How to Properly Use Google’s Link Disavowal Tool (Part 1)
Linking strategies are a key part of search engine optimization (SEO). However, when done incorrectly or carelessly, linking can seriously hurt a website – possibly even making it a target for a Google penalty (which can quickly bottom out the site’s ranking in Google). One of the key issues associated with linking comes in the form of bad links, specifically when spammy or poor quality sites link to your website.To combat this issue, Google has created a “link disavowal” tool that can empower website owners (or others) to break their connection with bad links and, ideally, improve their site’s credibility and SEO. Because this disavowal tool is extremely powerful, it has to be used in a very specific way so that it doesn’t end up hobbling the very sites it is meant to help.
Here and in an upcoming second part of this blog, we will examine the specific steps that people should follow when using Google’s Link Disavowal tool. Taking care to diligently follow these steps can ensure that the tool is used properly and that, ultimately, a website benefits from the use of this tool (rather than being further penalized by it).
Step 1: Figure out which links are “bad links”
Essentially, this first step requires the identification of the spammy, poor quality links that are hurting a website. This can be a very intensive, tedious step, as it generally requires gathering a comprehensive list of all of the links to the site and then going through each link – one-by-one – to identify the integrity of the source.
The good news here is that Google provides a tool that can give people a comprehensive list of the links to their sites (so they have a complete list to check). To get this list, go to Google Webmaster Tools and pick your site. Then, select the “Links to Your Site” option. Next, select the “More” option, then the “Download Latest Links” selection. This will generate a list you can download so that you have it for reference.
Step 2: Make notes about which links are bad links
As you audit each of the links to your site, make notes about which are bad links. Here, if you are unsure whether a link is a “bad link,” it may be a good idea to pull in a professional to help you make this assessment (as you want to get rid of ALL of the bad links to your website, otherwise your cleanup efforts will have been futile).
Check out the upcoming second part of this blog for some the final steps that are necessary to take when it comes to removing bad links and using Google’s Link Disavowal tool.
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