This was written to train new office staff, as it now seems that my blog is moving in that direction – so industry vets looking for dramatic insight turn away now.
Step 1 – Identifying the issue. The 1st thing to do is actually to identify your bad back links, if you don’t know how to do this then see my post on identifying bad backlinks. (you can use a lot of tools to export your link profiles, I use linkresearchtools.com).
Step 2 – Scrape the sites for emails. This is really the 1st step; best thing to do is run the domains through something like scrape box or citation labs. This won’t pick up all the emails you need, but it is a start and if you get a couple of replies from those emails it will have saved you some time.
Step 3 – Send the emails. No Brainer really, DO NOT threaten a DMCA takedown notice, this may get some extra responses, but can be harmful to your brand. Just be decent about it, tell them that you think the link is in violation of Google Webmaster Ts and Cs (being honest) and you would like them to take it down.
Best done from an email that belongs to the company you’re requesting the removal for. However if not a legitimate company email for an actual business will work. Using an @hotmail.com account or something similar will hinder the process.
Step 4 – The scraped emails didn’t work to well. Well you shouldn’t have expected them to. The next step is the manual step. You need to actually go and look at the website for contact details. If they have a contact form, put your message in their but note the other details down somewhere and send them another email.
If you can’t find the details on site, try Who.is, if this doesn’t work try archive.org (look and see if the details ever were on the site. And finally if this doesn’t work then try social media; if the site has some social accounts tied into them; then contact them through that.
Step 5 – Phone. You should’ve come across some phone numbers when going through the sites. Now it’s time to use these. Now really calling works better, but a lot of people don’t like doing this. If you don’t mind use this approach 1st.
Step 6 – Beg for Forgiveness. If you’re doing this because you have had penalty now is time to ask Google for forgiveness with a re-inclusion request.
Step 7 – Repeat. Go through steps 4 and 5 again; and again until you get rid of as much as you are realistically going to. You can NOT remove everything. The problem is some of the worst sites will be the hardest to contact. Get used to this now if you’re in SEO. It may not be fun, but backlink removal is here to stay.
Step 5.5 – Ask the Host. Originally I didn’t mention this as quite simply I didn’t think that I’d have much success. I stand corrected some hosts, particularly lunarpages (kudos for how they handled it) are actually very active in contacting the webmasters of sites that you want the links removed from on your behalf. So you may as well try contacting them if you’re out of other methods.
Step 8 – Get “Creative”. There are other ways to get rid of links, I’m not going to list them for you and I’m certainly not going to tell anyone how to do it. But, there of pleanty of places that will tell you how to take down a site or certain legal threats that will scare hosting companies and registrars, for that you just have to find the right dirt on the site, links to pirate streaming sites etc.