• http://twitter.com/liamhgfisher Liam Fisher

    I really wouldn’t want to get involved in paying people to remove poisonous links. Doing so sets a dangerous precedent and there’s absolutely nothing to stop someone coming back time and time again, threatening to point more links at you unless you keeping paying.

    I would also be very wary of anyone promising to ‘check’ their sites to see if they’re linking to you for a fee. Of course they’re going to come back to you saying that they found a bunch of links and need more money to kill them.

    I think the last thing any of us want to do is create climate in which this sort of things takes place and spammers can hold webmasters and SEOs to ransom. It seems pretty clear to me that Google is going to have to do something to deal with this. If they’re so worried about unnatural links all the time, this sort of thing should be top of their priority list.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ruud.vanderveen Ruud van der Veen

    Barry, the referral for this article is this:
    Google’s Sending Webmaster Notifications About Bad Links Pointing At Their Sites , talking about paid links and not only a link directory. Some years ago Matt Cutts has stated in a video Google will not penalize because another human being is linking to ……

    A penalty is obvious if one is paying for those links ( more then one)

    A linkdirectory without any control is not the best, a linkdirectory specific on certain groups of websites is not bad, in line of earlier messages.

    So why this warning ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/the.nathaniel.bailey Nathaniel Bailey

    Something similar to this came up on the seo chat forums a couple of weeks back and I noticed that a number of “small directories” which had been de-indexed from google now have affiliate links in the header to a site which charges to remove your links from a number of directories for you to “save you time”.

    When checking a little more into this I noticed that those directories with the same affiliate links where in fact all hosted and owned by the same person who seems to have gone out and bought old directories which google has de-indexed in what looks to be an attempt to con money out of people to remove links from directories which that person in fact seems to own.

  • http://www.facebook.com/martin.stanford.790 Martin Stanford

    And thats exactely why I handle all my link building activities via a marketplace like teliad.com. They take care about the integration of the links and also the removal… This is silly.

  • Durant Imboden

    I’m surprised they aren’t charging more. $10 for a report and $25 to remove links from 100 directories sounds pretty cheap. (Then again, these guys don’t have to hire someone like Rocky as enforcers for their extortion/protection racket: They’ve got Google to break their victims’ thumbs.)

  • http://twitter.com/rjonesx rjonesx

    My gut instinct is that you should pay for removals. There is real labor involved in removing them and you should cover it.

  • essmeier

    There is nothing illegal about linking to someone, and yes, it is a headache to remove links.  If you want me to do something for you that will help your SEO, do nothing for me, and require that I spend time to do it, you can pay me.

    Or you can take a hike.  I am OK either way, as I would rather not bother.

  • http://www.JoeRega.com/ Joseph Rega

    i think i’ll wait for Google’s disavow tool to be released

  • RyanMJones

    I wouldn’t worry about a few directory links causing your site to tank. I’ve not yet seen an example where it’s just a few spammy links that are causing a site to be penalized.  (yes, 100 is a few.)  Not saying it’s not possible, just that I haven’t seen it documented anywhere yet.  

    Note: this applies to directory or comment or forum links. If you’re buying or selling links, and it’s super obvious, then a couple may in fact hurt.  

  • http://www.rustybrick.com/barry Barry Schwartz

    Google now does penalize for others linking to you.  Not always but they do as I referenced in the unnatural link warnings link in the story above. 

  • RyanMJones

    also, I don’t mind the directories charging to remove if it’s a situation where you submitted your own link originally or you paid to have it listed from the start.  If they added it without your consent though, that’s a different story. 

  • http://twitter.com/nelsonjames nelsonjames

    These link directory guys are brilliant! It reminds me of Dr Suess’s Star Belly Sneetches story and SEO’s are the ones that wanted stars, and now they don’t.

  • Uri Lederman

    Just another reason why I say “I love what I do”, I just don’t like the industry I am in…. scams… scams and more scams..  more money being sucked by unsuspecting merchants through real  ass whipes..    just terrible..

  • http://twitter.com/Semidoppel Semidoppel

    I think I’ll wait for Google’s disavow tool too before making my decision if I’ll pay or not

  • http://www.getlawyerleads.com/ David Matson

    It is hard to image that google will allow what is essentially a negative seo shakedown business to stand.

  • Agência Macan

    The truth is that many SEO were not thinking of the consequences when making spam, just wanted to positioning, is the way it is.

    As I have already spoken to some friends .. The conscious professional looking to produce quality content that generate backlinks natural or prospecting in places that are the same niche via guest blog.

    Now with a tool to “deny links” I believe the only SPAM will “refine”.

  • http://twitter.com/ianhowells Ian Howells

    Saying that you can/should threaten to sue someone for linking to you as one of the viable options seems either ignorant, disingenuous, or intentionally stupid. 

    I can’t decide which this is.

