Announced at the Las Vegas Pubcon convention, this new tool allows webmasters – those that have a Google Webmasters Account – to report and possibly get rid of bad or spammy links to their website, links that could be hurting their SEO rankings.
These links are reviewed by Google and, if found to be spam, could face removal from Google search results.
While Google recommends the use of Disavow Links only in last-resort situations, it could do a lot to improve the web as a whole, cutting down on bad SEO practices, improving search results for users and helping webmasters improve their own organic search rankings.
What it is
The Disavow Links tool is essentially a reporting system for bad URLs and links. Essentially, webmasters are able to submit a list of links to their site that they believe are spam, unnatural, disreputable or otherwise bad, and Google will consider removing them from search results. Typically, removing bad links will take at least a few weeks.
The tool is intended to be the final straw in a webmasters’ attempt to have a bad link removed. Google recommends contacting the webmaster of the spam link’s domain to request removal before using the Disavow Links tool.
Disavow Links was likely created in response to Google’s latest Penguin algorithm update which, instead of turning its head to bad or spammy links when determining a site’s search ranking, actually uses those links as a strike against the site.
Why to use it
Many websites have been hurt by the Penguin update. Past link building campaigns may have resulted in a number of URLs and links that now hurt, rather than help, the site’s ranking in Google. The Disavow Links tool offers a road to a clean slate for those websites.
Whether the links were the result of a bad SEO practitioner on behalf of the site itself, or if they were paid links, the Disavow Links tool can help remove those is webmasters are unable to leverage the removal themselves.
The tool can also help if webmasters believe someone may be creating negative SEO against them, either to hurt a business or to direct traffic away to another site.
Additionally, Disavow Links can help clean up a site’s image in search results. Users will no longer see confusing or spam-related links when searching, links that could affect their view of the site or its reputation.
How to use it
To use the Disavow Links tool, you first must have a Google Webmasters account.
From there, you’ll need to select your website and upload a text file. The file should list each individual URL you’d like to see removed or investigated on a separate line – no commas, or semicolons.
If you’d like to have a whole domain removed, you simply need to use “domain:XX.com,” instead of a direct URL.
According to Google, it could be a number of weeks before links are removed and, even then, there’s no guarantee they will be. Google reserves the right to use its own judgment in removing links from search results.
Google representatives say it’s important to be careful when using the Disavow Links tool. Accidentally disavowing an important link to your site could severely affect site health and, while the links can be reinstated upon request, it could take another few weeks for the process to be complete.
About the Author: Eric Stauffer is an internet marketer and small business advocate. He currently works with CardPaymentOptions.com, where they review payment processors like WePay and iZettle. They also help small businesses manage their payment solutions.