Over the last week or so, there has been a fair amount of hype in the SEO industry over the newly released Google Link Disavow Tool. There are a number of good articles out there going into detail on the ins and outs of this tool, but I thought a quick summary highlighting the main aspects would be of value.
What Is It?
In a nutshell, the tool allows you to disavow any links to your site that you don’t trust or that you feel are negatively affecting your website. This, however, comes with a big disclaimer from not only Google, but pretty much everyone in the SEO industry. This tool could have disastrous consequences for your website if used incorrectly.
As with most things, Google will never provide you with any detailed information around which links they see as negatively affecting your website. You may get a warning letter from Google, and only if you are lucky, this may include an example of which links are harming your organic performance. You will still need to do an in depth analysis of your backlink profile, this will enable you to identify your good quality backlinks and separate them from your low quality backlinks…no mean feat. And what’s more, if this is done incorrectly you could seriously damage your organic search performance.
How Does It Work?
You log into your webmaster tools account with owner level access, and then navigate to the disavow links page . Once there select your URL.
You will then need to upload a plain text file containing any links you want to disavow, as well as any comments. You have 3 basic options in setting up this text document:
- Use “#” for comments
- Use full URLs on their own line to block a specific page
- Use "domain:" followed by a root or sub-domain to entirely block it
Again, handle this process with care, and if you don’t understand anything 100%, rather don’t do it.
The Disavow Tool – What’s In Store For Us?
No one is quite sure at this stage what kind of an impact this new tool will have, and there are a number of conspiracy theories going around suggesting Google is using this tool to increase their data. This with the view to using webmasters to gather lists of dodgy links for them.
Bing has had a similar tool up and running since July this year and there has been some pressure on Google to follow suite, it seems they may have taken this to heart. There have been growing concerns over the last few years that negative SEO might become a real problem for webmasters and Google alike. Negative SEO is the process of building low quality and harmful links pointing at your competitor websites with the aim of getting them penalised or devalued in the organic rankings. Arguably Google could deal with this algorithmically but the disavow tool goes someway to giving webmasters some control if they find themselves the target of such an attack.
Webmaster and SEOs have been asking Google for some sort of control over their link profiles for some time. Whether this tool is the answer people have been looking for remains to be seen. Google’s Link Disavow Tool looks like a step in the right direction, but, in summary and I reiterate, must be used with extreme caution.