  • http://twitter.com/melaniephung Melanie Phung

    May I remind you of the whole business model of RipOffReport? ;)

  • http://www.getlawyerleads.com/ David Matson

    Good point! 
    Although, at least with ripoffreport, there is an argument to be made that it is a “legitimate” consumer service.
    G can’t encourage other generic directories to get into the negative seo business.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fionn.downhill Fionn Downhill

    Only when Google works out how to value a site on the quality of its content not links pointing to it will this nonsense end.  They took the principal of the web ie. linking information together and turned it into a monster which they do not seem to be able to crawl out from under.  They have wall to wall PHDs why cant they work this out.

  • http://twitter.com/BeckyLehmann Rebecca Lehmann

    What a misleading headline. I thought you were going to expose some kind of extortion scheme in which websites are threatened with negative SEO unless they cough up some cash, like an old fashioned mob protection racket. But that’s not what’s happening at all from what I’ve read here. I’m not a fan of those kinds of directories, but if the webmasters are being deluged with requests and doing so much work to keep up, why shouldn’t they charge for it? It’s YOU asking THEM to spend precious time on your link removal request. I don’t see a controversy here. 

  • http://twitter.com/CommSEO CommunitySEO

    It’s inevitable that people will start paying to remove competitor links soon. Good job Matt Cutts!

  • http://twitter.com/WrightAaronM Aaron Wright

    Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t this tactic bordering on extortion? I understand that the site owners are the ones who put their link in the directory to begin with, but that doesn’t matter in my view. It is similar to a phone book company that suddenly says “We want $25 from you or we will post a negative ad about your company in our phone  book.” I don’t see the difference.

    I have never used such a directory myself, but I worry that this is a slippery slope toward a new form of online blackmail. What is to stop some sketchy site from purposely posting links to your site unless you pay them? You could file a lawsuit, but even if you win you will accrue lost time and legal fees. The only other option I can see is for Google to roll out their disavow tool. But even that could be a huge time sink. If the fee to remove your link is less than the value of your time spent using the disavow tool, it could still be profitable for the directory sites who are doing this.

  • http://twitter.com/MichelleBusta10 Michelle Bustaman

    There is real labor involved in removing them and you should cover it. http://AmazingWayOnlineCash.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kevin.Lee.QED Kevin Lee

    The best that will come of this is the acceleration of a disavow functionality.

    The fact that Google even needs to address the un-natural nature of so many links these days illustrates how difficult it is to keep an organic algo from being massively manipulated even by the competition of a particular site.  For ten years or more we’ve been saying that Google is between a rock and a hard place.  If they penalize for links that look un-natural (rather than simply invalidating the links) it opens the door to link poisoning. 
    And even if they only invalidate links and meter out penalties rarely (when evidence is incontrovertible), there is still an incentive to buy links because without a penalty some purchased links are likely to get through. 

  • enavagate

    Aaron, that’s what I was thinking, because even though it may be fair to
    charge it sure sounds like extortion.  But then if the links are legit
    then we shouldn’t have to have them removed anyway.

    This has just left me racking my brain to think if I have any reason to even worry about it.  I doubt it. I’ll wait for the tool Google says they will release.

  • newyorker_1

    there is no extortion If you willingly added your links there. There is a legit right of the owner to ask for a fee for his manual labor for removing those links. If you didn’t put your links there, now that’s extortion. the sad thing here is that a guy that has 100 directories is still in the Google index. He should be thrown out long time ago and you shouldn’t worry about those links…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Barker/100001415741379 Mark Barker

    Its not extortion to charge a fee for link removal – I run a network of autoblogs with articles from article directories. The twits who submitted articles to ezine, goarticles etc now spam me wanting me to remove their link. Guess what its going to cost you $50 for my efforts and if you don’t like it then you can sit back and enjoy you Google penalties. Serves you right for trying to please the a-holes in Redwood.

  • andreascy

    Humans are evil. They do anything today in order to earn some money. Such a pathetic tactic! Knowledge always was the power and always will be and of course not being naive and believing on such things. Thank you so much for this interesting topic!

  • Herry sumit

    can any body tell me how much is Google paying for removing a link ?

  • http://twitter.com/thelondoneer The Londoneer

    In recent weeks I’ve started to see some very dodgy sites linking back to my blog. If, as you say, they’re now starting to charge ‘removal fees’ I wonder if lots and lots of us are being targeted in the hope that we’ll bite and pay the Russians/Nigerians or whoever some money to get rid of them…

    It’s an interesting twist on the tried and tested scams – you have to give them credit for original thinking…

  • BIrwin1

    Bring on disavow

  • Alan Goldstein


    Some one is publishing my website in directories and lots of article websites with spine content. I don’t know who is this.. Is google will penalize for me??? 

  • Alan Goldstein

    Some one is publishing my website in directories and lots of article websites with spine content. I don’t know who is this.. Is google will penalize for me??? 

