10/26/12
Google Penguin & The Disavow Tool

broken linkIn April Google released it’s Penguin update. This was aimed at weeding out poor quality links and websites that have over optimised anchor text on the links. This has had far reaching affects both to the owners of the websites that have lost substantial traffic and the SEO industry in general.

We posted a blog in June about how to recover from the Penguin update and one of the most obvious things to do is to remove these poor links but that is easier said than done as by the very nature of these poor links you are unlikely to receive a response to any request to remove these links from the offending sites. So Google have release the disavow tool which can be found in Google Webmaster Tools and allows you to upload a list of URL’s so that any links from there will be discounted in Google’s ranking algorithm.

Good news you may say….. well yes hopefully but we can see immediately how this tool may be open to abuse.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction

Google are constantly updating their algorithms with the intention of providing their customers with the best search results possible. But for every tweak they make someone will find a way of exploiting this. Years agoNewtons Cradle when blogs first started to appear Google saw a link from a blog as being very powerful as they were seen as links coming from a site which was somebody’s personal opinion and therefore very relevant. The result of this was that a cottage industry set up with sites where you could go and buy blog posts with a link for specific anchor text on blogs with a Page Rank of your choosing – the higher the Page Rank the higher the cost of the link.

The value of a lot of these sort of links have long been discounted by Google but the Penguin update has pushed things to the next level by ensuring that these links actually poison your site. One of the main concerns about this action by Google is that it opens the door for people to negatively affect the rankings of their competitors by creating sites and creating over optimised links to their competitors sites.

The problem with the disavow tool

So Google have released a tool to help us get rid of those pesky links surely that is a good thing isn’t it? Well apart from the fact that by using this tool it could be seen as an admission of guilt by Google there are a number of other concerns within the industry. Yes you can only use the tool within Webmaster Tools where you are the verified owner of the domain so that prevents other from using the tool to discount your links but it opens the floodgates for sites that have made it easy to get back links to be penalised, web 2.0 sites, forums, blogs with open comments etc and if those sites have been penalised that bad ‘link juice’ with flow through to any sites that have links from them even if they were genuine comments, forum threads etc. It also allows for competitors to build links to their site from a site that you have links from and then disavow them and negatively affect your rankings.Google Disavow Tool

So what should I do?

In terms of your competitors using this tool and the penguin update to negatively affect your site that isn’t something you have a lot of control over and it is Googles lookout to ensure that this issue is kept to a minimum. But if you’ve received bad links warnings, been denied reconsideration or been penguinised then this tool gives you the opportunity to get things back on track, but be careful, use conservatively and only use as a last resort after the normal channels of communication to try and get the links removed have been exhausted.

If you don’t have a Webmaster Tools account which is imperative to running a healthy site, or you would like any help with any of the issues discussed here or  then give us a ring on 0115 896 7715