The world of search engine rankings has changed, leaving many bloggers and site owners watching helplessly as their pages drop down in search results. But Google hasn’t left site owners stranded. With Google Webmaster Tools, webmasters have what they need to succeed with its changing algorithms.
As many site owners learn these new tools, however, they’ve found that search engine ranking is more complex than ever. The quality of incoming links has now taken prominence, with site owners receiving notification of “unnatural links” found online that point to their site. Due to link stuffing in the past designed to boost search engine rankings, Google has tightened up its system to avoid manipulation. If you have an incoming link from a “bad” website, this can now actually penalize you instead of helping your rankings.
Generally one of the first reactions to this is alarm. How, site owners wonder, can they control content on someone else’s site and keep them from linking? The first step is to contact each of the external site owners to ask for the links to be removed. In many cases, that’s all a site owner has to do, but there are many cases where the external site owner is unreachable or unresponsive. For those cases, Google has created the Disavow Tool.
Google recommends the Disavow Tool be used as a last resort, when all attempts to have the link removed by external site owners have been exhausted. For those links that remain, you’ll ask Google to disregard them in search results by first downloading the list of links to your site from Google, then copying the ones you want disavowed into a text file that you upload to Google. Each URL should be on a separate line.
A word of caution: This tool can be very powerful. It’s easy to use, but it has the potential to damage your search rankings if you aren’t careful. Google itself warns webmasters that they should only remove links if they have either received a warning or noticed a large number of problematic links that are impacting their search engine rankings.