Since the disavow tool of Google had come into existence, some webmasters were asking about certain matters which were not clarified by the team on their updates. Though that’s really not an issue for others who have already been disavowing their unnatural links, the queries still are one critical thing which has probably motivated Matt Cutts, head of the web spam team, to let no another day pass by without enlightening the minds of the webmasters.
Matt’s answers to 13 questions (Q & A with Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land) were notably helpful in understanding the tool better, specifically, on how should it be used, what links must be removed, the results that could be expected, and other things which the webmasters can do while removing the unhealthy links.
To paraphrase and simplify the answers of Matt, here are my insights and analysis:
• Google Provides Samples of Links to be Removed – the emails from the search engine, according to Matt, now include samples of bad links which the webmasters should take into account so as to avoid removing quality links. Thus, it also means that before you use the disavow tool, you should first classify the good and bad links that you intend to disavow; otherwise, you’ll may be losing those which can help boost your traffic and ranking.
• No List of Bad Links to avoid Giving hints to Hackers/Spammers – though having a list of bad links would definitely help webmasters in determining the links to be removed, it’s not, however, a good idea according to Matt since, by doing so, might just aid hackers or spammers to make their illicit job easier and more efficient.
• Use Disavow Tool if You were Hit by Updates – in a previous webmaster video by Matt, he explained that there’s already no need for webmasters to use the tool if they’re certain that their sites’ links are secured or not spammy or unnatural, but now he clarified that when your site was hit by Penguin or Panda updates, for instance, you should use it to ensure that you really have no unnatural links.
• Try to Remove before Disavowing – it’s undeniably tough to remove the unnatural links, and easy to have them disavowed instantly, but Google is not in the opinion of some webmasters to just use the tool without first trying to remove them. Matt says they can detect whether the list of links have been tried to remove before submitting them, and when they discover that they’re just submitted instantly, then the “manual action” message might be given back from their source.
• List URL Variants whenever Necessary – if you want to be very careful and safe, then having a list of URL variants is a good thing, but it would be more practical to have only a list of one URL since Google would just take the various lists into a single URL.
• New Disavow Lists wouldn’t Affect Previous Ones – it doesn’t matter if you uploaded a new list while waiting for the result of your previous request. However, you can expect that the result for your last request is also delayed.
• It may Take Months to get Disavow Results – the delay is normal since it also takes a long time for the data to be refreshed in different algorithms; hence, patience is really a virtue when you’re waiting for the results of the disavow tool.
• Reconsideration is the Option when you get “Manual Action” – if you were instructed to take a manual action, then you should try submitting reconsideration request for the possible alternative which Google might recommend. Yet, even if you have a manual web action, you should still have to make a reconsideration request if you intend to use the disavow tool.
• Manual Actions do not Necessarily relate to Bad Links – don’t think that if you receive a message directing you to take manual action, it also means that you have or don’t have bad links; the Google does not say that. You should just wait for the instruction about the proper things to do or steps to follow.
• Disavow Removes all links from a domain without prefix – if you request for the removal of a certain site without prefix like “evilsite.com”, for instance, the tool would already remove all the links in such site. But just spend time to verify such because Danny Sullivan, editor of the Search Engine Land, has still a doubt about such.
• Google may Check the Status of Sites to avoid Negative SEO – one concern of the webmasters is the cause of unnatural links in external sites, and to resolve this issue of “Negative SEO”, Google may conduct spot checks into the sites.
• Cleaning-up the site’s backlinks is one way of Ensuring Higher quality links – your previous backlinks which were not cleaned-up may affect your site, and that’s the reason why you should take time cleaning them with the disavow tool.
What do the Experts Say About the Disavow Tool?
Here are some insightful views I have solicited through twitter.
By the way thanks to Eric, Bill and Steve, these views are truly valuable to us.
At last, things have become clearer for the webmasters to use the Google’s link disavow tool properly and efficiently. But let’s bear in mind that it’s not the tool itself which can make our site safe and productive; it’s on how we use it and what we regularly do in SEO that can bring us to the glory of security and success. And one last thing, remember that this all rotates to the value of QUALITY we are sharing to the users.
If you have some more insights on how the disavow tool can help Small business SEO, you are free to share your message below.