Disavowing Links: Common Sense Advice for Removing "Bad" Links

When to Disavow Links in GoogleIf you own a website and are one of the many webmasters who have seen Google rankings negatively impacted by Google’s efforts to kill manipulative link building over the past year, then you might have welcomed the announcement of Google’s new tool for disavowing links.
If you didn’t know about the announcement, at PubCon in Las Vegas last month, Matt Cutts announced that Google had launched a new tool for disavowing links that you don’t want Google to count anymore. This tool has been heavily sought after since the launch of the Penguin update in April and more than one hundred thousand warnings that Google sent to website owners about unnatural link patterns.
However, it is not a good idea to start disavowing links.

Disavow Links With his announcement Matt Cutts warned to “not use this tool unless you know what you are doing and you are sure that you need it. Do not be the guy (or gal) who accidentally disavows every link going to your website.”
Before you use the tool you should first do a couple of things:

  • Make sure the links you want to remove are actually ones that could be considered spammy and could be causing a negative impact on rankings.
  • Make a sincere effort to remove the links manually because the links will still show up in your link profile even when Google has disavowed them.

Before you even consider removing links, or using the tool, you need to do your research and make sure you know exactly what caused your website to drop out of the rankings. If your website suddenly lost traffic and it was close to the time of an algorithm update then it is easy to jump to the conclusion that it was the update that caused the drop; since the update was about low quality links, it must have been the links that hurt your website rankings.
If you take closer look at the drop in traffic, you might discover that it was not on the day of an algorithm update and that there is some other reason for the drop. If you do believe that your website was hit by the Penguin update or you received an unnatural link warning in webmaster tools, then you should review the links to your site and remove any links that might be hurting your rankings.
Once you have removed the low quality links, it can take several weeks or even months to see an impact on rankings. The best thing to do during that time is to wait and continue providing good quality content to earn more high quality links. In some situations it will be necessary to submit a reconsideration request. This should only be done when Google has sent you a message in webmaster tools about a manual action that they have taken against your site for not complying with their quality guidelines.
Google ReinclusionIf Google has taken a manual action then you should be notified of it through webmaster tools. If you did not receive any notification then do not submit a reconsideration request. Instead you should relax, keep looking for high quality links and wait for the next Penguin algorithm update.
Check out the video from Matt Cutts of Google announcing the new tool;

About the Author: Dustin Williams is a Search Engine Marketing expert and the Global SEO Manager for MidPhase, a domain registration and website hosting services provider. He has been practicing SEM and optimizing websites since 2004. Follow Dustin on Twitter: @WebGazelle.