Not all incoming links are created equal. Anyone who runs a blog or a website knows this. If the link comes from authority sites, then a webmaster has it good, because those links will immensely help his or her site rank better. At the other end of the spectrum are links coming from low quality, low PR sites or even link farms. Since Google takes into account these kinds of links when deciding the rank and worth of any site, they could only spell trouble for a webmaster like you.
The really annoying thing about this is the fact that you can’t do anything about those links. Sure, you can shoot off emails to the webmasters of the sites that sent you those bad links and politely ask them to take those links down. You can consider yourself lucky if those webmasters are sensible enough to oblige your request. However, they can choose to just ignore you for reasons that may range from their being paid to actually send you those links as part of a negative SEO campaign to the simple fact that they are just being mean people, which the online world has boatloads of.
To help webmasters combat negative SEO, Google has developed a new tool called Disavow, and it’s supposed to work exactly as its name suggests. It gives you the ability to completely distance yourself from bad and weak links and their sources.
The Benefits of Using Google Disavow
- It allows you to report to Google any unwanted incoming links to your site.
- Once those links are reported to Google, the search engine will no longer take those links and the sites they are from into consideration when ranking your site.
- It renders any negative SEO campaign against you by competitor sites useless.
- It is a free tool.
Should You Use It?
This is one question that has yet to be answered definitively. Some webmasters, however, have already used it and came up with these downsides:
- It takes a lot of time and effort to identify bad or weak links for reporting to Google. To report those links, you will have to create and send a text file that lists all specific links or sites that you want to disavow.
- When creating the text file, you have to do it without typos or errors, or you can accidentally label a good link as a bad link. You will not be doing your site any favors if you commit these small mistakes.
- Since Disavow is a relatively new tool, there is not much data yet about its effectiveness.
If Matt Cutts of Google is to be believed, you should consider using the Disavow Links Tool only as a last resort. He adds that the Disavow tool is not for the everyday user, that only webmasters who are into hardcore SEO would be able to use it with any degree of competence and effectiveness. Use it indiscriminately, he says, and you will just be shooting yourself in the foot.