- In early November, Google updated the UI for its Disavow Links tool.
- The core functionality has not changed, which means that some SEO practitioners will continue to use it incorrectly.
- Disavow continues to have no impact on correcting negative SEO and often doesn’t make your website outperform in search.
- However, this can reduce the chances of being served with manual actions due to your backlink profile.
Once upon a time, Google’s Disavow Links tool seemed to be a godsend for SEO specialists around the world. Hailed when it launched in 2012 – shortly after the Penguin algorithm update – as the « best search engine spam reporting tool to date, » disavow links has allowed webmasters to ask Google will ignore all links from certain domains.
Go eight years on, and the feature, which has sparked its fair share of controversy, has been incorporated into Google’s updated Search Console. In the words of Google analyst John Mueller,
« The basic functionality has not changed … it’s an update to the user interface. »
However, the revised Disavow tool includes some new features, such as the ability to download your disavowed links as a .txt file, as well as improved support.
The response from SEO specialists has been somewhat lukewarm, whether that’s because it won’t change the way the tool has been misused so far, or simply because there are other, more pressing issues. which Google could have tackled first. Here, we’ll go over the pros and cons of Google’s Disavow Links tool, and determine if these new changes that have been made are worth it.
How webmasters misused the Disavow Links tool
As it did in the wake of the Penguin update, many people saw the disallowance as an easy way to remove spam backlinks from their site’s profile, encouraging the revised algorithm to look more nicely at their sites. Site (s. That said, there were still inherent issues with how many site owners tended to use it. The disallowance tool was intended to be used only in exceptional circumstances when all other avenues of disavowal removal of poor quality links had been exhausted.
Google itself pointed out in its Help Center at the time that “most sites won’t need to use this tool,” but that hasn’t stopped many from unnecessarily adding all kinds of backlinks to their disallowance lists. Still, the tool acts more as a signpost for the algorithm, rather than a way to formally avoid any backlink penalties or combat any backlink penalties. Negative SEO.
What has changed about disavow links?
The main differences between the updated and older version of Disavow are where it is now located in Search Console. There are also a few new basic features, such as the ability to download your full list of disavowed links in .txt format and an unlimited number of files that you can see when requesting an error report.
This ultimately means that not much has changed for SEO practitioners, other than additional encouragement not to use it to improve their site rankings. In fact, it might explain the audience’s Twitter response which as noted by Search Engine Journal, seem more interested in an update of the query indexing tool, which was discontinued in October 2020. Indeed, without the query indexing tool, the site owners who requested the shutdown some of their backlinks will have to wait until the next time their site is crawled for the changes to take effect, rather than being able to immediately report them to Google.
Is the new Disavow Links tool worth using?
Simply put, the changes Google made to Disavow Links shouldn’t have a significant enough impact on the majority of webmasters to justify using it differently. However, it may be the revision that discouraged more people are using the tool incorrectly, especially since one of its other new features makes it easier to get rid of your list of disowned links and start over.
When it comes to improving the performance of your site, there are arguably much more important things to focus on before you start disavowing links. Considering how little this will actually help those who think it’s a reliable way to increase their odds with the algorithm – which does not even take into account disavowals – the best course of action would be to use the tool exactly as you were before the update. This means sparingly, and only when absolutely necessary, with no misconceptions that it could improve your negative SEO, or your ranking altogether.