Mike Huber Answers: “Should I Use the Google Disavow Link Tool?”
Hi everybody, this is Mike from Vertical Measures, and this morning we’re going to talk about the new Google Webmaster Disavow Tool. I know a lot of webmasters have recently been hit by the Google and the Panda updates, and you may be a webmaster that has noticed a recent drop in your PageRank or your traffic. Or you may just be analyzing your backlink portfolio and trying to clean that up. I think we’re all wondering: Should we actually use the Disavow Tool?
I was recently at PubCon where Matt Cutts actually did the announcement for the new tool, and I want to walk you through some of the things about the tool and have some cautions for you about using the tool. Here we go.
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So first of all, the tool is located in the Webmaster’s Toolkit. So you’ll need to have an account. If you do, just go to Google.com/Webmasters, and then you’ll actually find the tool at Google.com/Webmasters/Tools/Disavow-Links-Main.
Once you land on the page, you’ll notice that there’s a dropdown box, and if you have multiple websites, you just select the site that you’re working on. Then next to that you’ll notice a big red button where you can actually upload a CSV file of the links that you’d like to disavow.
But there’s a big caution about using the tool. In fact, Matt Cutts talked about that during the announcement. What I’d like to do right now is just read you the caution that’s on that disavow page.
It reads like this: “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 search results. We recommend that you only disavow backlinks 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.”
So that’s the caution, and these are actually three things that you ought to do before you use the tool. Number one is you want to do an analysis of your backlinks. You want to find out which links are really good that are pointing to you, and you want to find the ones that are spammy. The spammy ones are the ones that have low domain authority and have low PageRank. They may be also the sites that have Viagra and other questionable ads on them.
So once you identify the links that should be removed, prioritize them and start contacting webmasters. What we recommend is that you request that your links be taken down, and you make three attempts to those webmasters to actually have your links removed. Document everything, and if the webmasters that you’ve contacted won’t take your links down, those are the ones that you want to consider using the disavow tool for. Really, what you want to do is try to remove as many links as you can manually and use the Disavow Tool as a last resort.
So in conclusion, as a webmaster, you want to do your due diligence determining which links need to be removed, contact those webmasters, and then only use the Disavow Tool for those links where webmasters won’t respond to your requests.