Why You Shouldn’t Use Google’s New “Disavow Links” Tool

building better links in order to compensate for any lower quality backlinks that are discovered.  As long as over-optimized spam links don’t constitute the bulk of a website’s backlink profile, it’s unlikely that these few bad apples will lead to diminished natural search performance – especially if they’re accounted for with a proportionate increase in newer, higher quality links.

Reason #3 – Disavowing links may have no impact on your site’s performance

Finally, be aware that Google doesn’t claim that it will take webmaster disavowal suggestions at face value and immediately devalue any listed links.  According to the company’s initial announcement:

“This tool allows you to indicate to Google which links you would like to disavow, and Google will typically ignore those links. Much like with rel=”canonical”, this is a strong suggestion rather than a directive—Google reserves the right to trust our own judgment for corner cases, for example—but we will typically use that indication from you when we assess links.”

Basically, you could go through all the effort of diagnosing bad links and ensuring that your disavowal file is 100% accurate, only to have your requested changes make no difference in your website’s SERPs rankings.  Currently, there are no documented cases of the Disavow Links tool resulting in a Penguin or negative SEO recovery, so take the hype surrounding this tool as a one-way ticket to better natural search performance with a grain of salt.

Overall, I’d recommend that most webmasters not worry about the Disavow Links tool at all, with the exception of those in a few well-defined circumstances:

  • Your site has lost rank as the result of the Penguin algorithm update, and you haven’t yet been able to restore your rankings despite working with external site owners to remove low value backlinks.
  • Your reconsideration requests following post-Penguin cleanup have been denied.
  • You’ve received an unnatural links warning from Google and have been unable to clean up the links identified on your own.
  • You can conclusively prove that your site has been the victim of a negative SEO attack (and really, this doesn’t happen nearly as often as webmasters believe it does).
  • You’re an experienced SEO who has spent enough time looking through backlink profiles to be able to diagnose low value backlinks quickly and effectively.

If you don’t fall into one of these groups, you’ll almost always be better off by investing your efforts into building better quality backlinks or working with past linking partners to modify your existing links than to worry about using the Disavow Links tool to request the devaluation of seemingly low value backlinks.

Do you plan on using the Disavow Links tool to improve your website’s link profile quality?  If so, I’d love to hear more about how you’re approaching the process and whether you have any concerns about using the tool in the comments section below!

Image Credit: Shutterstock / Digital Genetics

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel

Sujan Patel