Google’s Disavow Tool – The Lowdown
In mid-October 2012, Google announced its latest tool in the fight against negative SEO tactics: the Disavow Tool. How does this work exactly? In theory, the tool allows you to label certain back links as “unwanted”, thereby removing them from counting toward your site’s search engine rankings. While this is a great idea and an even better way to remove negative credibility from your site’s Google repertoire, there are only some instances in which you should use it. We will outline some of the more nuanced details of this tool so that you can get the most out of it and know when exactly to use it.
Bad Link Notifications
Google offers a way for you to know whether or not some back links to your site have been flagged or are otherwise impacting your rankings. In the Google Webmaster Tools section, you can see notification of any “bad” incoming links to your site, which is very helpful when it comes to using the Disavow Tool. In all of these circumstances, it is recommended that you use the tool so that any negative connotations being associated with the site are removed without haste. Pinging YouTube video URLs may be great, but having negative back links on YouTube is quite different and you want to take care of this as soon as possible.
Refusal from Webmasters
While many negative back links can be found on sites where comments are frequently used, you may run into situations where you need to remove a back link that is directly on another site. The first action should always be to contact the webmaster and ask for the link to be removed. While the option for reconsideration can be appealed to Google, they often do not do so. If you receive no response from the webmaster and/or a refusal to do so, then using the Google Disavow Tool is your only option.
Impacted By Penguin
When Penguin was implemented in April 2012, many webmasters noticed that their traffic and search engine rankings dropped like a rock. If you were affected by these changes, chances are that your site was flagged for being too optimised. The predominant cause of this is excessive or abnormal anchor text that may be included in back links. In many of these cases, removal via the Disavow Tool is the only option to recover from the Penguin impact. If you have been pinging YouTube videos and inserting comments with backlinks in them, for instance, you may have the opportunity to remove these yourself instead of resorting to the Disavow Tool.
Before you begin removing every potential bad back link in site, be sure to do your research. Google’s new tool is just that – new – and there can be complications and problems when using it in its initial stages. You may even want to consider having a professional SEO firm look over your back links to help discern which ones to keep and which ones to disavow. The last thing you want to do is disavow multiple good links that may appear to be bad ones.