Google Link Disavow Tool: The Inside Scoop
After months of anticipation, Google has (for once) followed Bing’s lead, and rolled out their own version of a tool that allows webmasters to discount bad links pointed at their sites.
The web master and SEO community have cried out for a Google link disavow tool for months, in the wake of the Penguin algorithm update, and Google has indeed answered the call. With this tool in hand, Webmaster Tools users now have the ability to “clean up” their back link portfolio, pruning potentially harmful links that have/could hurt their standing with Google.
It should be noted that Google will take these disavowed links as “strong suggestions” as stated by Matt Cutts, meaning most of the time Google will oblige but it is not set in stone.
Overreaction to the Hype
The knee jerk reaction to this news is obviously to go hacking away at your backlink portfolio, decimating any even remotely shady looking links in your path. However, we offer a word of caution when using this tool…
Let that sink in: This tool is not necessary for the vast majority of websites!
While the link disavow tool provides a great “get out of jail card” for those websites who have actually incurred penalties regarding “unnatural” inbound linking, there can actually be extreme repercussions for those who are not careful.
The first step in identifying whether or not you should take these matters into your own hands is to ask yourself these questions:
- Has my site received “unnatural link warnings” from Google?
- Are my site/pages still indexed in the Google SERPs?
- Have I participated in questionable link building practices (buying links, spammy blog networks, automated “black hat” tactics, etc.)
- What anchor text is being used in my backlinks?
When asking these questions, the idea is to identify if the site has really been affected negatively, or link value has simply been removed. More often than not, web masters’ and SEOs’ initial reaction to drops in search ranking are the effects of a Google “slap”. However it could be the simple fact that those questionable links may have been “devalued”.
The Google link disavow tool is a great step in the right direction for the web master and SEO community. However the effects of using the tool are still up in the air.
If you think your ready to give the link disavow tool a shot, do your homework, wait for a few case studies to come out, and test in small sample sizes.
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