Overview of Google’s Disavow Tool

Not so long ago, Google offered webmasters no way of excluding certain links from affecting their rankings. But in a world where links are considered the bread and butter of increasing your website’s rankings, why would anyone want to choose to disallow certain links from having an effect?

In a nutshell, Google is now far more clued up about links that it considers have been acquired dubiously at best. Exact match anchor texts included within completely unrelated blog-posts, links from known link merchants and even certain directory links can nowadays all have a negative effect on your website’s organic rankings.

Just recently, a large number of industry professionals urged Google to provide webmasters with a means of discounting dubious links. Not only would such a tool allow webmasters to put right what was once considered common practice amongst many in the SEO industry, but it would also provide a barrier against malicious link spammers who might seek to direct low quality links to your website (otherwise known as negative SEO).

The answer: Google Disavow Links Tool, which allows web masters to filter out unwanted links to their website.

Only webmasters who receive “unnatural link” notification messages in Webmaster Tools will have any need to use the tool. Users who have previously purchased links will invariably receive such a message, but so too will those who have unwillingly fallen victim to link spam or otherwise received a “bad” link.

Google first recommends that you contact the website in question and kindly ask them to stop linking to your site. Of course, in reality this will not necessarily be enough. So the second step is to use Google’s new tool, which can be accessed through Webmaster Tools.
Unfortunately there is no in-built interface where users can simply cancel out unwanted links. Instead, Google has opted for an upload system. Users are prompted to upload a text file containing a list of links that they wish to disavow. The format is simple enough: each line in the text file contains a URL that you wish to disavow. It is worth noting that Google currently accepts only one disavow file per site, therefore you will need to work from one master file and re-upload this each time you wish to update the list.

Ultimately, webmasters who have not purchased links or engaged in any questionable link building schemes will have little to worry about. But in a world where competition is rife, the ability to fight back against would-be malicious black hat SEO types is certainly a welcome one.



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