On October 16th 2012, Google launched the Disavow tool, allowing SEOs for the first time to ask the search engine to ignore links that they believe may have caused them to incur a penalty, and negatively affect their search rankings. Whilst this is clearly great news, it should be approached with caution. Let’s find out more.
The need for this tool has arisen from Google’s recent algorithm updates, which have severely penalised sites which have blatantly broken their stringent rules regarding paid links and link spam. Google recently began alerting webmasters to the fact that it had detected these links via a message in Webmaster Tools.
A last resort?
Google has made it clear that the tool should only be used when all avenues for link removal have been explored. It is recommended that a webmaster should first try to manually remove links by contacting the linking site directly and requesting removal. If this proves to be unsuccessful, then the disavow tool can be used, but it is recommended that it is used cautiously.
How to use it
To start with, visit the ‘Links to Your Site’ page in Webmaster Tools, navigating through Traffic > Links to Your Site. Downloading these links in a spreadsheet will be able to show you at a glance all of the links that Google has detected. Google won’t actually tell you which links it considers to contravene its guidelines, this is pretty much guesswork, but it is fair to say that blogroll, footer and forum links are a good place to start.
When you have found the links you’d like to disavow, visit the new ‘Disavow links’ section of the Webmaster Tools dashboard and upload a plain text file, with one URL per line. You can either disavow all pages from a website, or choose to disavow specific pages. Within weeks of the report, Google should disavow links from any pages that are uploaded here.
Who will use it?
It is not just those who have received the dreaded unnatural links warning from Google who should consider using this tool. Those who have engaged the services of an SEO agency renowned for black hat tactics, and also those who suspect that they may have been hit by a ‘negative SEO’ attack should also look into it.
If you require any help or assistance with the disavow tool or any other aspects of internet marketing contact Search Creative.