Google just rolled out the Disavow Links Tool for website owners who are concerned about low-quality links bringing down a website’s page rank (PR) value. Many interpret Google’s actions as an acknowledgement of the low-down practice of “negative SEO.”
What is negative SEO?
If links from low-quality websites can hurt a websites overall link-quality profile in the eyes of Google, then what’s stopping a morally challenged business from buying a bunch of spammy, low-quality, or even “bad neighborhood” links at pointing it at their competitor(s) websites? This has been the argument of many for awhile to Google: “How can you punish us for bad links when the practice of acquiring them is not totally within our control?”
And then there are the websites that actually pursued what we now called “spammy links” i.e. the low-quality ones that Google is now penalizing websites for. After all, not so long ago, SEO consultants were pushing obtaining links from whomever, by whatever means necessary. For its part, Google state the following in its Webmaster Guidelines: “Any links intended to manipulate website ranking in search results could be considered part of a link scheme.”
Who could forget the whole JC Penney link buying scandal?
The Disavow Link Tool would seem to be an answer to everyone’s prayers, a win-win. However, like many things Google does, the messaging surrounding when (and even if) to use it is somewhat (no, very) confusing.
What Google said:
[quote] This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.t [/quote]
- “Here’s this great new tool … but you might not want to use it.”
- And just why the eff won’t they tell you what links (in your link profile) are considered spammy?
[quote]If you’ve ever been caught up in linkspam, you may have seen a message in Webmaster Tools about “unnatural links” pointing to your site. We send you this message when we see evidence of paid links, link exchanges, or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines. If you get this message, we recommend that you remove from the web as many spammy or low-quality links to your site as possible. This is the best approach because it addresses the problem at the root. By removing the bad links directly, you’re helping to prevent Google (and other search engines) from taking action again in the future.If you’ve done as much as you can to remove the problematic links, and there are still some links you just can’t seem to get down, that’s a good time to visit our new Disavow links page.[/quote]
And if you don’t have a Google Webmaster Tool account, make sure to sign up for one.