Should You Use Google’s New Disavow Tool?

Should You Use Google’s New Disavow Tool?


I do have to qualify that a bit.  If your website is newish, less than two years old, you shouldn’t have to use this.  However it is worth checking what your backlink profile looks like and if there is much spam there, an easy way to check is in Google Webmaster Tools. See the full article on SEL here about the announcement from Matt Cutts on this tool.

Be an Angel with SEO back links

The History of Backlinks and the Need for this Tool

Links are the largest indicator of relevance for any website or page.  Webmasters figured this out very quickly and found ways to “game” Google.

Google also helped create this monster that they are trying to tame by launching their AdSense program, where webmasters could build websites and make, at that time, easy money from adverts.

Enter Link Farms, Crap Directories, and Article Directories

From 2006, when I first started building links, to 2008 – 2009 the use of various low level link building methods worked. And you were not doing the best for your client if you did not use something that worked and was very cost effective.

Google killed most of the low quality directories of all types, and now there are few directories I recommend that clients use, most of these are local.

The Present Link Building Methods

It has become very important, for me, to work on websites that have very good content.  Without very good content it is impossible to justify a site gaining links.  Link building methods now are more in line with the idea that Google started with.

Links as Citations

The idea behind links was academia.  Papers written in universities reference original works and works that provide further insight into the original, I remember these well from putting together bibliographies and referencing work in essays.

Good links have always been important and more so now as low quality links can lower your whole website in Google’s search results pages.

Imagine the difference between a citation from the BBC website or some website somewhere that never has any visitors and rubbish quality content.  This is how to think about links.

So What Links to Disavow

I will be exporting all historic data from Majestic, Bing and Google.  This data will be imported into Advanced Links Manager where the program will check all links to see if they still exist and if they are indexed.

If they don’t exist fine, if they are not indexed this is the first ones on the list that will be submitted to Google.

The next phase is a bit more time intensive depending of course on your knowledge of links.  I will go through the rest of the links by hand and anything that is greyed out on the PageRank tool bar will likely be on the list.

All of the old low level directories will be on the list.  Anything that is over optimising my anchor text that I cannot get changed will also be on the list.

How Long to See Results?

Google says it will take a few weeks.  Considering I have a friend who had all his sites hit by Penguin back in April and still hasn’t recovered a few weeks is not a big problem to get this rubbish removed.

If you need to do this I suggest that you do it sooner rather than later.  Webmasters and SEO’s will figure out some ways of gaming this and Google will make changes – it always happens.

Once done, build links with care using social and networking.

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Comments (7)

  • Heather Stone Reply

    Thanks for the overview. For many in the site development community, this really is a source of some concern. Everyone worries about those backlinks that don’t look quite right, but the task of figuring out which are OK and which should be disavowed can be daunting. Thanks for the push in the right direction!

    October 17, 2012 at 12:16 pm
    • Leslie Reply

      I think the people who need this know that they need it.

      There are always going to be some spam in the backlinks, people copy text and leave in links – happens all the time. Mostly I think Google knows where active back linking has been happening.

      Perhaps this best way for me to think about this is – it can hardly be seen as credible if a site gets lots of links when it gets no traffic. This I think is where social and SEO mix very well together.

      October 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm
  • David Quaid Reply

    Such an excellent question Leslie – should people indeed! We were joking on twitter that Google has effectively turned greyhats into Link Police!

    The important thing is not to panic – if you haven’t seen an unnatural links e-mail by now, you shouldn’t need it. Unless people were mass spamming directories, I would think that Google just doesn’t care. But if someone did – you might get a little notice. Even if you do get a notice, they’re sometimes sent in error / as an overccorrection.

    One thing is for sure – Google must have felt forced into this – because this does nothing for their credibility!

    (P.S. So tempting to anchor link my comment. Then I thought – maybe I shouldn’t! So I’m sending a link to Google instead!)

    October 17, 2012 at 5:52 pm
    • Leslie Reply

      I like the link to Google, maybe even start using

      I will take this opportunity to get rid of crap directories, I think most of my links are fine but some from the early days… Well we know what it was like 6 years ago.

      October 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm
      • David Quaid Reply

        You liked it – really or in a Facebook way?

        Maybe people should link to Mitt Romeny’s G+ – then we can call them completely wrong!

        October 17, 2012 at 6:06 pm
        • Leslie Reply

          It made me wonder – is it possible to spam a Google+ page and what would the result be?

          I am putting my grey hat on and heading home, no-one should still be in the office at this time.

          October 17, 2012 at 6:10 pm
  • Google Stock Drops By 9 Percent, But Mobile Earnings Grow | Small Business Trends Reply

    […] Disavowing all knowledge. We all know that linking to spam or low quality sites can be a bad idea for any online business. This is partly because visitors will judge your site by the resources to which you link, and also because connecting to such locations can drag your site down in the eyes of the search engines. Unfortunately, now a similar thing can happen when spammers link to you. Here’s what to do about it. Cube Online Marketing […]

    October 19, 2012 at 9:30 am

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