Who would have ever thought webmasters would want a tool that would disavow a link that is pointing to their site? After all, a link to your site increases its popularity, in turn, increasing its ranking in Google’s search engine. If anyone “Googles” your site, you want it to end up number one in the search results. The higher your website’s ranking in search engine results, typically the more visitors it will receive. So why on Earth would anyone want to disavow a link to their site that may increase its popularity, search rankings and number of visitors? This is because low quality links actually decrease your website’s popularity and search rankings and therefore, number of visitors.
In April, Google released Penguin, an updated algorithm aimed at decreasing the search engine rankings of websites that violate their Webmaster Guidelines. Some forms of violations include the use of black-hat SEO techniques such as cloaking, keyword stuffing, duplication of content and participation in link schemes. In October, Google released the Google Disavow Link Tool in an attempt to help webmasters clean up any messy or potentially problematic links pointing to their website.
Google actually advises that the majority of websites will never need this tool. According to Google, “If you’ve been notified of a manual spam action based on “unnatural links” pointing to your site, this tool can help you address the issue. If you haven’t gotten this notification, this tool generally isn’t something you need to worry about.” Only those websites that rely heavily on SEO or that have spam link profiles will likely want to or need to use it.
Prior to using this tool, Google suggests manually cleaning up the links. They advise that the use of this tool should be a last resort. In order to access this tool, go to your Google webmaster account and click on the Disavow Links Page. From there, upload the .txt file to tell Google which links you would like to disavow. Despite how simple the Google Disavow Link Tool is to use, Google advises webmasters not to use it if you do not understand how or why it works. In fact, they go on to suggest that only advanced webmasters should use the tool. Considering all of Google’s advice, if you do decide to use this tool, Google suggests you really take your time to do the necessary research in order to use it correctly. Otherwise you may be doing your site more harm than good.
So how do you use the Disavow Link tool? It is a simple two-step process. The first step is to download a list of links to your site. You can do this by going to your Webmaster Tools home page and clicking on the site you want. Now, on the Dashboard, click “Traffic” and then click “Links to Your Site” and click “Download.” From this list, create a .txt file containing only the links (one link per line) that you would like to disavow. The second step is to upload the list of links you have just created. To do this simply go to the Google Disavow Links Tool page, select your website, click “Disavow Links” and then click “Choose File.”
Google does not guarantee that all disavow requests will be honored. For those that are, it could be several weeks to months before your site is re-indexed in the search engines without these spam links.
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