If you know anything about SEO, you understand the importance of links and that the inbound links that are pointing to a website convey trust to Google. However, that’s really a simplified version of the truth. The value that Google has placed on links has evolved over the years. Once upon a time it was believed that any link was a good link that would help boost the ranking of a website, which is why so many low quality directories, link farms, and link buying practices came into existence. Over time, the Google ranking algorithm has evolved and all links aren’t created equal. In fact, many of these low quality links can now result in a penalty. The link building focus has shifted from getting “any link” to getting links from relevant industry sites that target audience members actually visit and can generate traffic.
As Google has become more serious about handing out penalties and making drastic algorithm changes like the Panda update and the Penguin update that punish sites that publish poor content and use outdated and black hat SEO tactics, a number of websites have been affected. In some cases the website owner may be to blame, but in others they might not be. For example, maybe a website owner unknowingly hired an SEO firm that was black hat or was the victim of negative SEO. Website owners have long believed that it was unfair to be punished for this and wanted a way to tell Google what really happened.
With the release of the Google tool to disavow links, website owners finally have a way to tell Google to “ignore” certain inbound links pointing to their site. While this may seem like a great, easy way to get your rankings back up it’s important to consider the facts. This isn’t a seamless process that every website owner should partake in. In fact, if you are a novice at SEO it’s best that you don’t even consider it. Stop reading this article right now and spend your time doing something else. The Google disavow tool is really only for experienced SEOs to consider using.
Google has made a point to tell website owners that the disavow tool should only be used as a last resort and isn’t a magic fix to having a bad link portfolio. Google has also stated that the vast majority of websites don’t need to use it and still recommends taking the manual approach to removing links first. This means reaching out to website owners and asking that links be removed. Every website is bound to have a few bad links so as long as the good outweigh the bad the disavow tool probably isn’t needed. Using the disavow tool may end up hurting more than helping if you unknowingly remove links that were actually beneficial.
The main reason that most website owners should stay away from the tool is because there are still many questions surrounding it. For example, does Google consider the data from each site the same way? If a site that is trusted disavows a bunch of links, is it no longer trusted? Does that raise a red flag to Google that may have otherwise thought that there was nothing wrong with your site? What it comes down to is that this is a very new release from Google and it’s best to see how things play out before starting to test it on your own site.
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Image: Disavow Stamp by Shutterstock