With the recent changes that have been taking taking place at Google, namely the ‘Penguin’ and ‘Panda’ algorithm updates, many webmasters have found that inbound links which once aided SEO efforts are now a hindrance which can severely harm a site’s search ranking. Thankfully, Google recently released a ‘disavow links tool’, which allows webmasters to request (note: not demand) that the search giant ignores certain inbound links when considering a site’s positioning within it’s search results. Those with their finger on the pulse will know that Bing has had such a tool for a while now, but hey, better late then never, right?
With the introduction of this new tool, Google has been pretty explicit that such a measure shouldn’t be taken lightly, with several caution screens standing between the user and the act of disavowing links. Google has stated that this tool should only really be considered by those whom have received a message in their inbox, informing them that their site is being negatively impacted by spammy, low quality links. That said, if you confident that your site is being harmed by such bad links, then it may be worth using the tool, although Google has said that they only consider the disavow links tool as a ‘strong suggestion’ and they may consequently ignore requests if they believe such changes to be of little purpose.
The actual process of disavowing links is relatively simple, but before you start adding lines of code to your site, you’re best off making a list of the domains which you feel are harming your Search Engine Optimisation capabilities. Once you have a assembled a black list, then proceed to Google’s disavow links page. After working your way through a series of disclaimers (which we advise you don’t take too lightly), Google will request a list of the links which you wish to disavow from your site. Again, we have to stress that you are sure that want a link to disappear, as it is far harder to re-list a link. Once you have entered all of the sites which you wish for Google to ignore, then Google will provide you with a small file to download containing the relevant code along with all the links you wish to disavow. Double check the text within the file to make sure that it’s doing what you intent it to do, and then its a simple case of uploading the file to your site.
It’s worth noting that the changes won’t be reflected right away, with Google stating that the process can take a few weeks, so don’t rush to disavow more links if you’re initially unsatisfied with the results. The best thing you can do once you’re at this stage is to submit a reconsideration request and wait until Google re-indexes your site. This tool is by no means a silver bullet (building quality links should be a far higher priority!), but it can be useful to drop some dead weight.