Google’s New Disavow Tool

SEO | 17th October 2012 | mark

Not wanting to miss out on the party I thought I would jot my thoughts down about the new Google Disavow tool.

Since the Penguin update link profiles have come under the spotlight quite a lot. Webmaster Tools have been issuing unnatural link warnings and people have generally been in a panic over the whole thing for a while now.

My stance on it is, that if you haven’t got the spammy links in the first place then you won’t have been affected. That said, there are people affected and here are my thoughts.

What Is the Google Disavow Tool?

Not wanting to go down the same route as every other blog post I have read today which has pretty much just repeated what Search Engine Land and our old friend Matt Cutts have said, I will explain it quickly.

The general consensus after the Penguin update was to remove all bad links from your website. People have been scrambling around trying to get links removed with Im guessing not much success for the majority. Google has now developed a tool within Webmaster Tools so that you can tell Google which links to ignore.

When I first heard about it I thought it was a really good idea until I started to really think about it. If this tool does exactly what it says on the tin then it could potentially cause a lot of damage to the web.

Past Users Hurting Your Website

This one was suggested by Jamie my Web Marketing Manager and is genius if you are UN ethical. How many Webmaster Tools accounts do people still have access to that they shouldn’t? Think of all of the companies who have used SEO agencies in the past and then have forgotten to remove them from their Webmaster Tools account.

These old SEO companies could quite easily jump into Webmaster Tools and submit a Disavow file and basically kill all your links instantly – especially if they are now working for one of your direct competitors.

Making It Available To Non Power Users

Matt Cutts says in his video that this tool is for power users only. If he thinks for one second that that warning will stop your average user he is sadly misguided. What will happen then is that people will start Disavowing all over the show.

A lot of people will not know a good link from a bad link so could be killing a perfectly good link. If a few people do this then that link will no longer count so anybody out there who has a link from a disavowed site will inadvertently be affected also.

To really stop this happening Google should just say Ãhey guys these are your bad links kill them. They won’t say that because they don’t know themselves and are hoping the actions of users will help to highlight bad links.

Negative SEO

Google keeps saying that Negative SEO is hard work yet they have just provided a tool for anybody wishing to attack a site to use. How many black hat companies out there have thousands of websites with thousands of webmaster tool accounts that could pick on one site and pretty much kill it over night?

Negative SEO is worrying enough so by providing this tool they are just opening the flood gates to a whole other industry.

SEO Debate

There has also been a lot of talk within the SEO community about these unnatural link warnings in that, some people believe that these warnings are nothing more than a way for Google’s Spam team to find out which sites people believe to be bad.

When they get a reasonable number of people suggesting a site they then manually penalise those sites thus affecting anybody else who has links from them. It’s a very clever way of detecting sites if you ask me.

Have people been ignoring these warnings as a result of knowing this is (allegedly) happening? If so is the Disavow tool just another way for Google to get a list of all possible spammy sites to manually penalise?

To pull it all together

I for one will not be recommending that any of our clients use this tool as it is simply too dangerous. Instead my recommendation would be to block any access to webmaster tools accounts for anybody who shouldn’t have access, perform a manual link audit and continue to manually remove any links that blatantly stand out from the crowd as being bad.

Do your best using this method and just leave the ones you can’t get removed quickly. I am a firm believer in linking your way out of a bad situation. If Google can see that you are making an effort by continuing to build quality links then surely it must reward these efforts.

Surely this must be a better use of time than wasting it contacting webmaster after webmaster asking to get links removed and then finding out that the site is a dead end.

If Google truly want to stop link spam then they should just publish their list of bad links and people will stop using them. Simple.

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