By Darrell Long | SEO Innovation Lead
Google’s announcement this week of its much-anticipated Disavow Links tool marks a new era for search marketing. Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Web spam team, released a video detailing the new tool, why it was launched and its value to brands and marketers. Watch the video here.
The tool is live and can be found here.
What the Disavow Links Tool Offers Marketers
Google cautions webmasters to use the Disavow Links tool with restraint. Marketers should only use this tool if they have already reviewed their link profile and contacted the hosts of potentially harmful links pointing to their website, requesting removal of the links to no avail.How Do You Know If You Need to Disavow Links?
The Disavow Links tool will directly benefit webmasters whose websites have been impacted by Google’s latest Penguin update. If you have been creating engaging content and truly organic relevant links to your Web properties it is unlikely you will need to use this tool.
Since the release of Penguin webmasters have been trying to remove irrelevant spam links pointing to their websites. There is a percentage of links that webmasters are unsuccessful in getting removed.
If your website experienced a significant decrease in traffic around the time of Google’s Penguin updates (April 2012) the following steps are recommended:
- Conduct an audit of the links pointing to your website.
- Identify links that are considered link spam.
- Remove spam links first before using the Google Disavow Links tool.
Marketers should only use the Disavow Links tool if all other methods of removing these links have failed.
Process of Disavowing Links
The process of disavowing links to your website is fairly simple.
First, login to your Google Webmaster Tools account and navigate to the new disavow links page. You will be prompted to select the Web profile you wish to disavow links from as shown in the image below.
The format you will need to follow in the text document is a list of URLs. The list can be either individual URLs or entire domains.
Below are the formats you will want to follow within the text document.
Full domain format:
It’s important to note that before uploading the text document you should be 100 percent certain you have listed only the URLs you want to disavow. If you submit this document and later realize you made a mistake you will have to resubmit the text document, and it can take a long time before the correction is made.
After you have created the text document with all the domains and URLs you wish to disavow upload the file through the interface.
Once you have submitted your Disavow Links request it can take weeks before Google takes any action on your submission. It’s important to remember that just submitting a request doesn’t mean Google will follow all aspects of the request. Google’s Matt Cuts stated the following:
Google reserves the right to trust our own judgment for corner cases, for example — but we will typically use that indication from you when we assess links.
To read the official statement provided by Google you can read it here.
Google’s new Disavow Links tool represents an important step for brands to fight link spam. More importantly, though, it reinforces the value of content marketing for brands. Marketers who haven’t gotten on board with proactively developing content for their brand, across all relevant marketing channels, risk fighting link spam that can negatively impact their company’s reputation and affinity with customers.