We discussed how Google has released its link disavow tool a few weeks ago and how it will be beneficial to anyone who has unknowingly hired black-hat SEO companies or who has been sabotaged by competitors. However, despite the fact that we know it will help anyone whose site was damaged after Google Penguin was released, it’s still a tool we’re going to have to master. Luckily, Matt Cutts of Google did a Q&A recently to help better our understanding of its effectiveness.
In the previous blog post, I mentioned that if you’re not absolutely certain that a link is harming you, then you had best leave it alone rather than use the disavow tool. When asked how webmasters would know which links they should remove, Cutts responded, in essence, that the ambiguity was intentional. “We provide example links to guide sites that want to clean up the bad links. At the same time, we don’t want to help bad actors learn how to spam better, which is why we don’t provide an exhaustive list,” he said.
Something he touched on that we were unsure of before was abuse of the tool. Google much prefers that webmasters contact the hosts of the bad links prior to attempting to disavow them. The interviewer asked, “…if they don’t [request a link removal from the host] and just disavow, it’s pretty much going to work, right?” Cutts responded, “No, I wouldn’t count on this…If we don’t see any links actually taken down off the web, then we can see that sites have been disavowing without trying to get the links taken down.” You hear that, webmasters? Go about it the old fashioned way, first, if you don’t want to lose your privileges.
He added that the positive effects of disavowing links could take “potentially months” to show, which is another reason it might be most effective to attempt to have the links taken down on your own first. It seems as though we still have much to learn about this new tool, and SEO enthusiasts have much to look forward to in the coming months.