By Jeet Agrawal on 23 October 2012 @ 11:35 AM.
If you’re a webmaster who has recently been hit by a negative SEO attack, then you will probably be very upset and stressed at the fact that your site has dropped its position to a great degree through no fault of your own and with no course of action available to undo the damage. At this point the recent announcement of Google’s new disavow links tool – allowing you to remove destructive inbound links that you didn’t ask for from Google’s consideration – could seem like the light at the end of the tunnel and a chance to finally redeem yourself. But how do you go about using this new tool?
When you visit the page (found in Google Webmaster Tools), you will probably be encouraged by the rather simple appearance – which consists of just a single button and a text box for you to enter your site name in. Appearances can be deceiving though and it’s actually a little more complicated than it at first looks...
To get started you should of course type in the URL of your site or page, or if you rather, leave it blank and click the site to pick from one of your verified sites on webmaster tools. As you do this you’ll notice some warnings that your actions may actually harm your site’s rankings (presumably meaning you might accidentally remove a link that was giving you more juice). Ignore this if you know you want to use the service, and you’ll be given the option to upload the file – which is the point where you may be a little confused.
Note: Obviously you need to be using Webmaster tools and have a site verified to access this new feature – otherwise a competitor could just disavow all your links without your permission which would do a lot more damage than any negative SEO. All the more reason then too to make sure that you keep your login details safe!
Essentially to disavow links, you need to upload a plain text file that includes a simple list of the links you want to remove for that URL. Include full addresses of the pages hosting your unwanted links on separate lines, feel free to include comments using a hash tag to indicate what you want Google’s script to ignore. Another tip is that if you want to ignore links from an entire domain (say they have site-wide links to your site) then you can just use ‘domain:’ as a prefix.
Below is an example of what your text document might look like...
# Contacted owner of example.com and requested link be taken down, had no response
# Owner of morexamplage.co.uk refuses to remove links
Now just choose the file and click submit and you can relax. Note however though that this process can take ‘several weeks’ so if you don’t notice your link climbing back up the SERPs right away don’t be too surprised. However you can be pretty certain it’s going to work fine as long as you’re playing by the rules.
Most people won’t really need to use the hash tag when submitting their links – most of this process is carried out automatically with no human involvement so it’s unlikely anyone’s going to read it. However on the other hand I would recommend putting them in there anyway a) so that you can keep track yourself (I’d keep a folder of any of these files you submit) and b) because Google recommends you to try contacting the webmasters yourself first. Now I’m not sure whether or not anyone will ever check these files, but just to be on the safe side this might be a good way to show Google that you’re playing ball and that you’re listening to their advice which can only be a good thing in the long run.
Before you get trigger happy though, you need to have a long hard think about whether or not you should be using the tool at all. Firstly of course it’s important to bear in mind that there’s no way to know ahead of time whether a link is going to affect your site negatively or not, and you might be accidentally removing one that’s actually helping to boost your site. Sure your site might have dropped in the rankings, but Google has been making a lot of changes to their algorithm lately and there’s no way you can say with certainty that any one link or group of links is responsible. Pay heed to those warnings!
At the same time you also need to bear in mind some of the predictions that are being made about the way Google will use this tool – many commenters suspect that Google are going to use it as a way to find bad sites, and so by using this tool you might be essentially ‘dobbing in’ other pages (some of which might have genuinely been linking to your page with the best of intentions). Of course some people are going to use this tool to undo bad work they’ve done themselves by accident as well, so there’s some chance you’ll be putting yourself on Google’s radar in a bad way here.
My advice is to use this tool only when you have noticed a sudden and large influx of unwanted links that have badly affected you – if there’s just one or two then you may as well leave it. My other advice is to be honest and to use this only for links that are genuinely malicious – stick to the rules, don’t go crazy and you should be able to use this as a ‘get out of jail free card’ when you’re a victim of negative SEO without getting burned. Otherwise focus on delivering good content and building quality links from sites you trust and have a relationship with. As always.
This content was published by an author that has no affiliation with Clubnet Search Marketing, we will sometimes publish content from guest bloggers and the views, opinions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of Clubnet Search Marketing.