Google announced a new tool on Tuesday called the Link Disavow Tool which allows webmasters to request that the search engine ignores certain inbound links from other websites which may be causing issues with their search engine rankings.
The tool, which can be found in Google Webmaster Tools and was announced yesterday via blog post on Google’s Webmaster Central Blog, is essentially an answer to requests and complaints from website owners everywhere who were suddenly penalized by Google’s Penguin update back on April 24th of this year.
The Google Penguin update essentially penalizes websites which have anchor-text-heavy inbound links from multiple low-quality websites in an attempt to unnaturally influence search engine rankings for specific keywords.
Up until now, the only way that webmasters and SEO’ers could remove potentially harmful links from low-quality directory sites, scraper sites, and other damaging inbound links was to e-mail the website and request that the link be adjusted and/or deleted. This was not always successful, either because the the webmaster of the site was unreachable or because their contact information was nowhere to be found.
Here’s a video in which Google’s Matt Cutts explains more about the tool:
A few FAQ’s regarding the disvow link tool:
Once I upload the file as shown in the Webmaster Tools blog post, how long will it take for Google to take action and ignore these links?
According to Matt Cutts, it can take a few weeks for Google to assess the links uploaded in the file and to make the necessary adjustments, so you’re not completely out of the penalty box right away.
What links should I be requesting Google to ignore?
According to Google’s linking guidelines, link schemes such as paid links, link exchanges, low-quality links such as links from social bookmarking sites and lower-quality directory sites, sitewide footer links, links from forum signatures, and any other links which are anchor-text-heavy such as links from article sites and unnatural guest blog posts should be analyzed.
So, what CAN you actually do anymore?
According to Google- not much.
Their stance that “everything will happen naturally” and that “you should just keep posting some great content on your site” sounds great and all, until you end up with thousands of pages on your site and you’re still stuck wondering why sites with multiple questionable inbound links are outranking you on Google.
Don’t take everything that Google says publicly to heart. There are still plenty of link building opportunities that will improve both organic and local search engine rankings, especially in the extremely competitive legal market. You just need to know what these opportunities are and how to find them. In other words, you need to become (or hire) a ninja.