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Google will launch a tool to disavow unwanted links
jemois



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 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 ?

 

Str82u



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 7:33 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

That's tricky but welcome.

Robert Charlton

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 7:57 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

unwanted links

Matt is most likely talking here about links that were completely unsolicited, not about links that you just wish you hadn't bought. It's hard to say what the forgiveness factor would be on those. The relevant quote from the article...

...People have asked questions about negative SEO for a long time. Our guidelines used to say itís nearly impossible to do that, but there have been cases where thatís happened, so we changed the wording on that part of our guidelines.

Some have suggested that Google could disavow links. Even though we put in a lot of protection against negative SEO, thereís been so much talk about that that weíre talking about being able to enable that, maybe in a month or two or three.

More in the SEL article on this worth reading.

superclown2

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 8:24 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

...People have asked questions about negative SEO for a long time. Our guidelines used to say itís nearly impossible to do that, but there have been cases where thatís happened, so we changed the wording on that part of our guidelines.


In other words yes, we accept that our current algorithms are subject to manipulation by negative SEO. We will get round the problem by no longer claiming it can't happen.

Some have suggested that Google could disavow links. Even though we put in a lot of protection against negative SEO, thereís been so much talk about that that weíre talking about being able to enable that, maybe in a month or two or three.


Or maybe four, six, twelve or never. Would it not be simpler to just ignore suspicious links? Then we might be able to find content sites again.

aristotle

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 9:01 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

Matt is most likely talking here about links that were completely unsolicited, not about links that you just wish you hadn't bought. It's hard to say what the forgiveness factor would be on those. The relevant quote from the article...


So how would Google know whether you bought them or not?

tedster

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 9:28 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

That's been a webmaster question for many years - ever since Google started their war on paid links. Some possible answers:

1. Google is anonymously involved in the paid link market, just to learn what's going on.
2. Google models a "big picture" profile of paid links, seeded by known examples (discovered in step #1) so that they can build an algorithm that spots similar suspected paid links.

#2 would then require human intervention to look more closely at the suspects that were uncovered by the algorithm - and most penalties would be manual actions rather than automated actions. Doesn't that sound a lot like what we are currently seeing?

Str82u



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 9:52 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

That sounds allot like domain tasting. If you get a negative downturn from the links, disavow them. Sure, Google might see they are obvious paid links but if the webmaster claims he didn't buy them then who's to question that and how? "My competitor bought them to hurt my reputation"

g1smd

WebmasterWorld Senior Member g1smd us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 10:15 pm on Jun 6, 2012 (gmt 0)

So if a site owner flags a series of incoming links as "unwanted" are they simply not counted, or is the other site now in turn accused of "doing something"?**

** Rhetorical question as I run away from anything to do with link building.

np2003

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 2:10 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

This is a great move by Google, but this confirms that negative links can hurt other sites. This will be problematic for webmasters who have no clue WMT exists. They could be hit with negative SEO attack and have no clue how to disavow unwanted links?

Scurramunga

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 2:18 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

This will be problematic for webmasters who have no clue WMT exists. They could be hit with negative SEO attack and have no clue how to disavow unwanted links?


I think anyone whom you may consider a formidable opponent will be savvy enough to know what it is. Especially when you consider how long it will take to roll out, make it work properly by ironing out all the bugs (of which you can bet that there will be many)

levo

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 2:37 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've never bought links and only asked for links 4-5 times 8 years ago. So, how would I know which links to drop. I've no idea how to buy links, or what bought links look like.

I can't (actually don't want to) check out thousand of incoming links to see if they are spammy or etc. And if Google will only show "fishy" incoming links, why would I approve/accept them?!

Scurramunga

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 2:52 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

So, how would I know which links to drop

It's not hard to determine in most cases when an incoming link looks sus. Look at scraper sites, for instance.

Sgt_Kickaxe

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 3:11 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't use this type of tool until I've confirmed a penalty. I have no interest in policing other sites content for anything but copyright violations. Who am I to tell another webmaster who they can and cannot link to. This tool is an extension of that mentality in that it still requires policing but helps Google by using my time and resources instead of theirs.

I am curious however, can I disavow my own "read more", affiliate and nofollow links? It will be interesting to see. I would be surprised if they allowed the tool to be used in this manner since they despise link sculpting but we'll see.

Bottom line - if Google doesn't tell us specifically which links are sour it's just a guess on our part. I'd prefer they simply disavow sour links on their own, ya know? It still rubs me the wrong way that things on sites I do not own can impact my rankings.

brinked

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 5:01 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Wow. I am sorry, I understand the reasons for this type of thing but I am 100% against this move.

This all sounds great and I too was on the bandwagon everytime someone mentioned this. Until one day I read a post on my iphone that said google had allowed webmasters to discredit links in webmaster tools. My heart immediately began to race in thinking what I should do. Then I started thinking about it and I suddenly was no longer for this type of feature and here is why.

What if you x out some links that you think may be hurting you. Maybe you dont recognize them or just have a suspicion they are hurting you, what happens if you shoot yourself in the foot and actually cause your site to drop even more? Can you re-allow those links? If you can, this will effectively let webmasters see what links work and what links dont work for rankings. "ok, if I disallow these links, my rankings improve, if I remove these, my rankings fall".

Many webmasters think the reason why their website fell was because of their backlinks (which is not always the case). So they will go ahead and x out all the links they bought etc and again shoot their own foot.

