After realizing the demand for a way to remove any links that could cause negative SEO, and in reaction to Bing's solution, Google is now providing their very own disavow links tool from within webmaster tools.
This announcement comes from a now typical Matt Cutts video (found below) and shortly after, their Webmaster Central Blog. With the announcement comes a hefty share of warnings and disclaimers about how most webmasters will not need to use this tool and how it should not be used at all by anyone below an “advanced” webmaster level.
Despite the advanced webmaster label, the tool itself is quite easy to use and Matt even outlines the steps that should be taken in order to use the tool appropriately. The first step, he mentions, is to identify all of the links that may be viewed as low quality, spammy, or anything that may penalize the site under Penguin. Then, after all other link removal tools/practices are exhausted, simply upload a text file which includes the location of each bad link. The process is so simple that it is no surprise that Google is worried that this will be abused by inexperienced webmasters.
Some of the standardized formats and other limitations of the disavow links tool:
- There should only be one url per line.
- To disavow an entire domain, simply add “domain: www.spammydomain.com”.
- To insert any notes (for either the web team or Google) just add a “#” at the beginning of the line.
- There is only one text file per website. To update which links should be disavowed, download the existing text file and then upload it with any requested changes.
- There is a 2 mb maximum file size.
- It may take a few weeks for Google to review the file and disavow the links.
- There is the option to “re-avow” a link, but it is warned that this will take even longer than it did to disavow it and it may have a lower value when the process is complete.
Though many think that jury is still out when it comes to how much negative SEO or spammy backlinks really effect a website, this is definitely a step in the right direction to confirm a lot of speculation. And yes, although many sites are going to use this tool when they don’t need to, it is godsend for a lot of websites that were ruined by low quality backlinks that were acquired years ago by previously effective link-building schemes.