We shared the news of Google’s new Disavow Links tool earlier this week (more details here) which is giving webmasters the power to remove low-quality links that are pointing to their site so that Google doesn’t hold these links against the website when determining its ranking.
While this sounds like a miracle tool, Google has warned webmasters not to go crazy disavowing links left, right and center as this could work against you.
In order to work out what you should and shouldn’t do with this tool, I’ve shared some do and don’ts below (hat tip to Josh Patrice for the advice).
- Don’t disavow links unless you’ve carefully researched them
What does that mean? Well, it’s not just looking at domain names, domain authority, or whatever else you use to get a rough understanding of the quality of said site. Thoroughly researching your links is much more complicated and will take time. However, you’ll be better off in the end for having done it.
- Don’t use this as a short cut
The disavowal tool is not a magic shortcut. Only submit links that you’ve already tried to remove. As you read the rest of this article, you’ll see Google makes it clear that this isn’t a 100% guaranteed way to get links removed from your profile. Nor is it there to make life ‘easier’ so much as it’s there to tip the balance of power away from spammers and back towards webmasters. Treat it as such.
- Don’t disavow an entire domain unless you’re 100% sure every link on that domain is garbage
This applies to the odd industry blog, news site, content site, etc. Yeah, they look like garbage. Yeah, they smell like garbage. And yes, they likely are 90% garbage…but that 10%. When the website got that link from Microsoft, or Yahoo, or CNN – before they let their site go to hell. That link still matters, that piece of content still matters, and your link from them might still matter.
- Don’t assume that all rankings issues can be fixed by disavowing links
There are a lot of reasons your site may have dropped in the rankings. Be smart. Disavow the links you know to be spam and that you’ve already tried to remove. Then re-evaluate your site, and see where you can improve.
- Don’t file a re-inclusion request until you’ve uploaded a disavowal file
Before you file for re-inclusion, make sure you’ve done your research. Leave no stone unturned, and be sure to clean up the rest of your site as well.
- Don’t become a serial uploader
Don’t sit there submitting every 3 hours and then wondering why you’re not back in the rankings. This is a new, fairly advanced tool. It’s best to proceed with caution. Google agrees.
- Do properly fill out your file of links to be disavowed
All you need is a plain text file with one URL per line. Google also gives us a few commands
• Lines that begin with a hash # are considered comments.
• Lines that start “domain:” allow you to disavow all links from a particular domain
- Do use Webmaster Tools: Links to Your Site
Webmaster Tools is your insight into Google’s view of your site. Grab the links they’re reporting first, and filter through those.
- Do think of this like rel=”canonical”
Google is equating this tool to rel=”canonical” in that it’s more of a strong suggestion than a directive.
It’s important to note that, just like rel=”canonical,” this is meant to be used when necessary. We’re still expected to clean up as many links as possible on our own, request that webmasters be taken down, etc. Then we can use the disavow tool.
You won’t see anything change overnight. Google says:
We need to recrawl and reindex the URLs you disavowed before your disavowals go into effect, which can take multiple weeks.
I wouldn’t expect to see positive results for a month at least.
Have you used the Disavow Links tool yet?