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Google will launch a tool to disavow unwanted links
jemois




msg:4462066
 2:40 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt Cutts told at SMX in Seattle that Google will develop in the following months a tool to disavow unwanted links to your website. I think this will help some sites recovering and also make your competitors harder to hit your website. [searchengineland.com...]
What will the impact look like ?

 

Shaddows




msg:4462511
 3:29 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

But the short answer is the same reason shoplifters aren't politely asked to put the stolen items back. There's no deterrant and no justice for those who play by the rules.

Yes, but honest buyers aren't taken to the cop shop to prove they are not shoplifters either. There is a reason people are innocent until proven guilty (in a normal society).

Google isn't a society, normal or otherwise. But anyway, if shops can't prove you are shoplifting, but only suspect, they just ban you. Sound familiar.

Hypothetical, really? I remember we just had a discussion with you claiming that there is no such thing as "links can hurt you".
You don't remember very well [webmasterworld.com]. I never claimed that, but I did state my opinion. As it happens, I don't think competitors stand much chance of hurting you, unless you are very small or very fragile. Google "confirming" that its hypothetically possible doesn't mean its effective. And even if it is effective, it doesn't mean its happening to you.

Whereas, someone in you niche IS buying links. Probably lots of people. It IS happening, its NOT a theory, it's live, it's prevalent and it's having an impact.

You have been wrong more times than right

Doubtful.

I think you should refrain for a while and sit this one out

What, opposing voices upsetting you?

atlrus




msg:4462520
 3:53 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

You don't remember very well. I never claimed that, but I did state my opinion. As it happens, I don't think competitors stand much chance of hurting you, unless you are very small or very fragile. Google "confirming" that its hypothetically possible doesn't mean its effective. And even if it is effective, it doesn't mean its happening to you.


And you still don't see the point, do you? I am not afraid only from malicious webmasters buying my way to doom. I am mainly afraid of Google banning me because Google "negative-SEOs" me, i.e. for some reason Google thinks that a bunch of links to my website are "untrustworthy" and instead of simply ignoring them - Google is punishing me for it. Maybe I am responsible, maybe I'm not. Any website worth its salt will have people linking back from good AND bad websites.

Whereas, someone in you niche IS buying links. Probably lots of people. It IS happening, its NOT a theory, it's live, it's prevalent and it's having an impact.


Yes, but if those links are ignored - there would be no impact. Link buyers would be punished by spending money for nothing and honest webmasters will not be punished by just being collateral damage.

Let me try to use your analogy and maybe you would understand.

Someone in my neighborhood is committing crime. Probably lots of people. It IS happening, its NOT a theory, it's live, it's prevalent and this crime is having an impact. But I don't go to the police every day to prove I don't commit crime. That's called a police-state and it's the exact opposite of freedom. And because Google is a monopoly - it's making us police each other (and ourselves), just like a police-state would, instead of just accepting the fact that there will always be "crime".

There will always be people gaming Google and it's recent attempts at policing have increased the number of people benefiting from gaming the algo. Nothing good has came out of the recent changes - I don't see one thread here praising the amazing new results Google is returning...

netmeg




msg:4462531
 4:13 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

My impression was that they said they might release such a tool, not that they definitely would.

And if you don't trust it, don't use it.

Seems pretty simple to me.

rlange




msg:4462533
 4:14 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

FranticFish wrote:
Er, hang on. How can you disavow links unless you have a list of those links? WMT doesn't show all your links.

Good point. Obviously that's something Google would need to consider if they actually decide to provide us with such a tool.

atlrus wrote:
[...] completely different to be given a tool to "tweak" how this page is ranked.

I understand that, since this tool doesn't actually exist, its capabilities are speculative, but I feel this idea that it will essentially allow you significant control over a page's rank is almost entirely unfounded.

(Even if it were true, who wouldn't love that?)

Have you asked yourself what's stopping Google from simply discounting suspicious links?

I have, and I've even posted a hypothesis of mine in this very thread. As you seem to have either missed it or failed to understand it for what it was, I will repeat and expand upon it, but only once:

This apparent change (no longer ignoring at least some suspicious links) is a deliberate move by Google to disincline webmasters from engaging in bad behavior such as spammy link-buying schemes. Simply ignoring such links resulted in only a loss of a little bit of money on the part of the buyer, but potentially a positive gain from links that Google hadn't detected; hardly a great disincentive. However, if those links which Google does detect actually have a negative effect, then they will diminish, cancel, or overshadow whatever positive effect may come from links that Google hasn't detected.

altrus wrote:
Yes, but honest buyers aren't taken to the cop shop to prove they are not shoplifters either. There is a reason people are innocent until proven guilty (in a normal society).

