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Google’s New Disavow Tool: Why and How to Use it

Much to the excitement of webmasters who have been antagonized by Google Penguin, Google has made a peace offering: its new disavow tool. As you probably know, the reason so many sites are losing their formerly prestigious search engine rankings is due, in large part, to mass quantities of low-quality backlinks. Now, webmasters have been given the option to disavow these links and redeem themselves.

Anyone who has, intentionally or unintentionally through SEO services companies, been sucked into the world of link spam has probably seen a message from the ever-watchful Google that points out the unnatural links – which could be paid-for, created in link exchanges, or the result of some such link scheme – which offend Google’s standards of quality; the message recommends the links be removed, or disavowed, ASAP. It’s Google’s way of keeping its results useful, its users happy, and your reputation clean.

Without further ado, let’s discuss how to use this new disavow tool. The steps are fairly straightforward:

  • Start by visiting Google’s Disavow Links page. You’ll be shown a text box where you can insert your website’s URL. Then press the ‘disavow links’ button.
  • You’ll then see a prompt to upload a file that contains the links you’d like to disavow. A plain text file with one URL on each line will work fine.
  • You can use the prefix domain:http://www…. to remove all links from one site, or
  • Enter the URLs of specific pages on a site with no prefix.
  • Only one disavowal document per website is allowed at the current time, but it can be modified and re-uploaded. It must be less than 2MB in size.

The process itself is incredibly manageable; the most intricate aspect is deciding which links should be disavowed and which should not. Google representatives recommend that prior to requesting that links be disavowed, webmasters attempt to have the links removed organically by contacting the hosts of each link. Google webmasters are able to gather whether or not the organic approach has been endeavoured and may use this information to decide whether or not to carry out the disavow process. The tool is in place not as an easy fix, but as a result of some webmasters charging a fee or being unresponsive when asked to remove backlinks.

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