To Disavow or Not to Disavow, That is the Question
October 22, 2012
It’s been all the buzz in the SEO world for the past few months. This week, Google released its Disavow tool, to the excitement of many SEO’s all around the world. By now, I’m sure you are asking, “What the heck is she talking about? What is a Disavow tool?” Before I can answer that, I need to give you a quick history lesson. Google’s Penguin algorithm update, which rolled out 6 months ago, focused on penalizing websites for bad links. “Bad links” are defined as any link that points to your website that does not align with, or properly represent, your products and/or your website. Links from link schemes, link farms, or overall spammy links have come under the scrutiny of Google’s eye. Google takes these links into account when determining page rank and over website quality. Ahem, let’s get back on track, “what is the Disavow tool”, you ask!? Drum roll please. The disavow tools offers Webmasters control over these links. It allows these links to be discounted when Google crawls your site. As you would suspect, this tool comes with many warnings, and states:
“This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.”
So, what does this mean for you? Don’t begin Disavowing links before you really know that you have a problem. As stated above, Google is extremely intuitive and knows which links to count, and those to discount, but it’s an algorithm and so in some cases could get it wrong. Only if you are certain that a link is affecting your rankings should you ever submit it with the Disavow tool. Once submitted, it could take several months for Google to actually discount a specific link. Hurry up and wait, right!?
To sum up: This Disavow tool was expected to be the answer to many prayers, but you should certainly proceed with extreme caution. Otherwise, you could end up causing more problems for your site in the long run.
I will leave you with this, “If you don’t know how, don’t Disavow!” 😉 Have a great week, SEO-ers!