That's only within the court system. In society at large, if you haven't noticed, there's an extreme tendency toward "guilty until proven innocent". Just examine your own attitude toward Google in this very thread if you don't believe me.

altrus wrote:
I am mainly afraid of Google banning me because Google "negative-SEOs" me, i.e. for some reason Google thinks that a bunch of links to my website are "untrustworthy" and instead of simply ignoring them - Google is punishing me for it. Maybe I am responsible, maybe I'm not. Any website worth its salt will have people linking back from good AND bad websites.

On what is this fear of yours founded and how does it relate to this thread?

--
Ryan

atlrus




msg:4462542
 4:27 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)


On what is this fear of yours founded and how does it relate to this thread?


On the fact that links can now affect you negatively, proven by Google even talking about such tool.

How does it relate to this thread? Do I really have to explain this?

That's only within the court system. In society at large, if you haven't noticed, there's an extreme tendency toward guilty until proven innocent.


Really? Where do you live? Because I interact with many companies daily and I never get the feeling that they approach me with "shoplifter first, customer second" attitude...

I have, and I've even posted a hypothesis of mine in this very thread. As you seem to have either missed it or failed to understand it for what it was, I will repeat and expand upon it, but only once:

This apparent change (no longer ignoring at least some suspicious links) is a deliberate move by Google to disincline webmasters from engaging in bad behavior such as spammy link-buying schemes. Simply ignoring such links resulted in only a loss of a little bit of money on the part of the buyer, but potentially a positive gain from links that Google hadn't detected; hardly a great disincentive. However, if those links which Google does detect actually have a negative effect, then they will diminish, cancel, or overshadow whatever positive effect may come from links that Google hasn't detected.


And how is that working out? Amazing and stable results? Or a gigantic mess of suspicious webmasters scared to link in/out, welcoming the news that Google may actually give them a tool to protect themselves from Google itself? Because this is exactly what such tool "would" do - give you a way to protect yourself from Google, not from anything else...ironic...

rlange




msg:4462552
 4:46 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

atlrus wrote:
On the fact that links can now affect you negatively, proven by Google even talking about such tool.

But where does the banning come in? That seems to be pure hyperbole on your part.

Because I interact with many companies daily and I never get the feeling that they approach me with "shoplifter first, customer second" attitude...

I'm sure you've noticed all those security cameras. Why would they be necessary if there weren't an underlying suspicion that everyone who enters the store, including you, is a potential shoplifter?

[...] welcoming the news that Google may actually give them a tool to protect themselves from Google itself? Because this is exactly what such tool "would" do - give you a way to protect yourself from Google, not from anything else...ironic...

Again, this is not unprecedented: reconsideration requests.

--
Ryan

Shaddows




msg:4462555
 4:51 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt - Why Google Penalises Paid Links [webmasterworld.com]

My take on why its in Google's interest to talk up negative SEO.

londrum




msg:4462556
 4:52 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

it might turn out to be a good link-checking tool as well.

WMT is lousy for checking links when you've got thousands (or even millions). but if they are going to let you disavow backlinks, presumably they will have to list every single one they know about... unless they only show you the ones which are causing you problems, which is unlikely.

Edge




msg:4462557
 4:53 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

On the fact that links can now affect you negatively, proven by Google even talking about such tool.


So, how does one know which for sure links are affecting one's website negatively? Is google going to start publishing which links means what to yours and my websites?

Not!

randle




msg:4462567
 5:16 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well, one things for sure; The much ballyhooed decline of the role links play in rankings is a lot of theoretical conjecture. User data, bounce rates, quality content, blah, blah, blah is no match for a boat load of back links from mediocre sources and certainly not for even one from a high quality source.

The Googlers are obsessed with back link profiles and theres a reason for it.

netmeg




msg:4462569
 5:19 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I get the impression that if Google does this, it's not because they WANT to, but because people have been asking them to. In fact, they kind of sound reluctant to do it at all. So it's a bit premature to turn it into yet another giant Google conspiracy.

rlange




msg:4462575
 5:32 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Edge wrote:
So, how does one know which for sure links are affecting one's website negatively?

