It’s safe to say that most of us have a classic love-hate relationship with Google. On one hand, the behemoth search engine is our lifeline for internet traffic. On the other hand, it’s constantly changing, and over the last few years it hasn’t exactly made search engine optimization easy. The Panda and Penguin updates have SEO practitioners reeling as they see their old link building tactics becoming useless (and in many cases, harmful)… which leaves many of us wondering what to do next.
But recently, Google has done something to make our lives a little easier. They’ve given us a little early Christmas present, and I’m here to tell you how to use it and why you should be thankful for it.
The Bad Link Problem
In April of this year, Google made an algorithm update that may have affected most of your websites. This Penguin update began penalizing sites for links of low quality. Well, if you are one of those who once subscribed to the “get as many links as you can” philosophy, odds are you have at least a few links out there pointing back to you from websites that Google has now deemed to be spammy. The result? Lowered rankings.
After the update took effect, SEO enthusiasts realized the need to get rid of these bad inbound links. Unfortunately, most efforts proved unsuccessful. Think about it, if you spent countless hours link building, how difficult would it be to research all your old links and get them removed? To do this, you’d basically have to contact the owner of the site that hosted your link and ask them (or threaten them) to remove it. As you can imagine, the percentage for success here was slim to none. What motivation would a website owner have to put in the extra work to remove your links?
Luckily, Google heard the SEO cries and left us a present under our tree: the Disavow Links Tool.
What You Should Know
The Google Disavow Links Tool is a way for webmasters to tell Google, “Hey, see these sketchy links? I don’t want them anymore!” You basically point out your bad links and Google stops counting them as votes to your site. Sounds great, right? Well, it is. But here are a few things you need to understand:
- Do your homework—Google has been careful to issue words of caution on the new tool. They are clear that if you don’t properly research your links, you could end up doing more harm than good for your site. Think about it…what if you remove links that Google isn’t really penalizing you for? It could have a reverse effect.
- Be careful who you give access—Power in the wrong hands could be the death of you. Make sure only the most trusted individuals have access to this tool, as someone could do real harm if they logged in and started disavowing all of your links.
- Bing has a tool, too—Don’t forget about the other search engine. Bing actually released their own tool before Google.
Have you started using Google’s Disavow Links Tool? How’s it going? Tell me about it in the replies.