At long last, after months of promising, Google have finally released their ‘don’t count these links’ tool or to give it its proper terminology ‘Disavow tool’. So, is this what we all need?The answer is a resounding yes, but is it enough of a tool to help ease the pain of many webmasters hit by the Penguin algorithm?
Sadly I believe there is a fatal flaw in this, and that flaw is that Google simply don’t report (in webmaster tools) ALL the links it is using in the evaluation of your site within its algorithms
Matt cutts head of web-spam at Google introduced the tool in the above video. This is quite a lonmg video, but tehre are a few key things he mentions and they are that you should look at RECENT links. Now this is a big thing, as only a few months ago, John Mu (another senior Google guy) stated that ALL links should be looked at as all links are evaluated. So looking at this statement by Matt it tells me that ‘maybe’ Google is using recent links as the trigger, and again, possibly to combat negative seo (something that thanks to the changes Google made, is now a real world practice. I have certainly managed to get some of my test sites blown out of the water. (sorry test sites but that is what you are there for, taking one for the team )
Next Matt says that Google are working on a system so that 2 or 3 link examples will be given in the warning message in WebMasterTools, again this is a real help, and I for one think that some ‘guest bloggers’ will be stunned to see that what they have is a rose by any other name, and the name of that rose is un-natural links. Understand that I am not for one second stating that all guest blogging is bad, but certainly it is likely to be the next thing on the spam radar for Google in my opinion , especially the stuff that isn’t really guest blogging, but is in fact blog link networking.
Next we have a negative. So you have loaded the tool up, you have spentlarge portions of your life tracking down these links, you have done all in your poser toget them removed, you have loaded your url list and asked Google to disavow the links so all will be well in the world because Google wil disavow those links right? WRONG! HOW WRONG is the fact it is wrong. Well matt says “we treat it as a strong suggestion, but we don’t treat it as something we absolutely have to abide by!” Now this old SEO thinks it is disgusting that Google now not only allow the actions of others to affect your business, NOW they are also refusing to accept your instruction to remove from their algorithm process links that you have instructed them to do so, WHY?
This tells me that there is a secondary effect from pages reported, that not only do they disavow links to YOU, they disavow links to everyone from that site. OR they may be feeding disavowed sites into a reduced trust factor sub algo. who knows.
A bit about the process, it is going to take weeks, because they apply what is essentially a ‘nofollow’ equiv to that link, but only at the point of next crawl/index.
Then we have the bombshell, where he says that during a re-inclusion request , don’t think that they are going to look at only the links not disavowed, they are going to look at the links that existed before the disavow. he actually states that the disavow tool is not the answer to your ills.
SO! Is this tool a real useful tool or is it more public relations for Google or is it just going to not help you at all, but help GOOGLE to identify spammy sites? The jury is out, but I will be working with some test sites and possibly some people who contacted me after being hit by penguin, to test, as we have already done all we can.
One last thing. A quick story. A client launched a new site 10 weeks ago, the site was built superbly well, optimised with 100% unique content, it was spidered and google liked what they saw. A bit of press coverage was gained, and all looked well. Then it crashed? On investigation, one of his competitors had carried out negative SEO by buying a load of blogrolls from spam sites. New sites are very vulnerable to negative SEO, so the algorithm is still in a mess, and Google are making it VERY easy for unscrupulous business people to sabotage any new competitors that enter the marketplace.
I am seeing a large increase in cases where a business has been hit through no fault of their own, i.e. saboutage negative SEO, and for me that is heartbreaking.
What are your thoughts on this?