You don't; just like you don't know for sure which links are affecting your site positively. But it shouldn't be too difficult to determine a good link from a bad link by checking it's context (the site it's on, the content of the page it's on, etc.).

For as much as some people hate Google around here, they sure are bizarrely content with letting Google decide what's good and bad for their sites when it comes to links.

netmeg wrote:
I get the impression that if Google does this, it's not because they WANT to, but because people have been asking them to. In fact, they kind of sound reluctant to do it at all.

That's certainly my impression.

--
Ryan

WebPixie




msg:4462578
 5:37 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Google seems to see SEO as the enemy, yet in move after move they are strengthening the SEO business.

Most webmasters that are spending their time focusing on their sites and their visitors are not going to follow or understand this potential change to WMT. To keep up they are going to be forced to either spend less time on their sites and more time learning SEO or hire an outside SEO firm.

My wife and I are Mom and Pop, we own and operate a lot of websites. We have no employees save the occasional outsourcing of minor work. Years ago we spent almost 100% of our time on developing sites and improving existing sites. Now we spend less than 50% of our time on the same. We tried for a long time to stick the "build good content and it will work out" model, but when we were on the verge of going out of business we were forced to adapt. It seems that almost every move by Google is forcing us to adapt more.

The next adaption may be that we adjust our model so that we just build sites and sell them to SEO people. The knowledge set of making a good site and ranking a good site are so different currently that the mom and pop people like us might very well be on the way out.

Hope_Fowl




msg:4462615
 7:45 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

When "Old Google" didn't like a link (or suspected it of being manipulated) - it was simply discounted, whether it was bought by you or another webmaster trying to do harm. It's simple as that. Goal was achieved without any harmful consequence.

Have you asked yourself what's stopping Google from simply discounting suspicious links?


This tool will probably do two things:
  • Google can try to remove the disavowed links from its process. The submitting webmaster hopes this will benefit his site.
  • Google can feed the disavowed links into its process for identification of suspicious links. That is, it can use them as feedback to train its system to better identify suspicious links. Webmasters' effort can be tapped as input to the automation which will protect more web sites.

FranticFish




msg:4462652
 9:20 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

In my view such a tool would only be a positive thing. It may even point to a fundamental shift in Google's opinion towards 'bad' links. Why try to punish what you don't approve of, when you could instead only reward what you DO approve of? Far less scope for false positives there, in my view.

I don't mind admitting that I personally manage a site or two with link profiles I'm not completely proud of, and would like to 'zap' a few links. I've read a few threads here recently where people feel that they're being punished today for their actions from 4/5 years ago. I can identify with that; we can't all start out privy to the best, Google-approved advice on how to promote our sites, and the goalposts have moved considerably in the time I've been online.

But aside from MY reasons for wanting a tool, what about Google's reasons? This should provide them with a great deal of very specific data about the types of links that webmasters don't want associated with their websites. Surely that can only benefit the algorithm?

And as for people being able to use this tool to game the system, I think it would easy indeed to cross reference requests with the age of domain, discovery date of links, pages indexed, and any other number of factors, to identify abuse of the system. If all requests have to come through an account that is linked to a website (or websites), then surely Google still retain complete ability to punish infringements?

PCInk




msg:4462660
 9:46 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

You can use nofollow for outbound links to show you don't trust the website the link points to.

It is about time there was a reverse. If a site you don't trust points to you, you should be able to signal 'nofollow' in reverse, either in webmaster tools or a txt file like robots.txt.

mrguy




msg:4462661
 9:47 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

For me, I trust NOTHING gorg does for webmasters anymore.

They have proven time and time again that they don't care about us so I'm sure there are ulterior motives for developing such a tool.

This is the new Google we are talking about, nothing good is going to come of this.

Although, I like the idea being able to do it with a robots.txt file or similiar so I don't need to use a Google account to do it.

TypicalSurfer




msg:4462670
 9:52 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Good tool for google, deploy rats to identify link sellers, let me count the ways that the "tool" could be abused.

I'd prefer a "disavow google" tool.

jeyKay




msg:4462673
 9:59 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is good but why doesnt Google just ignore crap links, or penalize obvious manipulations.

Now webmasters will be able to spam even more, by adding bunch of links and "disavowing" them one by one until they get the rank they want? It opens to the door to more distractions if you ask me.

tedster




msg:4462694
 10:22 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I get the impression that if Google does this, it's not because they WANT to, but because people have been asking them to.

