The Google Disavow Links Tool has been getting a lot of attention since it came out. At first glance, it appears to be a solution to many people’s problems in a post-Penguin Internet. So what is the Google Disavow Links Tool? Essentially, it is a way for website owners to submit a disavowal of links to their site that could harm their search engine ranking.
Many website owners received a warning email from Google earlier this year alerting them to the fact that they had identified problematic links to their websites. Website owners were left with the difficult task of trying to manually remove damaging links. This is a natural progression of the process for Google to help website owners resolve issues with their backlinks. Head of Google’s Web Spam team, Matt Cutts points out, that this tool is not a shortcut for manual attempts to clean up your links. Instead, it is the last resort to remove bad links out there on the web.
Google has unleashed the entire Internet and is allowing website owners to flag bad links to their websites. Now, it should be noted that not every link targeted by website owners using the disavow tool will result in reducing the link’s rating to zero. Instead, Cutts states that Google looks at the links identified through the Google Disavow Tool as recommendations. They take these recommendations seriously but use their discretion.
Perhaps this discretion will alleviate some people’s fears that competitors will use the Google Disavow Tool to ruin the competitions’ search engine ranking. But it’s far too early on in the process to understand the full implications of the tool that Cutts termed a “power user’s” tool – It’s not for everyone.
So, Who Should Use the Google Disavow Links Tool?
As Cutts says, this tool is not for everyone and should be used judiciously. In fact, if you’re a small website owner and haven’t done any questionable SEO practices in the past, you’ll probably want to avoid this tool. Like other Google power user tools, if you don’t know what you’re doing, this tool could actually hurt your website.
So who should use the Google Disavow Tool? According to Matt Cutts;
“The post [Google’s announcement post] says anyone with an unnatural link warning. It also mentions anyone hit by Penguin, but I keep getting asked about this. I’m going to reiterate that if you were hit by Penguin and know or think you have bad links, you should probably use this too.”
You may well benefit from the Google Disavow Tool if any of the following apply:
- You made a poor decision and hired an SEO hack
- You have practiced questionable SEO efforts in the past
- You took shortcuts and used poor quality articles
- You used questionable backlink services
- You’ve received bad link warnings from Google
- You’re a victim of “negative” SEO
- You’ve been manually penalized
- You’ve been affected by the Penguin Update
What Are Some Implications of the Google Disavow Links Tool?
Many people are speculating that this tool will have some serious implications for websites in niches that compete for top page rankings. The fear is that it may be abused by competitors to lower search engine rankings by discrediting backlinks. However, this is purely speculation.
Finally, you should know that if you do make use of this tool, it could take weeks before you see results. Google has to crawl and index pages after making the changes in order for the results to show up. This isn’t an easy or quick fix, but it may help those who suffered serious blows due to the Penguin updates earlier this year.
Have you used the Google Disavow Links Tool? What did you think? Does it help? Any accurate data as to how long the results take?