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Introducing Google’s new disavow link tool

Over the last few months, Google’s mission has been to go after websites that have got a tonne of links; from low-quality link farms, paid for links and link networks. These “spam” type links attempt to “coax” Google into giving them a higher page rank by artificially ramping up a website’s authority with the sheer number of these links, and Google has gone after them with a vengeance!

The new Google is all about quality – content quality and link quality as they set about cleaning up the relevance of search results. So for us SEO’s who follow Google’s guidelines to get our clients websites ranking the right way, we couldn’t be happier.

But there is a problem…

There are a few honest website owners out there who have had a warning from Google to say that they’ve detected spammy or malicious links pointing to their website. Perhaps they’ve used an aggressive SEO strategy to boost page rank themselves or hired an SEO Company to do it for them. In the past, this kind of practice has been acceptable, but it’s not anymore. There have been a lot more of these warnings issued by Google recently following the changes in their ranking algorithm.

Now if you have noticed a fall in page rank for the keywords you’re targeting, been the victim of a negative SEO campaign (yes, this still happens) or had a warning from Google then it’s worth checking where your backlinks are coming from.

You should check them if in the past you’ve had links from:

  • Blog commenting
  • Forum profiles
  • Blog networks
  • Or you’ve paid for links

There are others but it would be well worth the effort to check the quality of those links to see if there are any issues.

If you find that the links are causing you problems then Google is still advising you to contact the website’s owners and ask to have the link removed manually. But what if you can’t get hold of them? Cleaning up your website’s backlink profile can feel like a mission impossible.

Well, this is where the new Disavow tool could come in handy.

This new tool allows you to tell Google which links you’d like them to ignore, similar to a nofollow link. The tool itself is fairly straight forward to use, you create a list of the links you want to be ignored and paste them into the tool. However, at the moment Google is recommending that you disavow links from domains rather than actually listing individual links and this does make sense; as there’s less chance of you making the mistake of disavowing the wrong links doing it this way.

A word of warning here, though; this tool must be handled with care because if you do make a mistake it’ll do you more harm than good – only use it if you know what you’re doing.

The best advice is to make sure that all the links you get are from relevant, reputable and authoritative sources in the first place, then you don’t have to worry about getting a warning or having to use the disavow tool. I can see where Google is going with it so they must be congratulated for offering a method of recovery without having to go to them with cap in hand begging for forgiveness.

It is a new tool and one that will be improved I’m sure. Try to manually remove bad links before you use it, but it’s a tool to make webmasters and white hat SEO’s very happy indeed. Oh,  and if you would like a free backlink report to help you identify any issues let us know; we would love to help!

Tim Brown
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