a ridiculous, grasping-at-straws, statement. You can't divorce those who violated the guidelines from responsibility and I for one am glad to see spammers charged to have their garbage cleaned up. Nobody seemed to mind paying to be included in directories even though it was clearly against the guidelines to do so. As long as it worked to improve their sites performance in the SERPs they were happy to pay. Now it is time to pay to improve their performance again, but since it is a clean up there is this mindset of 'how dare you charge me'.


04/30/2013 04:25 pm

Key signal in algorithm suppose to be an organic link, placed by by person with honest intentions. SE do pay for the resources to collect and sort such links. Those who want to trick algo by seeding links, must pay by themselves. SE is not a charity organisation.

Liam Fisher

04/30/2013 04:27 pm

This was a problem, a huge problem in fact, when the whole 'negative SEO' scare was going on and getting links removed. Why wouldn't webmasters ask for money when everyone's so ready to pay up? Now we have a thing called disavow. Webmaster not removing links? Add it to your disavow list and go about your business. I can't imagine why anyone would be paying to remove links now that disavowing is an option.


04/30/2013 04:28 pm

Agree with the fact that you can't be 100% responsible for the backlinks that are pointed into your profile but how is that Google's issue? If you can't be bothered to keep house of your profile into your money site, what makes you think that they would be bothered either? No one is in the search engine results by right to be there, you have to work and maintain...


04/30/2013 04:31 pm

Hi ) I just wanted to say, that it's not always a quick job. Regarding everything else - you know my point of view, I know yours )

Martin Oxby

04/30/2013 04:33 pm

I suppose it's only Google's issue insofar as to preserve the quality of their results, which people rely on... but that's where Panda and Penguin come in, but the points you raise are valid nonetheless.

Martin Oxby

04/30/2013 04:34 pm

Just to say yes I realise it's not a quick job whoever does the cleanup.

Mike Kalil

04/30/2013 04:46 pm

Please. Google wouldn't be anywhere without the site owners. They're not performing some charity for us all. At the end of the day, we're the ones making them billions - not the other way around. Since they know full well which links are spam (since the punish for having them), it can't be any more difficult to just make those links not count for anything. It might be immoral to you to buy links, but put yourself in the head of a small business owner who doesn't know anything about the Internet and who hires someone to do the work for them. He hasn't read Google's guidelines; he doesn't even know they exist. Should we really be putting people out of business for what links to their site?


04/30/2013 05:36 pm

We can't put anyone anywhere anyway ) The market can and will. "a small business owner who doesn't know anything about the Internet" should stay away from the business she/he isn't familiar with. Otherwise take all of the responsibility. Same as in any other business. "we're the ones making them billions" Then go to the court and take your share ) What's the problem ?


04/30/2013 06:09 pm

Deleting your bad links will not magically bring back your great ranking. Paying webmasters to do so will just push negative seo ahead. Imagine the scenario: you agree to pay $20,00 per link, then your name appear on a "prospect-list" of website owners accepting to pay for link removal. Paying will just start a nightmare, unscrupulous webmaster will start spamming their "affiliates" with your link, waiting for you to spend more money on link removal.

Sha Menz

04/30/2013 07:13 pm

Hi Martin & Anti-SEO, Actually, the game has changed in terms of how easily link removals can be handled by the webmaster receiving requests to remove. We were very pleased to release a Webmaster interface for our link removal outreach tool rmoov at ionSearch in Leeds a week or so ago. Webmasters who receive link removal requests are now able to manage, or completely eliminate email and collect link removal requests straight out of their rmoov account. We also added an API so that people with dynamically driven sites now have the option to write a custom solution and completely automate the job of removing links. More info at rmoov dot com /rmoov-letter-to-webmasters.php and we made the API level free til July 1st. Whether your site is small & simple or large and complex, it can work for you. :) It's time to move past the pain and frustration at both ends of the scale and let everyone get on with business!


04/30/2013 07:18 pm

Google gave a boost to paid Yahoo directory links....... not so long ago.


04/30/2013 07:27 pm

So, google wants to hold you 100% responsible for the links pointing to your site but plays the 5th amendment when challenged about child porn links on his site. I think google should practice what it preaches!!!! I think google should be made accountable for linking out to filth like pirate software websites are held accountable for linking to pirate software (piratebay). Brin & Page should be hauled before the courts for linking out to all these depraved websites.


04/30/2013 07:36 pm

"child porn links on his site" Prove please.


04/30/2013 07:39 pm

Or better go straight to the nearest police office if you have one.

Mike Kalil

04/30/2013 07:46 pm

Then every business owner should be an expert in the Internet, by that logic.


04/30/2013 08:02 pm

I will let you do the search for such websites. They are there along with all the other illegal shit that Google is happy to pedal via it´s links. If Governments are not interested in fighting with google, my local police station surely arn´t. The point though is that google links out to a whole load of seriosly illegal crap and it is he who has that responsibility. Who is holding them to account for that though? Nobody is the answer because google have become far too powerful. These anti-trust cases are just to keep the other big businesses happy. The fines if they get any will be peanuts for them.


04/30/2013 08:37 pm

You MUST report the illegal activity you know about. Otherwise you commit the crime. You words worth nothing, if you're involved in illegal activity by yourself.


04/30/2013 08:50 pm

Yes, if the business owner want to run internet business by her/himself. Or buy service from the appropriate companies. If the service bought was poor, then act accordingly. Same rules apply, as with any other business. Nothing new. Internet business is different business. It doesn't mean you can run online store, if you run brick and mortar store. These are two different businesses !

