We’ve been hearing rumors for quite some time about Google working on a project to help combat negative SEO — and now, they’ve finally released the disavow tool to allow webmasters to take control of their backlink profiles. Since the most recent algorithmic updates by the search engine giant, a lot of webmasters and SEO specialists have been struggling to rank their websites in organic search results. Google’s Panda and Penguin update revolutionized search engine results by targeting and removing low quality websites from their index (or at the very least demoting SE rankings); these updates were made possible by the knowledge graph.
Although Google succeeded at removing low quality websites from search engine rankings, not everyone saw the Panda or Penguin update as a step in the right direction. Many marketers and SEO specialists criticized Google for these updates mainly due to the fact that their websites were affected — however, Google’s mission is to provide the most relevant search results to their users; they don’t cater to webmasters using spammy link building techniques to artificially rank their websites. Google believed (and does to this day) that their Panda and Penguin updates ultimately enhanced their search results and continued updates will only help to provide a better user experience.
Unfortunately, with these Google updates also came the idea of negative SEO — a tactic used by people to manipulate and lower the search engine rankings of their competitors. Anyone could point thousands of spammy links to a website and drastically drop their rankings and in some cases even get them de-indexed from the search engine altogether. The internet community was convinced that Google did not take into account negative SEO when developing their algorithm, especially for non-authority websites as many authentic webmasters fell prey to negative SEO.
With the announcement of the new disavow tool, SEO specialists are rejoicing at the fact that they can “disavow” their spammy backlinks — while others are claiming that the tool is useless and that Google should automatically disavow any links they believe to be spammy. In either case, webmasters now have complete control over their backlink profiles from within Webmaster Tools — making negative SEO harder but not impossible.
So, what does the disavow tool do actually? Well, it doesn’t actually “delete” the links that you submit but it does set them to
nofollow so they have no direct impact on your SE rankings. In fact, Matt Cutts of Google recommends that you should try and manually remove as many links as possible before submitting any of your low quality links to the disavow tool. The tool was officially made available in WMT on October 16, so there are no reports yet as to how it performs (or if it even works). We will be doing a follow-up post in a few weeks regarding the effectiveness of the tool.
To learn more about the disavow tool, check out Official Google Webmaster Central Blog or watch the video by Google engineer Matt Cutts below. Comment below to share your opinion on the disavow tool.