Finally after months of speculation, Google finally announced the launch of the eagerly anticipated or not so anticipated link disavow tool.
What was the penguin update?
The penguin update was aimed at clearing up webspam and hit many websites. The primary purpose of the Penguin update was to target web spam in Google’s search results. A majority of that web spam appearing to be links from low-quality networks. For many businesses, you may have seen a clear drop in traffic on or around April 24th 2012. Most of those in the SEO community have come to the conclusion that the Penguin update was launched to target aggressive link building, over optimisation and bad links predominately from low quality link networks.
Read more here Google-launches-update-targeting-webspam-in-search-results
What does Google consider important about getting links?
Google considers links as editorial “votes”. So generally it would be perceived that the more links you achieve, the higher your website will rank, Right?
Not quite. Google will analyze the quantity and quality of the links that your website has, and will also check the relevance of websites that link to yours. The better quality of the website that is linking to you then the more authority the link will have. Googles algorithms are becoming more complex and there are now many metrics that they now take into account when ranking a website. Google will evaluate a websites link profile looking at things such as what types of websites are linking to you. They will also look at how quickly you have got these links and the anchor text used. If all of sudden you get a 1000 links to your site with lots of the same anchor text then this automatically looks unnatural and a red warning is raised.
Read here about Googles Quality Guidelines
Getting Natural Links
For many years Google and SEO stalwarts have championed the phrase that you will attract more links by creating unique, worthwhile content that other websites will naturally link to. This can be hard to achieve and in many cases will involve a lot of time and effort. Though many SEO professionals will found it tough at first, there is no doubt that the Penguin update was necessary as many low quality sites manipulated the loopholes to achieve higher rankings within the search engines.
For more information on the penguin update visit this post Google Penguin Update
Reasons why your website has been hit by the Penguin update?
Unnatural link warnings were sent out by Google to those websites that had link profiles that looked unnatural.
Types of unnatural links
- Paid text links using exact match anchor text:.
- Link networks, low quality sites.
- Comment spam.
- Guest posts on questionable sites.
- Article marketing sites.
How do you know that you have bad links?
If you have seen your traffic drop critically around April and your rankings plummet then it is almost certainly the case that you may have been hit by the penguin update.
In many cases businesses have been unaware what their SEO Company was actually doing for them, but of course they were getting the results so it did not really matter.
In many cases building lots of exact anchor text links, using copy with little value and the use of link networks continued to get results. Leading up to and after the penguin update was released, many websites had received unnatural link warnings.
Removing those links that are now harming your website has proved to be tricky. The method required to fix the damage has been to remove bad links and diversify anchor text links. The Disavow tool now potentially provides a way to do this. The penguin update cycle is still in place with an update released in May and a further update released on the 5th October 2012. The disavow tool can also take weeks to take affect according to Google so caution is essential.
Read about the disavow here Google-launches-disavow-links-tool
Why use the Disavow tool?
Leading up to and during the aftermath of the penguin update, many webmasters had received unatural link warnings from Google. The link warnings have been the only signal that Google has been able to provide on the fact that they have a problem with your link profile. Reasons why you should consider using the link disavow tool include;
1. Your website has been manually penalized
It can be hard to determine if this has occurred but generally a manual penalty will be link based. There are reconsideration forms that can be submitted to Google.
2. Your Reconsideration request was denied
There have been many cases where reconsideration requests have been denied and in many cases webmasters have been cautious in submitting these as they see it as an admission of guilt. Unless you have been able to remove all the bad links then the reconsideration request may have been denied. The link disavow tool could be the solution.
3. Your website was hit by the Penguin
As already discussed the penguin update was aimed at websites that were actively violating Google’s publisher guidelines and employing the use of excessive unnatural anchor text and Link networks. The link disavow tool now provides a way to highlight and remove such links.
The risk involved
The tool is new and untried so no doubt there will be many case studies in the near future that will provide metrics on its success. Caution is extremely important and ensuring that you are removing the links that are causing damage is critical.
In cases where sites have lost a lot of traffic and their ranking were greatly affected then the risk of using the Google disavow tool will be much less. Time will tell how affective the tool is and how quickly bad links can be removed. We are currently testing this tool on a site that was affected by the penguin update and will be actively reviewing progress over the next few months.
For more information on using the disavow tool check out this post from SEO Moz googles-disavow-tool-take-a-deep-breath