Google’s John Mueller answered a question about using the link disavow tool and offered an idea about the best method to utilize it, particularly pointing out links flagged by tools.
Although this tool was introduced 10 years ago there is still much confusion as to the proper use of it.
Connect Disavow Tool
The link disavow tool was presented by Google in October 2012.
The disavow tool followed in the wake of the Penguin Algorithm from Might 2012, which ushered in a duration of unprecedented mayhem in the search marketing community due to the fact that many people were buying and offering links.
This duration of openly buying and offering links pulled up on May 2012 when the Penguin algorithm upgrade was launched and thousands of sites lost rankings.
Getting paid links got rid of was a huge discomfort for because they had to request removal from every website, one by one.
There were a lot of link elimination requests that some site owners began charging a fee to remove the links.
The SEO community begged Google for a much easier method to disavow links and in reaction to popular demand Google released the Link Disavow tool on October 2012 for the express purpose of disavowing spam links that a website owner was responsible for.
The concept of a link disavow tool was something that had been kicking around for several years, a minimum of because 2007.
Google resisted launching that tool up until after the Penguin update.
Google’s official announcement from October 2012 discussed:
“If you’ve been informed of a manual spam action based on “abnormal links” pointing to your website, this tool can assist you attend to the problem.
If you have not gotten this alert, this tool normally isn’t something you need to stress over.”
Google also provided information of what sort of links might activate a manual action:
“We send you this message when we see evidence of paid links, link exchanges, or other link schemes that break our quality guidelines.”
John Mueller Advice on Link Disavow Tool
Mueller responded to a concern about disavowing links to a domain residential or commercial property and as a side note offered suggestions on the appropriate usage of the tool.
The concern asked was:
“The disavow function in Search Console is presently not available for domain homes. What are the alternatives then?”
John Mueller responded to:
“Well, if you have domain level verification in location, you can validate the prefix level without requiring any additional tokens.
Verify that host and do what you need to do.”
Then Mueller included an additional comment about the correct method to utilize the link disavow tool.
Mueller continued his response:
“Likewise, keep in mind that disavowing random links that look odd or that some tool has actually flagged, is not a good usage of your time.
It changes absolutely nothing.
Utilize the disavow tool for circumstances where you actually paid for links and can’t get them eliminated afterwards.”
Toxic Link Tools and Random Hyperlinks
Many 3rd party tools utilize exclusive algorithms to score backlinks according to how spammy or harmful the tool company feels they are.
Those toxicity ratings might properly rank how bad certain links seem but they do not always correlate with how Google ranks and uses links.
Toxic link tool ratings are simply opinions.
The tools are useful for generating an automated backlink evaluation, especially when they highlight unfavorable links that you thought were good.
Nevertheless, the only links one must be disavowing are the links one understands are paid for or are a part of a link plan.
Should You Believe Anecdotal Evidence of Hazardous Links?
Many people experience ranking losses and when inspecting their backlinks are stunned to find a big quantity of exceptionally low quality webpages linking to their sites.
Naturally it’s assumed that this is the factor for the ranking drops and a perpetual cycle of link disavowing commences.
In those cases it might work to think about that there is some other reason for the change in rankings.
One case that stands out is when someone concerned me about a negative SEO attack. I took a look at the links and they were really bad, exactly as described.
There were hundreds of adult themed spam links with exact match anchor text on unrelated adult subjects indicating his site.
Those backlinks fit the definition of a negative SEO attack.
I was curious so I privately got in touch with a Googler by email.They emailed me back the next day and verified that negative SEO was not the reason that the website had actually lost rankings.
The real cause for the loss of rankings was that the website was impacted by the Panda algorithm.
What set off the Panda algorithm was poor quality material that the site owner had developed.
I have actually seen this often times ever since, where the real problem was that the site owner was unable to objectively review their own content so they blamed links.
It’s helpful to remember that what seems like the obvious factor for a loss in rankings is not always the actual factor, it’s simply the easiest to blame due to the fact that it’s obvious.
But as John Mueller said, disavowing links that a tool has actually flagged and that aren’t paid links is not a great use of time.
Featured image by Best SMM Panel/Asier Romero
Listen to the Google SEO Workplace Hours video at the 1:10 minute mark