Exactly - this forum has seen many such requests with no dissenting voices. That is, no dissent until Google did exactly what webmasters were requesting.

When the apparent conclusion is "If Google took an action, it must be evil" then the things are getting way too distorted for my taste. We all need more clarity than that if we are going to do effective SEO.

With this "unwanted links" tool, Google is giving webmasters what a great majority were saying they wanted.

FranticFish




msg:4462695
 10:22 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

@jeyKay - in practice I can't see this working on anything other than a large, highly organised scale, across multiple accounts. If you are adding random links and then discounting some to see if it makes a difference, you run a real risk of raising some obvious flags, unless you use multiple accounts.

Think about it. Let's say you have a link (A): you need three sites; one to 'allow' A, one to 'deny' A, and a control with no link. Now add a second link, and now you need four sites - one to allow A only, one to allow B only, one to allow both, and your control. With three links you need seven sites, and from then on it starts to grow rapidly.

I really don't think in practice it offers that much opportunity for spam. I do think it offers webmasters real control and Google a great new source of information.

mrguy




msg:4462713
 10:46 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

With this "unwanted links" tool, Google is giving webmasters what a great majority were saying they wanted.


If they really cared, they would make it so those of us who do not use Google accounts for anything and never will, could put a file on our site and they could then read it like a txt or even xml file.

Other than that, it's just another attempt by Google to gather more information.

And unless they set it so you can disallow links from an entire domain, the tool is worthless. If a site hammers you with a site wide and has thousands up thousands of pages pointing to you, then that would take an awful long time to go and add each page as a bad link.

I thought Google was about automation. There is nothing automated about that and it just shows they have have control of their own algo.

atlrus




msg:4462724
 11:22 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

With this "unwanted links" tool, Google is giving webmasters what a great majority were saying they wanted.


The only way webmasters want such tool is in a reactive, not proactive way. In other words, if Google doesn't penalize you for bad links - you would have absolutely no need for such tool. No one asked for anything like that before Google start sending the "suspicious links" emails.

Nothing in the WMT works as it's supposed to - sitemaps don't speed up crawl, link count is not accurate, contact may or may not lead to response, +1 is useless for anything, etc. What would make one think that this new tool would work? All the evidence so far points to the fact that Google is yet to deliver something webmasters could find of value. Heck, Google doesn't even respect robots.txt anymore... I somehow can't foresee this tool (if it ever comes out) to be something webmasters would ask for.

You can use nofollow for outbound links to show you don't trust the website the link points to.

It is about time there was a reverse. If a site you don't trust points to you, you should be able to signal 'nofollow' in reverse, either in webmaster tools or a txt file like robots.txt.


No, thank you. I not only don't need the reverse, I could go without "nofollow" or any other half-baked idea that comes out of Google.

Nofollow is the new equivalent of old on-page spam - I know of quite a few websites engaged in massive front-page (or otherwise) link exchanges - the unsuspecting webmasters post a home page link to the site in question, while they get back a nofollow link. Guess who is the winner and loser in this "partnership". Yet another great idea brought to you by Google's anti-spam team...

P.S. Nofollow was yet another reactive request by webmasters AFTER Google decided that links cannot really be used for advertising anymore.

[edited by: atlrus at 11:31 pm (utc) on Jun 7, 2012]

randle




msg:4462730
 11:29 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dont see any problem with Google creating and offering this thing. Theres been some links to our sites I didn't like the look of that I wished would go away, so this is at least something to think about in those situations.

The interesting thing to contemplate with this development though is I just find it hard to believe Google would ever create, and launch something like this if it was purely some sort of pacifier for people.

They rely so heavily on links to make their algo work i'm sure its no easy matter to sort through all the muck and mire with real confidence, especially when the punishments they hand out for perceived infractions are so severe. You can be handsomely rewarded for your back link profile or handed the death sentence and the line between the two is very fine.

The other element to think about is are their any ramifications to a site that gets their links "unfriended" repeatedly?

Lorel




msg:4462731
 11:32 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I stupidly added links to my site in the footer of several client sites last summer, (instead of just the home page) as an experiment, and I didn't notice it at the time however my traffic dropped dropped drastically at the same time and continued to drop. I traded links with another site a few months later and she added sitewides to my site, and my traffic dropped again at the same time. I have removed all those links over a month ago but traffic hasn't improved yet. My next step is to get multiple site wides removed listed in Gwmt from obvious spammy sites.