  • Deboti Chowdhury

    I agree with you. We should never entertain this kind of an offer. It is dangerous.

  • Rajesh Magar

    Yeah it’s really getting more and more worse to divorce with badly links. As the search engine, social networking bubble is on evolving lots of responsibilities of work are held on our shoulder.

    It will be really great for we all when Google will also publish there own link removal tool.

  • Lauren Hartman

    I’ve been working on removing hundreds and hundreds of questionable backlinks for a client of ours. On the one hand, I totally understand charging money for removing a link, because manually removing anything takes up precious time, especially if you’re getting hundreds of these.

    On the other hand, I’m pretty sure that our client has not been submitting their website to directories for months now, and we’re still getting new backlinks from directories. I’m worried these new directories will ask us to pay them to remove these links, when we definitely did not put them there.

    So I see both sides of this argument…it’s a tricky question.

  • http://www.reaseo.com/ Jerry Mosher

     And the pot calls the kettle black. I doubt your splogs are causing anyone a penalty. It a shame people think they have to rely on Google traffic so much and that they believe some directory links or auto splog links will hurt them. If links like these can hurt your site that easily Google will die off with bad SERPs.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gus.vdwalt Gus Van der Walt

    I read an awesome article on SEOmoz yesterday regarding the link warnings and the effects of spammy links. Rand had asked for spam links and obviously got loads. In the results their site wasn’t affected at all. So essentially if you have a rather decent natural link profile a couple of these links shouldn’t affect your site. 

    I get that the younger or less links you have it can have this affect. But isn’t this just another ploy to maximise income when people who aren’t fully aware of the entire situation. 

    I think the best bet would be to either wait for disavow tool from Google or to see if a particular link does hurt. I understand its a process and can take a while but rather remove one bad link instead of all. 

    Avoid it all by doing research on the prospective linking opportunities is probably a much better idea haha.

    Great post Barry!

  • Jeff Dinardo

    Can someone comment on, or point me to an article to, focusing on what types of incoming links I should be wary of? I’d hate to move forward with removing, or disavowing… when I might be blocking a link that isn’t really dangerous.

  • http://www.seogenx.com/ Nandkishor

    So, now removing links is also as important as getting links! It’s time for Google to include Disavow feature before more of such new businesses come out.

  • http://www.seogenx.com/ Nandkishor

    So, now removing links is also as important as getting links! It’s time for Google to include Disavow feature before more of such new businesses come out.

  • http://twitter.com/erocketSEO Dave Fowler

    This is a tough one. Most directories are populated with entries that SEOs themselves have previously, and explicitly, requested. Now, if you run one (or more commonly, more) directories, and you start receiving hundreds or thousands of link removal requests – which has become perfectly possible in the wake of so many 
    unnatural links warnings – then you could suddenly find you’ve got a full time job on your hands just administering these requests. Are you really expected to do all this work for free? Would you? Would I? I don’t think so. 

    Personally, I think a nominal admin fee is not unreasonable – maybe around $5 – but not the kind of fees we’re hearing about ($25 +). SEOs need to be realistic about the need for directory owners to charge for removal requests, but directory owners need to charge an honest rate to do so.

    Rather than bow to charlatans trying to fleece site owners, here’s what I would like to see if on the receiving end of an unnatural links warning. If you find the cost of some link removal requests excessive (whether directories or other unpaid links) then it is surely better to leave the link in situ, and to include the reason why a link remains in your reconsideration request. Perhaps then, if alerted to a large number of these for a single site, Google can take some action on the site hosting the link. Advising the directory owner of your intention to include these details in your reinclusion request may even prompt them into action, an alternative to potentially toothless threats to sue.

  • http://twitter.com/dergal Gerry White

    If you were the ones requesting all these links – now you want them to go in and remove them … surely it is only fair for them to charge ? 

    The ridiculous situation is that directories should NOT be considered bad links – Google should use them as discovery not for rankings – Google have created a really bad situation recently and lets face it Google used to PUSH us to use directories – I am sure all of us know of the relationship between Google and Dmoz in the past – they even had a copy of it on Google.com – so now they are telling people that directories can count against you?  No way…! Google are quite frankly creating an absolute mess of this situation … 

  • http://twitter.com/dergal Gerry White

    so I go and create links to thegooglecache.com, from my dodgy blog … that I also link to Gambling etc.. and charge you you to get it removed … its that dangerous line… Google has created a serious issue here…  

    The other side is, say I run a blog and someone has been leaving dodgy comment spam on it – I sure as hell would love to charge lots of money to get that rubbish removed by the person who spammed it … A new fresh WP blog I created for my wife is  already getting spam comments on a daily basis! 

  • http://twitter.com/AllTravelSites AllTravelSites

    As an owner of a few directories, and blogs, I have been getting request to remove links quite often. If someone paid me to put the links on my side, or bothered to leave a comment with a link, then a small administrative fee is in order.