External Link Removal Objective
The objective of this blog is to decide whether it is a practical and beneficial strategy to utilise Google’s disavow tool on “less authoritative” and/or “dodgy” external links. Hopefully by the end of the document, you will have a clearer indication of whether or not the disavow tool is a viable option for your website.
What Is the Disavow Tool?
Google’s disavow tool is a new service provided by Google that is available in Google Webmaster Tools to allow Webmasters more control over the external links that point towards their domain. The tool allows Webmasters to remove external links that they perceive to be “unnatural links”, and can be classified as “spam” or bad neighbourhoods. The underlying motivation of the disavow tool is to provide webmasters with greater control of their external linking activities, and to reduce the opportunities based around Negative SEO (competitors deliberately harming your website’s profile).
A key point to remember is that this tool is not directly linked from your Webmaster Tools account, but you have to be logged in as the “owner” to use the tool. Once logged into Google Webmaster Tools, you should type in the following URL to access the tool: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main
Why Is The Tool Important?
The introduction of any tool created by Google and implemented into the public domain is highly important as it is a strong hint/ recommendation on their intended or present algorithm practices. Therefore, the new disavow tool should be treated as a serious indication that Google are looking to finally “end the war” on dodgy external linking practices.
This disavow tool is undoubtedly even more important than some other recent services offered by Google, as “external links” have been a well-known signal that search engines utilise in order to rank results.
Who Should Use The Tool?
Google have clearly indicated that the disavow tool should only be used as a cautious mechanism and only advanced webmasters should consider using the tool. The most prominent group to use the disavow tool should be:
Webmasters who have received a message from Google highlighting their “unnatural links”. This message is communicated through Google Webmaster Tools.
Webmasters who have previously been involved in bad linking practices and now want to rectify their profile by removing evidence of this activity.
Webmasters who believe that they have been targeted by competitors sending them unnatural links to penalise their website. This is known as “negative seo”.
Webmasters who want to remove backlinks from bad neighbourhoods such as adult-related, hacking, or pornographic websites.
Why Should You Use The Tool?
Google have clearly indicated publically the specific link schemes that they’ve been looking to penalise over the last few months. The following are examples of a selection of bad links that can negatively affect your site’s rankings:
The purchasing or selling of links that is specifically in place to pass “PageRank”. This is known as paid links, and has been one of the most common and unethical practices over the Internet for years. These links can include exchanging money for links, exchanging goods/ services for links, or offering free product reviews.
Excessive link exchange programmes. This is where one website will link to another website in a mutual exchange of external links.
Building partner pages with the intent of manipulating PageRank through the use of cross-linking.
The utilisation of automated (bot) activity that creates a large number of low-quality links.
The passing of PageRank of ‘text advertisements’.
Low-quality submissions to directories, social bookmarking sites, and article directories.
Providing embedded widgets, embedded players, sponsored WordPress themes, and other activity that distributes the same links and content across a multitude of websites.
The distribution of a large number of footer links; examples can include “website powered by ”.
Forum comments with links in the signature.
This blog is aimed to highlight the advantages and disadvantages of using the disavow tool, and what it is aiming to achieve. Whether or not your specific website should implement a disavow link strategy is ultimately on a case-by-case basis. If you want further information regarding whether you think your website should use this service, then please get in touch via the contact page or the form to the top right of this page.