Google’s Link Disavow Tool: Penguin Cure?
Ever since April 24th, when Google’s Penguin Update took effect, webmasters have been speculating and fearing if there would ever be a way to get those lost rankings back. When the Google “webspam” team admitted that the algo update included actual penalties from certain bad links, it gave birth to the new industry of negative SEO. Up until this update, bad links were simply discounted by Google’s algorithms. They would simply pass no PageRank to the linked destination. With Penguin, bad links started passing negative PageRank, or “poison” to destination sites. With this update, it made it possible for an outside force to actually harm your rankings by carrying out negative SEO tactics on your site. Despite Matt Cutts’s attempt to calm webmasters by telling them that Google goes out of their way to prevent negative SEO, it became not only widely used, but quite effective. Sketchy black hatters found it much more appealing to bring their competition’s sites do
wn rather than contributing better content and improving their own sites.
Enter the Link Disavow Tool
Many webmasters have begged for some method to tell Google “Hey, that’s not a link I built, please don’t blame me”. Bing already introduced such a tool, but it only feeds them data to tweak their algorithms a
What the Tool Does:
The tool is accessible via Google Webmaster Tools, and allows you
to upload a .txt file with URLs on separate lines of links you wish to disavow. Matt Cutts urges everyone to only use this as a last resort and to first attempt to remove these bad links from the web altogether. They go out of their way to warn webmasters not to immediately rush out there to upload all their bad links to the tool – indicating that the tool will actually acc
Cutts’s exact words on how they would treat the links you wish to disavow:
We treat it as a very strong suggestion, but we don’t treat it as something that we absolutely have to abide by.
I wouldn’t let this alarm you
. Chances are, unless a manual action has been taken on you, it WILL have an effect. But as
with anything with new updates, I wouldn’t be so quick to jump on the band wagon and rush to this tool to cure all your Penguin woes. Everything Google does feeds its’ knowledge to change it’s algorithms in the future. You can bet that simply by using the tool, you’re admitting to webspam and I don’t see any reason why Google wouldn’t take that very fact into account when considering your site. I would give it a few weeks or months to play out and see what other webmasters have experienced before jumping in right away.
- The tool allows you to upload links which you want Google to ignore, thus cutting off the ‘poison’ coming from those links.
- Google treats it as a strong suggestion but reserves the right to ignore it.
- Google strongly suggests trying to remove bad links before resorting to this tool.
- Links could take “weeks” to be ignored completely.
- By using the tools, you’re almost certainly admitting to webspam. Who knows what affect this will have on future issues your site encounters.
- Chances are sites that have a lot of people disavowing links from them will both themselves be penalized or even deindexed, and eventually train Google’s algorithms even more which types of sites are ‘bad neighborhoods’.
I think this is a very good first step to putting an end to the industry of negative SEO. I’m sure as a bit more time goes by, we will know more about the true affects of the tool’s use, and see if it will help webmasters clean up their acts and clean up Penguin penalty problems. I would still do all I could to remove such links by contacting webmasters before attempting to use the disavow tool. I see it as many modern medicines… It could help a major sickness, but you should only use it if you really have no choice, because it can become addictive, and because it could produce unintended side-affects.
Before you remove or disavow any links whatsoever, you need to know which links are poisoning you, so you don’t remove useful links! I cannot stress this enough. I will write a more detailed post about this but here’s a very basic process:
Basic Penguin De-Poisoning Process:
- Link audit
- Diagnose bad links
- Contact webmasters for removal
- Contact ISP for removal
- Disavow links
- Change your backlinking habits