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Since Google unveiled the Disavow Tool in October of 2012, webmasters and SEOs have treated it almost like a magic cure-all for bad linking decisions, black hat SEO, and any sort of penalty they receive from Google.

Despite the obsession with the Disavow Tool, every online poll of the effectiveness of the tool suggests it isn’t as smooth of a solution as some make it out to be. For example, a poll from Search Engine Roundtable claims that only 13% of webmasters had success using the Disavow Tool.

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Source: Search Engine Roundtable

Of course, Search Engine Roundtable openly admits their polls are far from scientific (you can read their disclaimer here). But, while many are taking these results as proof that the Disavow Tool doesn’t work, it could very well indicate something very different. People seem to just be using the tool wrong a huge amount of the time.

As Barry Schwartz points out, there is no doubt that the Disavow Tool can help remove penalties, but it doesn’t always lead to better rankings. With Google’s constantly changing algorithms, it is impossible to expect to return to the exact positions in the results you were already at.

Not only that, but Google has given very specific instructions for how the Disavow Tool is intended to be used, and experts have been regularly updating their own guides for the tool. But, a lot of webmasters see that they received a penalty of some form and immediately go into panic mode. They mass disavow links, without doing the work to ensure the links were ever the problem.

What do you think? Is the Disavow Tool not reliable, or is the tool being misused?

After Google launched the disavow link tool in mid-October, there were a fair amount of doubters and those that claimed it doesn’t work. Dixon Jones from Majestic SEO, a well known and respected member of the SEO community posted in a Google+ thread that he used it for a site and it worked to remove a manual link penalty.

SEO Roundtable has the exact posts he made explaining the process and what happened. For Jones, the manual penalty was removed fairly efficiently, but those wanting to use it for a Penguin link penalty may need to wait for a new refresh.

The best option is of course to try to avoid link penalties or bad links, but the world isn’t perfect. If you’ve dealt with the root issue which caused the penalty, the disavow links tool may just be the solution you need.

 

I recently wrote about the release of Google’s Disavow Links tool, but there are some more questions popping up that need answering. So, let’s cover a little bit more about the tool.

First off, the tool does not immediately take effect. This is one of many reasons Google suggests publishers try to remove questionable links first by working with site owners hosting links, or companies that they may have purchased links through.

Instead of disavowing the links immediately, “it can take weeks for that to go into effect,” said Matt Cutts, head of Google’s web spam team at a keynote during the Pubcon conference. Google also has reserved the right to not use submissions if it feels they are questionable.

It is important to be accurate when making your file to submit to Google. Because of the delay in processing the file, it may take another few weeks to “reavow” links you didn’t mean to discount.

Once you have submitted a file to Google, you can download it, change it, and then resubmit.

The tool is mainly designed for site owners affected by the Penguin Update, which was focused on hitting sites that may have purchased links or gained them through spamming. Before, Google ignored bad links, but now they act as a negative mark against the site.

This change prompted fear in some of the SEO industry that site owners would create bad links pointing to their site, or “negative SEO.” This tool helps to ensure that negative SEO is not a worry by allowing you to disavow any of those types of links.

Danny Sullivan from Search Engine Land has even more information about the tool, and Matt Cutts has a 10 minute long video answering questions.

 

If you’ve ever received a notification from Google about a manual spam action based on “unnatural links” pointing to your webpage, Google has a new tool for you.

Links are one of the most known about factors Google uses to order search results, and they examine the links between sites to decide which pages are reputable. As you probably know, this is the foundation of PageRank, another of the most well-known “signals” Google uses to order search results. Google is concerned about spammers trying to take advantage of PageRank, and often they have to take manual action.

The notification you may have received in Webmaster Tools about those unnatural links suggests you got caught up in linkspam. Linkspam is the use of paid links, link exchanges, and other tactics like those. The best response to the message would be to remove as many low quality links as possible from your site. This keeps Google off of your back, and will improve the reputation of your site as a whole.

If you can’t seem to get rid of all of the links for some reason, Google’s new tool can help you out. The Disavow Links page allows you to input URLs which you would like disavowed from your site, and the “domain :” keyword will help you disavow links across all pages on a specific site.

Everyone is allowed one disavow file per website, and the file is shared among site owners through Webmaster Tools.

If you need assistance finding bad links in your site, the “Links to Your Site” feature in Webmaster Tools can also assist you in starting your search.

Google’s Webmaster Central Blog included a few quick answers in their announcement for the tool for questions you may have, noting that most sites will not need to use the feature in any way unless they’ve received a notification.