A lot has been happening on the Google front over the last couple of months – especially when it comes to backlinks. With the Panda and Penguin updates now in full swing, it has become more important than ever that your backlinks come from sources that are above board and unimpeachable.
In short that means no paid links, no links from link farms, no ‘spam’ links, and no links from websites with low quality content. Unfortunately, many websites out there do have links from dubious sources – maybe because of some SEO service that they hired that decided a link spam was the best way to get fast results, or maybe because of sabotage by their competitors.
Whatever the case, if you’ve received a message through Google’s Webmaster Tools regarding ‘unnatural links’ pointing to your website or even if you just want to be safe – this new disavow links tool is absolutely essential.
What Does It Do?
Long story short, the Google Disavow Links Tool allows you to tell Google that you are not responsible for those dubious links and provide them with a list of the links that you’d like to be ignored completely.
Just to clarify, by ‘ignored completely’ this means that you won’t get any value from the links but they won’t be counted against you either and so you’ll avoid a Panda or Penguin smack down.
As useful as the new tool is, it is not meant to be the first port of call when you discover that there are some dodgy links pointing to your website. Instead, Google would like you to try to remove any backlinks that you do not like manually – before using the disavow tool as a final resort.
How To Use This Tool?
To disavow links properly while keeping in mind that it should be the last possible option – here’s the best way to use it:
- Find the ‘Links to Your Site’ section in Google Webmaster Tools (it should be under the ‘Traffic’ menu).
- Once there, download a list of the pages linking to your site by heading over to ‘Who Links the Most’ and then ‘More’.
- Go over the links and scrutinize them for any websites that may be suspect.
- Attempt to contact those websites and have them take down the backlinks in question.
- List down all the websites that do not take down your links after a reasonable amount of time has passed (a couple of weeks should be enough).
- Upload the list via the Google Disavow Links Tool.
The format is straightforward. You just need to upload a plain text file with one URL per line. This is an example taken from Official Google Webmasters Central Blog:
# Contacted owner of spamdomain1.com on 7/1/2012 to
ask for link removal but got no response
# Owner of spamdomain2.com removed most links, but missed these
Once that is done, you should be protected from any backlash due to the potentially dodgy links that you uncovered.
Chances are you may have noticed that the hardest part of this entire process is actually investigating and analyzing your backlinks to discover which ones are dubious. It may take time to do so, especially for websites that have hundreds or even thousands of backlinks, but in the long run it is definitely preferable to being on the wrong end of Panda or Penguin.
This article is written by Akshay Jain. He represents All Covered, making business processes simple and affordable. You would like to read Paid Links Aren’t Entirely Dead – Yet! written by Akshay on HBB.