Lately, I have written a lot about links and their impact on Search Engine Optimization. A topic of emphasis has been the distinction between strong, authoritative links and bad links. Strong, authoritative links are those that an actual human being has taken the time to approve. Links are also considered strong when they are included as part of the fresh content in a page. This shows the relevancy of the link to the page content that Google is looking for. Bad, weak links are those that are automatically created with no human intervention or quality review. These links are created mainly through software tools. They are the ones that many sites bought through a third party and were discredited through the Penguin algorithm updates.
Once Penguin was released, the page rank for sites that relied on paid, irrelevant links for a high ranking plummeted. In a previous post I explained how important it was to delink from these poor sites. Another issue I brought up was the unscrupulous strategy some site owners employed by using bad links to link to a competitors site, a strategy known as negative SEO. Googles disavow tool can help under both circumstances.
Before we continue, if you have never bought backlinks from a vendor, and do not feel you have SEO savvy competitors, you do not need to bother with the disavow link tool. This means that 99% of local small business owners do not need to read beyond this point. The disavow link tool was created for use by experienced SEO pros. This is why I am not including a link to the disavow tool in this post. Improperly used, you can cause serious damage to the SEO capabilities of your own site.
Before resorting to the disavow link tool you need, and Google emphasizes this, to use more traditional methods to delink from a poor or unauthoritative site. You do this by asking for help from the company you bought the links from, or making a request to the site owner who has linked to your website to delink. You must delink from all your bad links. For instance, if you have been buying links for three years, they all must go.
Once you have determined that your efforts to delink by traditional methods has not been effective, using the disavow link tool becomes an option. Consider the disavow link tool like chemotherapy. The results might be worth it, but the risks are high. You don not want to remove the high-quality authoritative sites that are providing "link juice" to your sites SEO. Once removed through the disavow tool, it takes quite a bit of time and effort to get them re-avowed. You can do great harm to your sites SEO by misusing the tool. Googles advice is "If you are not sure you need to use the tool, then do not".
How do you use the disavow tool? The disavow tool can be found on the Google Webmaster page. After you log into your account, you will see your site in the gray box. Click on it, and then on the "Disavow Links" box. Click on the box again after the first warning appears. Google will give you warnings on a couple of occasions that misusing this site can cause serious repercussions for your website. The next step is to upload the file of links you want to unload. The file is in text format. You can disavow an entire domain or individual pages in a site. Google handles your disavow request as a strong suggestion. They do not guarantee that your request for disavow will be honored. If the request is honored, it will be several weeks before you see any results. If you disavow a good link, you can send another text file with that link missing form the file. Re-uploading the good link can take a couple months to accomplish, so be careful what links you submit through the tool.
The disavow tool can be useful in the right situation utilized with competent hands. For most of us, the best idea is to let Google decide which links are good or bad. If you practice good SEO all the time, bad links should not be a big concern.
J.A. Moffitt is the President of Elvin Web Marketing. Elvin Web Marketing is a full service online marketing company. Whether it is getting on the first page of a Google search, improving your site content, blog writing, submitting your business to online directories, or social or email marketing, we can help! Call us at 203-882-0171. We now offer targeted ads on national websites. Visit our webpage at