Google have released a new tool called the Google Disavow Tool and the concept is that this tool will allow you to remove spammy or poor quality “unnatural” links from the ranking equation that Google performs when deciding what position to place your website in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Below is an explanation as to how links now work in this post-Penguin SEO world we live in.
Google uses a large number (more than 200) of factors to assess which sites are most worthy of placement on the first page of their results. One of the main factors is how many links are pointing to your website from other people’s web sites (i.e. websites that are not controlled by you). Google considers these links as votes that to speak to your websites quality and authority. Another factor is the quality and relevance of those same “external” or “off-page” links.
Once upon a time the more links you had pointing to your website the better. However that is no longer the case since the release of the Google Penguin update, which significantly changed the way that Google’s algorithm assesses off-page links. Now having too many low quality links can potentially negatively affect your websites performance.
The Google Disavow Tool was designed to give webmasters to the ability to tell Google that they want Google to ignore certain links from certain pages or domains on the web.
This new tool is located in your Google Webmaster Tools account; however most people will never need, and should not use this tool.
The reality is that 98% of website owners should never need to use the disavow tool, even if they have practised Black Hat SEO techniques whilst promoting their website. If you have never undertaken any black hat SEO techniques, used mass submission tools, or hired an SEO company who used those tools, then you will probably never need to cross paths with the Disavow Tool.
Need to use the Disavow Tool?
1 – Ask yourself have you ever taken shortcuts when attempting to grow your SERPs position? Have you hired anyone to add a link to your site to 5000 articles they’ve mass submitted? Used an “affordable” SEO company to do work on your behalf?
2 – Log in to your Webmaster Tools account and check to see if there are any advisory’s from Google. Google will warn you if they find links that are hurting your website. These warnings are designed to show you the type of links they don’t want to see pointing to your website and if you have any advisory warnings in your Webmaster Tools account then you will need to do a few things.
Mat Cutts in the video below outlines what the tool is about and when you might need to use it.
1 – This is a very powerful tool with which you could do serious damage to your websites performance in the search engines. Use with EXTREME Caution and if you are unsure at all, hire a professional to advise you.
2 – It will take a couple of weeks for what you do there to take effect, and if you make a mistake it’s probable that Google won’t undo or reverse that mistake for you. Even in the unlikely event that they do re-avow your links, they will most probably be reduced in value. The lesson here is that making mistakes with this tool is a very bad idea.
3 – Better than using the Disavow Tool is to manually try and have the links taken down yourself. (i.e. contact the webmaster of an offending site and ask him/her to remove the links to your website)
4 – The warnings that Google give you about bad/poor quality links that you can fix with the Disavow Tool are examples of links they have a problem with. This is not a comprehensive list of all the problem links pointing to your site. You should complete a full backlink audit of your website to weed out the other problem backlinks.
5 – If you are the victim of a Negative SEO campaign from one of your competitors you may need the Disavow Tool but you should only use it when you are certain beyond any doubt that you have been the victim of a Negative SEO attack.
How to use the tool:
First of all change your mind and don’t use the tool. Seriously, you should try and contact the webmasters for the websites where you have unnatural links coming from first. You probably don’t need to get rid of them all. You should only use the Disavow Tool when there is literally no other option AND when you are 110% sure that the links you are looking to get rid of are toxic.
Before committing to using this tool and travelling down a road you can’t turn back on, I’d urge you to read my Ultimate Guide To The Google Disavow Tool.
If after that you still think it’s a good idea to take the knife to your backlinks, you will want to follow these steps:
1 – Login to your Webmaster Tools Account.
2 – Click on the website you want to Disavow links from
3 – Click on the Traffic menu item in the left hand sidebar
4 – Click on the “Links to Your Site” link
5 – Click the Download link
The file that downloads will contain a list of all the pages linking to your website. From this document you can look at the various links and evaluate their worth. Once you have gone through the list and deleted any links you feel are HIGH QUALITY you will be left with a list of undesirable/toxic URLs.
6 – Create a new text file
7 – Copy and paste in the URL to each website you wish to disavow – one URL per line
8 – Goto the Disavow Links Page in Webmaster Tools found here
9 - Select your website from the list
10 – Click Disavow Links
11 – Click the Choose file button and upload your text file.
It’s important to note two points in relation to the execution of your wishes with this tool:
First, Google will decide which links they will disavow and your file that you’ve uploaded will be taken as a suggestion only.
Second, changes to your backlinks will take a number of weeks after you submit your file for consideration.
Thirdly, Google have said that its probable that they won’t correct mistakes. If they do it will be a very slow process and even afterwards the re-avowed links will not carry as much value as they had done.
It is highly unlikely that you will need to use this tool and even if you think you do need to use it, you probably shouldn’t. Try and manually have links removed. If you do go ahead and use the Disavow Tool, use it sparingly and with the same degrees of caution you would if you were disarming a bomb. Do NOT make any mistakes.
Have you received any Bad Link warnings from Google? Any questions about the new tool?