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Video: How to Approach Webmasters for the 'Link Talk'

Sooner or later during backlink analysis, you're likely to encounter a link on someone else's website that goes against Google's linking best practices. Perhaps the hosting domain contains too many links, or maybe the anchor text is not relevant for the content to which it links. Whatever the infraction, the responsible party likely didn't commit the linking faux pas deliberately, but rather without best-practice knowledge. If you choose to ignore these noncompliant links, you risk Google penalizing your website and dropping your rank in the SERPS — not a scenario you want.

The solution is to alert the website's webmaster of the issue and of how the ill-conceived link is negatively affecting your own website. The conversation can be tricky, however, because you might inadvertently step on the webmaster's toes or come across as confrontational. So, what's the best and most tactful way to resolve the conflict?

Kyla Becker walks you through the do's and don'ts of reaching out to webmasters, in this video from Merkle|RKG.


Kyla Becker: Hi, welcome back. It's no secret that it can be challenging to reach out to webmaster contacts to request link removals and no-follow implementations. I'd like to discuss with you a few things that you can do to help make that process a little bit easier for yourself and for your contacts.

There's been a little bit of buzz in the industry about whether or not you actually need to conduct outreach in order to get a penalty lifted. However, our processes do include outreach for two reasons. First, it ensures that we're addressing the link right now the way it needs to be addressed. Second of all, it's an opportunity to educate our community at large on what those best practices look like on link implementations.

That first-touch outreach letter is critical in ensuring that you get that conversation going. Some things to keep in mind to not include in those letters are really aggressive language, such as, "take it down," "no-follow it," "you're doing this wrong." We really don't want to be abrasive. Another thing to keep in mind is to limit the amount of links that you're including in that email. Too many links can often lead to landing in a spam folder, and then you don't even get to start the conversation.

So, what does a good letter look like? Here, we start off with introducing ourselves and that we're trying to get our backlinks in line with Google best practice. Then, we include a link to that link scheme information, just the one, so the webmasters have some information to reference when they come to the table. Next, we ensure to thank them for their support of our client, and let them know that their time is valuable to us as well, and that we will work very hard to make sure that any adjustments that need to be made are efficient and easily implemented.

Most of all, we really encourage them to start that conversation with us. We don't give them any sort of actions to take on their site right away, because we want to talk to them about what those links look like, the circumstances behind why they're there, and what we can do to make sure that they're falling in line within Google webmaster guidelines.

Even with the nicest letter, you can still get some push back. Always remember to employ your highest level of professional communications and really use those conflict management skills. Stay calm. Take the time to explain to the contact why you're reaching out, what you're seeing, and why it's a big deal.

The bottom line is be friendly. You're representing your brand or your client, and that communication and that relationship needs to be as strong as it can be. You want those contacts to come away with a good customer experience, because that's what they are. They're customers. They're supporting your brand or client.

We've employed this process for a little while here, and we have seen some success with it. We would love to hear what's worked for you in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by.