I awoke recently with an email in my inbox asking me for a link removal. Whilst no longer an SEO, I still have a lot of friends and interests in the field, including a couple of sites that are slightly dodgy, including a Bid Directory that was for a long time my biggest earner. It is woefully black hat, but meh. It is just there for the sake of being there. But rather than the link removal being requested for one of my dodgy sites, it was actually aimed at a site that had a pretty good link profile and editorially approved content (albeit dormant) – Blogging Dojo.
Here is the email in full.
Dear Sir / Mam
Our Website XXXXXX has a link from your website. We request you to remove that link at earliest because the backlink is hampering our website ranking and seo very badly.
Page where our link is placed:
We also understand that your website integrity isn’t in question here but the penalty from google is severely affecting our business. The link has already had a very negative effect on our website SEO and business.
We believe that you would take action over it immediately or in case of no action within 24 hrs, we are going to have to file a “Disavow Link” report with Google. If we do this, it may affect your site’s Google rankings…
We would greatly appreciate your help with resolving this problem.
You can also let us know once the links have been removed by return email.
If you need any more information from us, please email me and I will be happy to assist.
We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused you and do appreciate your help.
Thank you and Regards,
Interesting huh? There were a few things that irked me about this email.
We Are Not Saying Your Website is Crap But Your Website Is Crap
Lets start at the beginning, this doozy.
We also understand that your website integrity isn’t in question here….
Yes you are! The next line is this!
The link has already had a very negative effect on our website SEO and business.
So you admit to saying my website is crap, and that being linked to me is harming your business. Effectively with this line you are saying you don’t want to be linked with me? Okay, you’re saying my website, but as most bloggers put their blood, sweat & tears into blogs, it’s often difficult to say when a site ends and a person begins – case in point being The Wolf Within Me, which is written by Cass on her Lupus. By shitting over sites you’d be happy to be a part of mere months earlier, you don’t exactly endear yourself to the group that probably made your business in the first place.
We believe that you would take action over it immediately or in case of no action within 24 hrs…..
SEO is a slow game, with work taking months to have any sort of effect, and as such by posting this timescale for link removal to us we’re stressed. I mean, why have you gone for this timescale? A self imposed deadline by the client? In which case it’s you who have screwed up by not managing client expectations well enough. Let me guess, the client bought on your “insta-SEO” packaged that “Guaranteed #1 Listings”, and this is it unraveling all around you.
The fact is, bloggers generally don’t operate on a 24 hour scale, but usually a few days or more. Take for example outreach, I know when I did it I’d often get replies a week or two later for some blogs. I try and operate on a 24 hour turnaround, but on occasions such as this I couldn’t (I headed out after work, and no I’m not sacrificing my personal life for free because you screwed up). And it had me stressed, largely because of my last point.
Outright Threatening of Bloggers
This was the kicker for me.
we are going to have to file a “Disavow Link” report with Google. If we do this, it may affect your site’s Google rankings
Sorry, but that is utter bullshit.
I just thought this left a sour taste in my mouth. There are ways to do things, and quite frankly, outright threatening people is probably not the way to do things. Even when I was at my most shadiest as an SEO, I treated the people I dealt with with respect, and even my competitors. After all, I was taught to treat SEO as a bit of a game (hell, you ‘game’ the search engine), and whilst I compete against fellow SEO’s, I treat them with respect.
By threatening me, you’re effectively saying that you are willing to sabotage me and my hobbies (or business) in order to get your business back on the straight & narrow, a path deviated from by yourself, not by me. To me, that is a monumentally dickish move.
I reached out to a few SEO’s following receiving the email (and me be absolutely fuming because of it), and Will O’Hara pointed me in the direction of this link - https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2604774?hl=en – which seemed to suggest that even if an SEO “Disavows” you, then by and large you are unlikely to yourself receive a penalty. That was the general consensus from the people I spoke to as well.
The Shape of Things To Come?
The inherent problem of disavow is that people take a chainsaw to a problem where a pair of scissors is probably all that’s needed. By removing links (which, in this occasion, was okay), you also remove the factor that ranked you in the first place. You’re going to have to get these links back in some way using natural methods. Those links are probably going to come from bloggers – if you threaten bloggers, they’re probably not going to link to you.
I’m just worried about what the average site owner is going to think. I mean, I’d like to think I have some SEO knowledge left in me, and I wasn’t sure the intricacies of Google’s wondeful disavow tool. Imagine what bloggers without the experience or connections that I have would do when they receive such an email?
I just think if you take the approach above, you’re biting on the hand that feeds you, and then shitting all over it. Not cool, folks.