Frank Scharnell

04/30/2013 09:22 pm

Barry, I'm really glad this topic is being talked about. This is a big obstacle for SEOs that are acquiring clients who are looking to recover from their penalties. I have seen this on several occasions and it is really sickening to think of the people that are literally holding in some cases the lively hood of a business at ransom. Though it would be best for companies and websites to avoid getting any of these penalties from poor link aquisition.

Vic Holtreman

04/30/2013 09:36 pm

Wow, I've had a couple of requests and it never even occurred to me to charge for removal!

Nathan Grimm

05/01/2013 12:16 am

Your question was: who will pay to sort good/bad links, my answer was: the search engines. Your response: the search engines pay to sort links. Glad we agree.

Nathan Grimm

05/01/2013 12:18 am

I'm not removing responsibility from spammers. Anti-SEO was asking who will pay to sort god and bad links? My answer: the search engines. Links as a ranking signal are valuable to Search Engines. They have the largest incentive to protect the ecosystem.


05/01/2013 01:22 am

You must be more attentive ) It's written : "... sort SUCH links ..."

Jawad Latif

05/01/2013 10:12 am

i don't agree with you at all. In SEO, spikes in activity are never natural. If you build hundred of links in short period of time then how you can say that they are looking natural???

Jawad Latif

05/01/2013 10:17 am

Gradually means not doing it at once. Few weeks ago, i noticed that tags are indexed (talking about one of my blog), i set 'noindex' for tags. Due to this action, hundreds of indexed pages were removed from Google and i observed sudden fall in my Search impressions, clicks; even domain authority also decreased.

Marie Haynes

05/01/2013 01:57 pm

Some people are saying that webmasters should just ignore requests for money and simply disavow those links. However, if you've got a penalty you really have to manually remove as many links as possible. I've done a lot of reconsideration request jobs and I find the occasional site owner that asks between $2 and $10 for link to remove. I think that's fair as it does take some of the site owner's time. I've yet to see someone ask for an extortionate amount. If that did happen I'd likely just make a note in my reconsideration request spreadsheet that the site owner asked for $xxx and then disavow that link. What I hate is that I am pretty sure that there are sites that scrape dmoz and then create a spammy directory just so that people can contact them for link removal and then they can charge money.

Jon Hogg

05/01/2013 06:35 pm

If you have something actually good people are linking too...

Jon Hogg

05/01/2013 06:37 pm

Well yes, because there were fewer pages to get impressions or clicks?!

Faisal Kaleem

05/02/2013 01:21 am

@Marie Haynes, please suggest what need to done once we stat link removal then they want to change against it maximum are directories as you mentioned below

ari martino

05/02/2013 01:30 am

Hi, Right Now i am testing a Strategy for Traffic Generation.."

Soni Sharma

05/02/2013 05:16 am

$ 2 to $10 is fine but asking $500 is really like ransom.


05/02/2013 09:25 am

What I´ve learned in the passed 1 year is, no matter how much you love your website, if you were hit by the penguin, forget the site and start a new one. I tried 8 months to get out of the penguin. Without any success. Then, 5 months before, I started a new site in same niche and getting traffic now :)

Gary Lee

05/04/2013 03:58 pm

The real question is who are you funding by paying those fees, my bank stopped one payment because it was to Iran and there are sanctions on them. I think Google is making a huge mistake by not being more clear about this process.

Sha Menz

05/05/2013 04:57 pm

"The problem is, in a lot of instances the links people are trying to pull down are in huge networks, where the network owner is getting multiple big requests per-day. Its not viable for them to do it for free. As they'd be removing links all day long." This is exactly the reason we decided it was time to give those network owners a way to completely automate the link removal process by accessing link removal requests through our API. If people are using Wordpress, we already provide a plugin to remove comment Spam with a single click. Those using custom built systems, directory scripts etc can write their own solution to have their site process the removals for them. A small amount of time invested in writing a custom script should be reasonable to significantly reduce incoming email and free up resources. We've also made it easy for people to encourage non-users of rmoov to push requests into the API, by offering a free rmoov account that allows requests for removal of 250 URLs at a time...for as long as they want to use it. Really, it's way past time for lamenting the situation. Let's get on with fixing it.

Frederick Gimino

05/13/2013 12:21 am

Equate Google with Louis the XVI and see the resemblance. Tyranny=Tyranny. Why penalize knowing it opens the door to link extortion negative SEO campaigns, and other nefarious practices? Because they rule the internet (~80%). So, you either pay your tithe to Pontius Google or face the consequences. What ever happened to do no evil? I vote for Samuru, Blekko, and DuckDuckgo to replace them as the King of Search. But, this is not a democracy with Google is it? Your only recourse without a vote is a demagogue "product forum" for complaints to be vented, poked fun at, and summarily dismissed. Good luck with link removal as I firmly believe it will not matter in the end. Google will do what is best for Google without regard for anyone else. Barring an all out webmaster revolt this is the way it will be into the next decade IMO. GLA.

Chris Loser

05/13/2013 09:22 am

Is it that easy? It should be... But why do places warn against using the Disavow tool (without trying to clean up the links first)? Have you had success with disavow?

Ovidiu Burduja

09/17/2013 08:52 pm

Other than the link detox feature from Cemper's tools, what other tools do you use to spot toxic backlinks?

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