Site Owners can Disavow Links with New Google Tool
Back in May, in the immediate aftermath of Google's Penguin update, we talked about how sites were being down-ranked because their link profile included inbound links from shady, irrelevant or otherwise unreliable sites. Site owners complained heavily, saying that they were being unfairly penalized for something beyond their control.
Complain no longer. Starting now, website owners and SEO marketers can let Google know exactly which inbound links they would rather not be associated with, and should be excluded when Google is assessing their website for search rankings.
The official announcement comes in the form of a Google Webmaster Central Blog post by Jonathan Simon, though webspam head Matt Cutts spoke about it at Pubcon about 45 minutes prior.
Disavow a Site, Disavow a Link
In order to disavow links, you'll need to create a text file named "disavow.txt.rtf" and submit it to Google via Webmaster Central. Within the text file, you can specify the specific pages, or even entire sites, whose links to your site you wish to disavow. To specify a page, simply enter the URL into the text file. To disavow an entire site, enter domain:[name of site], i.e. "domain:shadyblackhat.com." You can also type comments by starting a line with a pound sign (#).
After you create the text file, you can log into Webmaster Central, navigate to the Disavow Links tools and select your site from a drop-down menu. You'll then be prompted to select the text file on your drive for upload.
Use with Caution, and Don't Expect Immediate Results
There are a few caveats with the Disavow Links tool, according to the Google blog post:
- The effects of uploading the text file could take weeks
- Google has the final say in whether links are disavowed, and will monitor for any exploitation of the system
- Re-adding a link to your link profile could take weeks if you accidentally disavow one
- The text file is limited to 2 MB, which isn't much of a limitation at all
In addition, it will be possible to make changes to the file and re-upload it if you want to disavow additional links in the future. But that will take -- you guessed it -- weeks.
Google also says that the Disavow Links tool shouldn't be the first place you turn when you discover unwanted links pointing to your site. They recommend that site owners first contact the other sites to have the links eliminated without Google's intervention.