Yesterday I wrote about how Google was broken. Today, I’m writing about how they added a bandage called Google’s Disavow Tool (October 16th, 2012). Since the Penguin update, how site’s are affected by links has changed. Before Penguin links couldn’t hurt your site’s rankings. Worst case scenario links would get ignored. Now after Penguin, Google looked at links as either positive or negative influences on rankings. This opened the door for negative SEO where you could actively create negative links and get a site wiped from the Google search results. It is really dangerous for small businesses whose sites have only a handful of links. If a competitor wanted, they could easily create thousands of spam links to the small business’s site and poof bye-bye competition.
So what is the Google Disavow Tool?
The Disavow Tool allows site owners to make links that could be negatively impacting their sites index,no follow. This would mean for the most part the links would be ignored. Users can create a file with a list of links they wish to remove that can be upload via Google’s Webmaster’s Tools. The links can be single links from another site or entire domains. The format is simple each line of the file contains one link. To remove an entire domain the command domain:example.com can be used to remove all links from example.com. You can need comment the document using hashtags # where you can explain your efforts to clean up the links. For the most part these comments will be ignored. the file is upload Google says it that it will generally take 3 weeks for this disavow request to impact a site’s rankings.
Problems with the disavow tool
The biggest problem with the tool is that Google never tells you which links are good or bad, so removing links that are actually benefiting your site is a possibility as well. The question also arises that by using the tool are you basically admitting guilt of creating spam links. This could set you up for a manual ranking penalty or at a minimum some kind of review.
Personally, I believe Google should not negatively impact sites for the links they have. This whole thing makes the process of building and marketing a site more complicated and distracts people from what they really should be doing, which is to build good content sites. Adding this tool does help webmasters with the clean up process but is it really necessary for us to have to clean up at all.
Important links for Google Disavow Tool:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=393nmCYFRtA (Matt Cutt’s Video on Disavow)
www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main (Google Webmaster’s Tool link to where you can submit links for removal using disavow.)