Removing bad links

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Background: I’m currently involved in a fairly large project about removing spammy links to some domains. Those links were created by some individuals who hacked thousands of websites (!) across the Internet and injected pages with links to a few websites that have the top ranks in an extremely popular niche, for topnotch keywords. Over the last month I contacted 2k+ of these websites and asked them to remove the links. Some of them did, most of them didn’t bother.

The reason why I’m writing this article is that I stumbled into this post from Matthew Woodward. His tutorial is full of insightful tips, and definitely recommended for anyone who is going through hell and back in an attempt to clear this kind of mess. I have some recommendations regarding how to contact webmasters.

Get organized

You will contact a huge number of people, and you must be able to track results. If you’re going to use a plain Excel sheet, you will soon find yourself banging your head against the wall. Get a CRM solution. There are many free CRMs out there — both SaaS and self-hosted — as well as cheap solutions ($20ish/mo/user). I can’t make any recommendations yet, as I’m still trying to find the best one for our business.

Don’t use your corporate email address

… unless you know what you’re doing. The reason is that a lot of the emails you’re going to send will be flagged as spam by recipients. A lot of people won’t bother to read your email, and will instantly think you’re trying to sell something. And getting yourself out of DNSBLs is usually a pain in the ass.


Provide screenshots

You know what they say — a picture is worth a thousand words. Rather than explaining which link you’re talking about (i.e. “third paragraph below the picture with the cute monkey, right after referring to the cultural implications of growing bananas next to a corn field”), plug in a link to a screenshot. To make your job easier, use a browser extension like Lightshot (for Chrome or Firefox).

Use multiple channels

I had the best response rates when I contacted webmasters on Facebook. If the website you want to contact has a Facebook page, then use it first. Social media accounts can show you if the site is still active — if the last post on Facebook dates back from 2013, then you’re probably shit out of luck.

Call people who don’t reply to emails

There are pretty cheap international calling plans out there. Don’t be afraid to call the lazy mofos who won’t take care of their websites. (I will come with another article on how to make cheap/free calls). Jokes aside, some people are too busy to fix an issue they don’t quite understand with a site they don’t quite need, but if you call them, they might do something about it.

Get ready for rude rejections

No matter how polite you are, there is a chance you will run into some rude people who will literally tell you to mind your fucking business and go fuck yourself. Move over, it’s not the end of the world. Nor is it the end of the list of links to remove.


That’s what I had to add to Matthew’s post. More ideas?

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