1. Be Polite!
The webmasters that you contact do not have to remove links; it is a courtesy on their behalf. More times than not, these website owners were paid to put up the links, but most will remove links out of the kindness of their heart. If you custom-write each email, avoid using threats such as legal action or ‘turning them in to Google.’ Many of these webmasters are all too familiar with the Penguin algorithm, and have already received many of these emails in the past. As the old adage goes, “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar”.
2. Be honest, clear, and concise!
I have had a handful clients ask to change the wording in our emails as they want to avoid notifying webmasters of their penalization. Google manual penalties have been around for the past few years, and most webmasters who know anything about SEO are up-to-snuff with these algorithmic changes. That being said, it’s best to be honest and direct with these webmasters. Additionally, avoid putting lots of fluff into the emails; be clear and concise with the explanation of your particular situation, whether it is an algorithmic or manual penalty.
We have received a manual penalty from Google which requires us to remove unnatural links to lift the penalization.
Please remove links to our site, Example.com, from the following pages:
Your assistance in this matter is greatly appreciated, and let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
3. Walk them through the link removal process.
Some webmasters may not be as tech-savvy as most of us in the SEO/SEM world. Fortunately, there are several screen-sharing services out there that you can utilize (for free) to help walk these website owners through the removal of unnatural links to your website. Tools such as SkyFex and ScreenLeap are reputable and effective. If that doesn’t work, send them a video with a grandma explaining how to no-follow a link; I’ve done this a few times, and most of the time it works really well!
4. If all else fails, offer the webmasters payment to remove the links!
Even if it’s just a few dollars, it shows that you are keen to remove the links, and you value their time via monetary compensation. As mentioned earlier, most of these website owners were paid to put the links up, so logic dictates that many of them expect payment to remove them. Additionally, removing links is way more effective than simply disavowing the URL or domain, as it can take weeks, even months, for a disavow file to be completely taken into effect.
BONUS: Thank the webmasters for their time and effort. They don’t HAVE to remove the links for you; they are removing the links out of the kindness of their own heart.
Lastly, if you find yourself in a bind and in need of removal services, check out Hive Digital’s link removal tool, Remove’em. It’s the best tool on the market for link tracking, analysis, webmaster outreach, and reporting link removals to Google, and has proven very successful for hundreds of our clients. Contact [email protected] for pricing details, especially if you have more than one website!