I also have 2 clients hit by competitors adding sitewides to their site and their traffic dropped drastically after one or the other of the Panda or Penguin updates.

So, I'm a firm believer that sitewide links pointing at your site can hurt you, whether via competitors or your own actions. I hope google gets that tool set up soon to let us disallow bad links.

Scurramunga




msg:4462743
 1:11 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Many of us would welcome the tool if it worked, even if it resulted us in doing extra work to make up for algo deficiencies. That's just how dire the situation is.

However, from my point of view, I can foresee two likely scenarios as a result using this tool:

1.The tagging of (perceived) poor links will have no positive effect on my rankings.
2. The tagging of (perceived) poor links will have a negative effect on my rankings.

This in turn will leave me wondering if:

1. The new tool is broken, just like most of the other tools.
2. I might have incorrectly identified good links as bad links.
3. If I have once again been duped by Google into handing over info which has been used against me.



Apologies for the pessimistic outlook, but I can't see any light out of any tunnel. I use WMT and have tried everything I have seen suggested (short of contacting bad link providers)

dvduval




msg:4462757
 1:54 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

Also keep in mind some people buy SEO services but did not know enough about SEO to know they impact on their site until afterwards.

macgizmoguy




msg:4462770
 2:33 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

What seriously needs to happen is a sequence of HIGH PROFILE examples of Negative SEO to hit the blogosphere - one after another. EXPOSE the ugly truth of the can of worms Google has created by this shift towards punishing websites - and the real world economic devastation it can create for legitimate but vulnerable businesses.

Negative SEO isn't 'theory'. Particularly post-Penguin. It's demonstrable, especially on young and weak link-graph sites. Inflicting a minus-50 Google penalty is pretty much fatal to any site, so de-indexing isn't even necessary. Negative results can be inflicted in 30 days or less depending on crawl rates - on a page level, or domain wide. And it now can be done so dirt cheap it's appalling.

That Google somehow is trying to turn their corporate and algo problems into OUR problem is ludicrous. Clearly they're banking on certain personality types: Rat finks and blabbermouths, self-assigned Holier-Than-Thou 'Cleanup Captains' of the internet, or fearful atonement-seekers needing a digital confession booth to atone their 'sins'... And what Google promises are even better tools to do that with - Real Soon Now?

J_RaD




msg:4462802
 4:18 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

how many times does goog have to show its cards for webmasters to finally understand THEY ARE NOT YOUR FRIEND.

arikgub




msg:4462811
 6:02 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

I dont see any problem with Google creating and offering this thing


I don't see any problem with Google creating the tool either, I just see a problem with myself using it. It would be the lowest point I got to in my professional career.

I recently bought about 10,000 links to one of my testbed websites as an experiment (as a side note: the only way to learn smth in seo is actually to do stuff). Do you realize it took me only $20 and 15 min of my time to do that? I could flood every worthy website in my industry with tens of thousands of links in no time and on a shoestring budget if I wanted to.

People, think what happens every time a competitor spends $20 and 15 min to harm your site. Will you spend weeks and months removing the links, disavowing links?

In the same interview mentioned in this thread, MC said he wants to see an "earnest attempt" to remove the links. Really Matt? Do you think I have no better stuff to do than chasing spammers over the internet and begging for link removals? Demanding that is just adding insult to injury. Google opened a pandora box letting the negative SEO go rampant, and now they expect honest webmasters to clean after them.

I just refuse to play this game, and so should everyone whose online business is dear to him. I have enjoyed online entrepreneurship tremendously over the years, but if I have to put so much of my energy into "removing links" instead of doing smth creative, then it isn't worth it for me anymore.

Look what a competitor with Google's help can do to you. If you guys are wasting your dear time on link removals - just that is a proof that negative SEO works. And that disregarding the question whether it actually hurt rankings or not.

londrum




msg:4462841
 8:27 am on Jun 8, 2012 (gmt 0)

i've just had a horrible thought.

what if this "tool" is just a form where you can enter the link you want to disavow... and that's it.

maybe they wont provide a list of links at all, and you will have to find them yourself. they are probably thinking that if the links are dodgy (ie paid-for) then you will already know what it is, so they have no need to provide it.

i bet you any money that's what its going to be.

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