Ever since the Google Penguin update, webmasters and SEO professionals have been requesting Google to offer a tool to help them disavow spammy links that are pointing to websites that they manage. Why? Do you remember the time when Google sent out unnatural link warnings through Google Webmaster Tools?
Websites who received those messages panicked, the advise that Google gave was to clean-up and remove any links that artificially pass PageRank – then submit a reconsideration request. This was Matt Cutts’ advise on dealing with the unnatural link warnings. Cleaning up those links can be a laborious task. Imagine if a website was paying someone on Fiverr for 5000 blog comment links or have participated in a blog network. How the hell are they going clean those up?
Bing listened and launched their own disavow tool. Read about it here. After 4 months, Google has decided to join the party.
Google Launches the Disavow Tool
Yesterday, Google officially announce the launch of their disavow tool. I was following the #Pubcon Twitter stream and saw this:
— WMX (@googlewmc) October 16, 2012
Here’s the video of Matt explaining about the tool:
The official announcement on the Google Webmaster blog is here, if you are interested to read about it.
The key takeaways from the announcement are:
- The vast, vast majority of sites do not need to use this tool in any way. If you’re not sure what the tool does or whether you need to use it, you probably shouldn’t use it.
- Google will need to recrawl and reindex the URLs you disavowed before your disavowals go into effect, which can take multiple weeks.
- Disavowing links are suggestive to Google and not a directive. This means that Google can choose to ignore the disavow request.
I am not going to go through what this tool does and how to use it. If you want a comprehensive guide, check out the amazing Google Link Disavow Tool: The Complete Guide by @dejanseo. Dan Petrovic has gone in to extreme detail in the guide on how to use to tool, highly recommend that you download and read that guide before you use the tool.
Not Everyone is Convinced
As soon as the announcement was made public, some of the heavy hitters in the SEO world expressed their views on the tool:
Google just crowd sourced paid link publishers with disavow. Think about multiple disavows from same domain publishers. Nice googs.
— Joe Griffin (@joegriffin) October 17, 2012
Wondering if disavow tool is just a crowdsourced way for Google webspam to ID manipulative links disguised as a webmaster tool…
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) October 16, 2012
I have the same view as these guys, I believe that Google maybe using this to pick up (crowdsource) the pieces that the ‘Unnatural Link Warning’ saga left off:
- Google is going to have a even larger database of websites that think they have ‘dirt’
- Google will start to identify footprints where paid linking and manipulative links are taking place
- More blog networks will be uncovered and shut down *woot*
My Humble Opinion
- If your website is performing well and everything looks healthy, stay as far away from the tool as possible. The last thing you want to do is to have Google looking at your website like a hawk.
- If you think that you may have some spammy links pointing to your website but have no clear penalties from Google and no unnatural link warning message – don’t rock the boat! Stay away from the tool.
- If you have been hit by Penguin and received unnatural link warning messages in the past, use the disavow tool and follow instructions. Be extremely careful to only include links that are really dodgy. The last thing you want to do is remove valuable links by mistake.
Overall, this is a great move by Google on making the SERPs a better place for everyone. It forces more SEO’s to think about their link building tactics and embrace inbound marketing and focus more on building a brand. I am looking forward to reading up in the coming weeks on the SEO community’s experience with the tool and hope that someone will have a kick-ass case study to share.
What Do You Think?
I am keen to hear about your thoughts and opinions on this one. Please leave a comment of tweet at me – I love having a discussion.