Negative SEO involves the practice of linking your site with low-quality and/or blackhat domains in order to drive down your search ranking or even to have it banned by Google. A recent piece in the Guardian warns, “This is a complex problem that only Google can fix, and, as long as people can make money from destroying other people’s websites and potentially their livelihood, it is not a problem that is going to go away any time soon.” SEOs are hoping that Google’s new Link Disavow Tool will indeed make the problem go away.
Sites that Google flags as having “unnatural” links receive a notice, warning webmasters and site owners that the world’s biggest search engine is on to them and is “recommending” that they remove spammy, low-quality links. Matt Cutts says, “If you’ve done as much as you can to remove the problematic links, and there are still some links you just can’t seem to get down, that’s a good time to visit our new Disavow links page.”
The tool, found in Webmaster Tools, allows you to request that Google ignore link-backs to your site from certain domains or pages. Note that you “request” Google disavow the links; that doesn’t mean Google gets right on it. In fact, it may take weeks for the bad link to be dissociated from your site. Still, though, it can help you clean up your link profile. Here are some tips to consider before and when using the Disavow Tool.
- In Webmaster Tools, look in “Links to Your Site.” Then, Traffic > Links to Your Site > Who Links the Most > More. You will see a list of pages that link to your site. Look through for any that are dodgy and start your investigation.
- Do not accidentally disavow all these links!
- Don’t use the Disavow Tools as a housecleaner. If you overuse the tool, it may impact your site’s performance. Use it only as a last resort when there are suspicious or spam links that you feel are impacting your rank.
- Before you use the tool, remove as many bad links as you can. This, as Cutts says, attacks the problem at its root.
Still, with all the caveats, the Disavow Tool is positive news for those wary of Negative SEO.