After months of denying/downplaying the impact of Negative SEO, Google today has launched a new and widely anticipated disavow links tool. The tool was announced by Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s web spam, at today’s keynote at the Pubcon conference, implicitly proving the existence of Negative SEO. The new Google disavow links tool is live and can be used now.
New Disavow Tool: What Does It All Mean?
My take on the new disavow tool:
- Proves that Negative SEO is a Real Issue: Obviously (duh!). Otherwise why would Google roll out such a tool. Not all webmasters are sophisticated enough to use the disavow tool to disavow links. Unscrupulous SEOs could target unsuspecting, competing websites with devastating effect.
- Creates Moral Hazard: The disavow links tool is a get-out-of-jail-free card for any spammy SEO tactics that have fallen out of favor in Google’s eyes. The risk of engaging in black-hat or grey-hat tactics are significantly reduced because if a grey/black-hat link scheme ends up going badly, the damage can now be so easliy undone. We wonder what counter-measures are being taken to mitigate abuse, if any.
- Link Clean-Up Still Nearly Impossible: For example, the link profile for my website contains millions of backlinks from thousands of different domains. Trying to find the spammy URL’s/domains in the pile is akin to finding the proverbial needle in a haystack. And that's probably their goal -- Google will give us the ability to disavow a link, but not the ability to figure out which ones are the spammy ones that are hurting our link profile (otherwise it would be too easy!).
Who Should Use The Disavow Links Tool and When?
Matt Cutts warned that the new Disavow Links tool should be used with extreme caution to avoid potential damage. He also said that publishers should first try to remove links they are concerned about by working with the site owner hosting the links or with companies they may have purchased links through.
While you might be tempted to delete the spammy links in your link profile, it's very hard to know exactly which links are the spammy ones that are hurting your account (unless, of course, know because you placed them there yourself in the first place). Since I have no reason to believe that my website is being penalized, I'm not going to use this Disavow Links tool for now! Plus, Matt Cutts said 10+ times in the video not to use the tool, which makes me wonder why this tool even exists.
How Does the Disavow Links Tool Work?
A website owner can disavow either individual URL’s or entire domains, specified in a text file which is uploaded to Google Webmaster Tools.
What Happens After I Disavow My Links?
According to Matt Cutts, the process of Google discounting the links to your site won’t be immediate, and could take weeks to take effect.
Using the disavow tool is the same as using the “nofollow” attribute, which allows sites to link to other sites without passing ranking credit to those sites.
Google also reserves the right not to use the submissions if it feels there’s a reason not to trust them. We wonder what else they're doing with this data. For example, compiling a list of SEO's with guilty consciences?
Were Can I Get More Information on the Google Disavow Tool?
For more information on the new disavow links tool, please see:
- The Google help page about the Disavow tool
- The official announcement the new Disavow Links tool on the Google Webmaster Central blog.
- A 10-minute video of Matt Cutts talking about the new tool, also embedded below.
What's Your Take on the New Disavow Links Tool?
Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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