Why the Links Disavow Tool Could Hurt Your Web Site

Posted by Scott Salwolke on Wed, Dec 05, 2012

When web site owners started to get penalized for some of the links to their site, they began to ask for a way to have these links ignored. Eventually Google responded by providing them with a disavow tool. It seemed like it was the answer to their prayers. Yet, many are finding this tool to be a two edged sword. Even though they’ve had their links disavowed, their site still doesn’t rank and in some cases, their reconsideration requests are still met with denials. This is why there are a few reasons to consider not doing it yourself or at least doing it cautiously.

It should be a last resort

When Google announced the disavow tool this fall, they advised site owners to only use it if all other measures have failed. Once you found out that your site had bad links you should have first tried to take care of them yourselves. This meant contacting the site from which you purchased links or exchanged links with. Even if you were the victim of negative SEO and someone else generated the links to take your site down, it’s still your responsibility to contact the offending site. Even if you can’t get all the links removed you should still try a reconsideration request and outline in detail what you’ve done to remove the offending links. If you reconsideration request has been rejected and your requests for link removal have gone unanswered, then and only then do the disavow tool.

You’re targeting the wrong links

Although you know you have bad links to your site, you don’t know for sure which links in Disavow links toolparticular Google is penalizing you for.  So many site owners have gone to the extreme and submitted a number of links, even some that could have value. Not only are these links now being disallowed, the true culprits are still out there. So you’ve gone to all this work, waited for the tool to work and ended up in the same position or worse, have dropped even more in the ranking because the links you’ve just eliminated.

It can take a lot of research and time to go through all of a site's links. Take care when going through your list and examine each link on its own merits to see if they come from a site that could be a link farm, adult material or just spammy looking in general. The PageRank of a site's home page can also be an indicator of its value. If it's a site or directory that used to have a high PR and now has 0, then Google may have an issue with it.

The Links Are Gone, So Are Your Rankings

The whole reason many businesses resorted to buying links or to use link exchanges was to improve their rankings. Like many black hat practices, this might have worked for a while. Rankings were good and so was business. Now these same links are negatively impacting your rankings. So you’ve disavowed them and your reconsideration request has been successful. Unfortunately, rankings haven’t improved. They had been inflated by these links and just because they’re gone your site isn’t going to magically improve. You’re simply back at square one where you were prior to obtaining your suspect links.

You didn’t use the tool right and nothing changed, but the date

The disavow tool isn’t the easy tool to use.  You need to do it in the proper format and when you submit the excel sheet with the links you want ignored you just get an automatic reply from Google that they’ve received your submission.  So you wait and wait and there is no response. Only a few weeks later you might you find out that you did it wrong and that you have to resubmit.  This is why you need to either have someone experienced with the tool to do your request. Otherwise you’re in the same predicament and you’ve lost a lot of time. In the process your business is still losing money.

Start doing links the way Google intended. Right now

The whole idea behind Google’s emphasis on links was that they considered them to be votes for a site.  That the reason other sites would link to another site would because they found something of value on that site. This is why you need to start having quality content on your site that other sites link to. Content marketing may seem like something that’s only come into popularity the last few years, it’s actually at the heart of what Google was striving for all along. They want the search results they offer up to people to be the best content out there.  Even if your site is still recovering from the Google Penguin update, you need to start looking toward the future. To have a site that is of value to your market. This will help your rankings and most important your conversions. Most likely even if your site used to rank well for phrases due to suspect links your business wasn’t benefiting from them because visitors weren’t impressed with what they found.

If you’ve been hit with penalties and find your site is suffering from them, then contact me to examine your links. I will assist with reconsideration requests and I can also help you to develop relevant copy that will help you succeed with the search engines and your market.