After much anticipation, Google has finally launched their new “disavow links” tool, which can be found at Google Webmaster tools. But even as Google’s head of web spam announced the tool, he also warned that it should be used with caution, and that if publishers are concerned about links pointing at them, they should first try contacting site owners, hosting sites, or companies they have purchased links through.
The tool will work by listing URLs in a text file individually, or to exclude all links from a specific site, with this format: domain:google.com; domain:yahoo.com; or domain:facebook.com. You’ll find more information on the format as well as the tool itself on the Google blog. After you’ve created the text file, then access the disavow link tool and go through the steps and submit your site.
Disavow and Wait
It can take weeks for Google to actually discount the links submitted via the tool. Not only that, but if Google doesn’t trust them, they reserve the right not to use the submission at all. On the bright side, if you feel you have made some mistakes in your file, you can download it, make changes, then resubmit. The best advice is to make sure you don’t make mistakes in the first place. Re-avowing can significantly add to the time it takes to process your file.
Who Needs To Disavow Links?
Who should use the new “disavow links” tool? It’s mostly intended for those who got hit hard by Google’s Penguin Update, which impacted web sites that gained links thorough spamming or by purchasing them. After Penguin, there was concern among some who wanted to discount bad links, and others worried about intentional “negative SEO.” Businesses sprang up charging to remove links. Then Google released new link warnings that were confusing and didn’t clarify if there was a problem that needed to or could be fixed. Panic ensued.
Of course, Google is largely responsible for the need for a “disavow links” tool in the first place. When they started considering bad links as a negative factor, which launched concerns about “negative SEO.” By offering the tool, Google is allowing webmasters to indicate to Google which links should be ignored, and according to Matt Cutts, “the vast majority of webmasters don’t need to worry about negative SEO at all.” Therefore, I would like to thank Google for helping out those hit by Penguin as a result of bad links or participating in link spamming. However for all the webmasters who never participated in link spamming, my advice for you is to concentrate on providing substantial, unique content and ethical SEO practices, and you may never need to worry about using this tool.
For more information, here’s a video about the new Google disavow links tool http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=393nmCYFRtA