Google’s Disavow Tool – Approach With Caution

If you are involved in a site that has suffered some sort of Google penalty, be it a manual or algorithmic action, taking the necessary steps to right your wrongs and get on a path to recovery is no easy task. It is a task that is more likely to take months rather than days or weeks. To help this process Google has launched a link disavow tool, but site owners shouldn’t rush into using it or try to take shortcuts, as it could possibly do more harm than good.

CautionEven understanding the type of penalty your site has been hit with is not always clear-cut, so thorough research is absolutely key to understanding the problem first before taking any action.

This post is to help give some background on the latest tool Google has added to its webmaster arsenal and to provide information on whether or not to use it.

The disavow tool allows website owners to notify the search engines of links they are unable to remove which they believe are spam and could be having a negative impact on their site.

First and foremost, if you haven’t received notification from Google that your site is operating against its webmaster guidelines and your rankings haven’t dropped off the planet, then there’s probably very little reason for you to start using the tool. Even if you have been hit with an ‘un-natural link’ penalty, it is still recommended you should only use the disavow tool as a last resort after you’ve tried every other means possible to get the spam links removed. Google knows what links you have and if they don’t see that any links have been removed, then it is likely they will determine a site as simply disavowing links without making any other efforts to try and get the links removed – subsequently the disavow submission may end up having no positive impact at all. This message has been made very clear through a recent Q&A Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land conducted with Matt Cutt’s, Google’s head of web spam – Q&A With Google’s Matt Cutts On How To Use The Link Disavow Tool.

In terms of how to use the tool, Google has published a blog post ‘A new tool to disavow links’, and you can also view the video below that gives a quick overview of the tool –

It is worth highlighting that if you have received a manual spam action from Google and you have taken the necessary steps to right the situation, which may include using the disavow tool, you will still need to submit a reconsideration request. It is recommended site owners allow 1 day or more to pass after disavowing links before submitting a reconsideration request. You should also mention in your reconsideration submission that you used the disavow tool.

There’s no doubt this tool could prove really useful for many site owners in difficult situations, but using a powerful tool such as this should be treated carefully so as not to have a zero or at worst a reverse effect. Dr Pete of SEOMOZ has written an excellent post that serves as a great resource in giving some advice to help website owners decide whether disavowal is a good fit and how to use the tool wisely.

For sure links still rule the waves as a major scoring metric used by the search engines in terms of determining where to rank sites in SERPs. However, as we all know, there are many different types of external links that can be acquired, and today more than ever it is crucial sites are building a healthy backlink profile which includes links from quality, relevant sites. Not adhering to Google’s guidelines and building manipulative links will result in sites being penalised for their actions – the simple reality today is that Google is better than ever at checking on the quality of a sites’ backlink profile and the penalties for not following the rules are severe.

Have you used Google’s Disavow Tool yet? Please submit a message below – be great to receive your thoughts.

About Simon Colley

Simon Colley is Managing Director of Absolute Internet Marketing.

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