Around mid October 2012, Google launched a disavow tool which would enable webmasters clean up their site linking profile. This is a much awaited tool because the Penguin update has reduced traffic to some sites to pretty much nothing and the algorithm behind it is purely related to bad links pointing to your site. Many business owners have tried to get those unworthy links removed and although that’s a lot of hard manual work, there are things which are not in your control like no response from webmasters of low quality directories. Many people have seen this as an opportunity to make money as well because the demand to remove links grew a lot. Some site owners were charging $20 to get a single link removed from one directory and that’s a hefty price to pay because you initially got 1000 links for $5 and if you were to remove them all, that would now cost you $20,000. Yes, you shouldn’t have bought the low quality links in the first place but all I’m saying is that when people know they can rip you off, they certainly will.

Anyway, some site owners have tried everything they could to get all their bad links removed but they as expected, not all of them were successful in having 100% of the low quality backlinks taken off. With the introduction of the Google Disavow Tool however, a webmaster is able to make a text file containing links they would not vouch for, that is, links they would not want their site associated with. You would need to have  a Google Webmaster Tool account where the site in question has been verified. You would then create a text file (name it whatever you want) and add the bad links in it. An example of such a file is as follows:

http://badwebsite.com/badpage.html

domain:spamwebsite.com

As you can see, the contents of the text file contains 2 entries. The first one is a specific URL and the second one tells Google to ignore all backlinks from spamwebsite.com. I would advise you to use specific URLs instead of banning whole domains because Google would need to recrawl the webpages where you have the backlinks before flagging them as being ignored for link calculation. If you were to use the domain operator, it would take much more time for Googlebot to find the page where you have the bad link.

Another point worth mentioning is that the disavow tools serves as a strong signal to Google just like the canonical tag which means, it is really up to Google to use this preference/indication you’ve given them. In most cases, they would use it though but if they believe you’re shooting yourself in the foot, then they might ignore some/all links in your disavow file. Please also note that you would need to wait first for Google to recrawl all those links you’ve specified as not wanting to be used for link analysis and then wait for another Penguin update to see whether it works for you or not.

I’ve myself tried this with an exact match domain (EMD) that contained 60 odd links from article directories out of a total of 70 backlinks. If that works, it’s going to be really awesome. I also think that Google will use the contents of the disavow tool to better understand what sort of sites are spammy in nature. For example, if a lot of webmasters are putting the same site (spammy.com) as an entry in their disavow file, then surely Google will treat spammy.com as spammy due to the sheer amount of votes. This can also mean competitors can list your white hat site in their disavow file and get you penalised. Might need to dig more into this but later…

17/Nov/2012

Posted in: SEO

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3 Comments
  • Luvnish A.T
    January 30, 2013 @ 6:42 am

    I doubt the method you suggested would cause you to get penalised by Google. If a competitor website wants to sucker punch you, he’ll simply register your website and a dozen of those spammy websites. Google, seeing links to your page from those pages, would conclude that you’re engaging in malicious ways to get ranked – you get dragged down the ranks.

    Reply
    • gices
      March 16, 2013 @ 8:00 am

      Thanks for dropping by.

      What you’re talking about is negative SEO which is a major concern since the Penguin update has rolled out but in my opinion that only affects new sites or sites which don’t have a strong varied link profile. Older sites with more trust are less susceptible to this.

      Reply
  • Luvnish A.T
    January 30, 2013 @ 6:57 am

    *on a dozen of those spammy..
    my bad. typo.

    Reply
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