Months ago, Google announced it would consider implementing a tool that would allow webmasters to “discount” suspect links coming to their sites. After much anticipation, the tool is here and welcomed by much of the internet community.
After Google Penguin, the roar of angry webmasters could be heard for miles as downgrades and de-indexings were happening faster than people could blink.
Google was insistent on returning the highest quality results for its users, and in response it eradicated many spammy sites, taking the sites it linked to along with it. In addition, negative SEO became the new “fad”, where disgruntled people could send spammy links towards sites to damage their rankings.
As a result of this disaster, Google answered with the disavow link tool.
Who can use this tool? Is it beneficial for you?
First, if your site did not experience any negative effects from Google updates or negative SEO attempts, this tool is not for you. But, read on in case you need to use it in the future.
Are you guilty of “spammy” linking? If so, you may gain a second chance from Google.
After the launch of Penguin, Google unleashed some manual penalties to websites that had linking profiles containing spammy sites. For example, the search engine took down a popular blog network and many sites that utilized these blogs for links received a manual penalty. These penalties show up as messages in the offending sites’ Google Webmaster Tools accounts.
One of them reads:
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links pointing to your site that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include buying links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site so that it meets our quality guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you find unnatural links to your site that you are unable to control or remove, please provide the details in your reconsideration request.
If you have any questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
If you received one of these messages, you are the perfect candidate for the disavow link tool. But, don’t go over there just yet.
According to Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team, you should do everything you can to remove your link from these spammy sites before taking advantage of the tool. Why? Because the tool only discounts the link, it doesn’t remove it completely, which would be the right thing to do.
If you contacted the site owners of the questionable links several times and you cannot remove them, submit a request in webmaster tools to have Google disavow the spammy links.
To find which links to disavow, search for your most recent links by going to [Links to your site] inside the left navigation of your Webmaster Tools account, then click [Who Links the Most], and [More]. In the future, Google will also offer examples of the spammy links that may be affecting your site, although they won’t be the exact ones.
Look for links that come from sites that house excessive links on a wide range of topics, thin content sites, blogs that contain a wide range of subjects, sites that have your link sitewide among other non-related links, or porn and online gambling sites that are unrelated to your niche.
Remember to use the tool only if you are certain you cannot remove the offending links and you are sure the sites are spammy.
Google offers this disclaimer twice during the disavow link process:
This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you only disavow backlinks if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you.