Google’s Disavow Tool Gets a Refresh
If you’re familiar with Google’s disavow tool, you’re most likely a proactive SEO practitioner. For those who aren’t familiar with this powerful tool, read on with this caution. As with any type of advanced tool, it can be helpful or catastrophic if used incorrectly. Essentially the Disavow tool enables a Webmaster to tell search engines to “ignore” specific domains, often irrelevant or spammy to a website’s business or industry. Originally unveiled in 2012, Google recently refreshed the Disavow interface. Basically it looks prettier, works the same and offers a few more features like adding more errors to uploaded files.
The biggest change is its location. Previously the tool was located within Webmaster Tools. While still hidden, the tool is accessible within the Search Console interface.
A Cautionary Tale
I use Google’s Disavow Tool (strategically and sparingly) when managing a client’s link profile. Our agency has received multiple calls from businesses — and even “SEO agencies” — concerned that their SEO visibility has dropped inexplicably and precipitously. Before we begin digging into their Analytics and Search Console data, we usually ask two questions:
- Did you recently launch your website from a dev environment?
- Have you used the Disavow Tool lately?
The answer to question number one is often an easy fix. Check your robots.txt file.
For question two, the answer is often a sheepish “yes.” Congratulations! You’ve just flushed all your SEO equity. Depending on how long it’s been since the last disavow file was uploaded, we may be able to recover your hard-earned SEO. That’s why the tool is best wielded by an experienced user.When you participate in schemes like buying links it circumvents the natural selection process of rewarding great content. These are signals that Google and other search engines are actively looking to squelch. Click To Tweet
Critical Tool When Affected by a Manual Action
When you read the Disavow Tool’s warning notice, it’s clear that the tool was originally designed for websites hit with a manual action (or about to be penalized). Manual actions occur when WebMasters participate in link schemes, paid links and other Grey Hat SEO techniques.
A Walk Down Memory Lane
If you’re curious about the Disavow Tools history, you can watch the original unveiling video by Matt Cutts.
Inbound Links Are Votes of Confidence
Inbound links are one of the data point search engines use when selecting website content to appear in organic search results. In a perfect world, all links are relevant and of high quality. Essentially inbound links are a vote of confidence. It means other content creators think your content is worthy of referencing. Theoretically, the more links you have, the more votes of confidence your website has received.
However, when you participate in link schemes like buying links, participating in link farms, or accepting random guest posts, it circumvents the natural selection process of rewarding great and useful content. These are signals that Google and other search engines are actively looking to squelch.
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What Does Your Website’s Link Profile Say About Your Business
Regardless of the industry, each business should have a tailored link building strategy. Do you know what your link profile says about you? Many are surprised to find what is hidden behind the scenes. To be frank, I have been looking at link profiles for almost a decade and just when I think I have seen it all, I continue to be amazed at what we discover when pulling back the covers and diving into the data! A link analysis helps us to see who is linking, what is being discussed about the brand, and shady practices that most were unaware of being used by previous SEO agencies. Contact us today so we can help you by starting with a comprehensive link analysis.