The only type of links I can see this would be good for are obvious paid links which usually come in the form of sitewide/blogroll links or if you got into a link scheme with thousands of theme footer links. They can sometimes be difficult to get them removed by contacting the webmaster. And even with the case of the schemey theme links, they should just be discredited regardless by google since any competitor can buy them for relatively cheap.

Even then, if they use this, it should be a part of a reconsideration request. Shoot over a reconsideration request showing all the links you want discredited with an apology. Maybe allow up to 3-5 reconsideration requests a year or something like that so it doesnt get too crazy.

By the way, that blog post turned out to just be a post asking google why they dont offer that feature, I completely misread it at first glance on my iphone.

edit: wow I'm sorry. disavow is an actual word. Holy crap, it means to deny any responsibility for which makes sense in this case. Here I was the entire post thinking someone misspelled disallow. Well jokes on me..but not really because somebody just expanded their vocabulary..that's right.

arikgub

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 7:28 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

disavow is an actual word. Holy crap, it means to deny any responsibility for which makes sense in this case


Don't pay too much attention to the semantics. If "disavow" in this case is just denying responsibility, why not to deny responsibility for ALL links and save yourself from all harm? Surely there is more to it. Who knows what the link disavowing impact on your rankings will actually be ...

I think this tool is a nonsense. Google is simply going nuts. Ignore unnatural links and you need no tools. Introduction of this tool is like a confirmation by Google that negative SEO exists and is a real problem.

onepointone

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 7:37 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Part of me thinks this will just be a way for G to learn more about webmasters, as opposed to allowing webmasters any way to actually alter their rankings.

zeus

WebmasterWorld Senior Member zeus us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 9:16 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

They are coming with tons of updates, but improving important things dont seem to be important, the algo should be able to ignore bad links, why should we also look at that. Im not kidding, more then 50% of my working time goes to please google and im not talking seo, just so that a site is not getting in trouble.

Savanadry



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 11:16 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Exactly Zeus, google should be able to figure this out for themselves, or at least be trying to. Asking us for help is just an easy way out imo, and also puts those webmasters who are concentrating on their sites, not SEO, to a disadvantage. Maybe it's time for some new blood over there?

superclown2

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 11:45 am on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Exactly Zeus, google should be able to figure this out for themselves, or at least be trying to


Is this algorithm of theirs really not capable of detecting, then ignoring, suspect links? Or is there a deeper motive behind this? Every time a webmaster deletes links after being told to do so by Google he/she automatically admits to having some control over those links. How does this affect the rest of that webmaster's sites that are listed in WMT? And if this tool is used how will the owners of sites, whose possibly genuine and well meant links are thus labelled as spammy, be affected?

levo

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 12:35 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

With every new feature, Google is sending webmasters - those who try to improve their rankings by some kind of optimization - to a wild-goose chase. There is no way in hell I'd be able to check sites that link to me.

And I've tons of friends that create great content, who don't know/care about even the basic stuff, like www non-www canonical issue.

The more I try to optimize for Google- follow its best practices etc., the more it feels like an endless chase to nowhere.

rlange



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 1:47 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sgt_Kickaxe wrote:
Who am I to tell another webmaster who they can and cannot link to. This tool is an extension of that mentality [...]

No, it's not. It's a stretch to even connect those two ideas. As I understand it, this tool, if implemented, would just tell Google that you don't want a particular link to affect you in any way (or, at the very least, that you're not actually responsible for the link). Other webmasters can link to you all they want.

[...] it still requires policing but helps Google by using my time and resources instead of theirs.

I can't, for the life of me, see having more control over what affects my sites as a bad thing, especially considering all the complaints and concerns about Google not getting things right.

I am curious however, can I disavow my own "read more", affiliate and nofollow links? It will be interesting to see. I would be surprised if they allowed the tool to be used in this manner since they despise link sculpting but we'll see.

I suspect that the tool wouldn't allow disavowing of on-site links, because that's something you should obviously have complete control over. The tool would be intended to give a measure of control over something a lot of webmasters complain about having no control over, but which can still have a negative effect on their sites.

Bottom line - if Google doesn't tell us specifically which links are sour it's just a guess on our part. I'd prefer they simply disavow sour links on their own, ya know? It still rubs me the wrong way that things on sites I do not own can impact my rankings.

I agree that it would be better for Google to simply ignore suspicious links, but I don't think they're going to be doing that much anymore. I imagine they actually want "bad" links to have a noticeable and negative effect. Ideally, it conditions webmasters to be more careful about their link-building. If this is the route they're sticking with, then they need to provide us with this tool.

brinked wrote:
What if you x out some links that you think may be hurting you. Maybe you dont recognize them or just have a suspicion they are hurting you, what happens if you shoot yourself in the foot and actually cause your site to drop even more? Can you re-allow those links? If you can, this will effectively let webmasters see what links work and what links dont work for rankings. "ok, if I disallow these links, my rankings improve, if I remove these, my rankings fall".

This is a pretty good point and probably a valid concern for Google, which may be why Mr. Cutts himself seemed somewhat reluctant about the idea.

arikgub wrote:
Ignore unnatural links and you need no tools.

This is true, but given the number of concerns and complaints, it's obvious that Google hasn't gotten that part right. Assuming they ever do get it right in the future, I don't see why providing an interim tool to help webmasters deal with the issue is such a crazy, nonsense idea.

Introduction of this tool is like a confirmation by Google that negative SEO exists and is a real problem.

A number of people have been saying this for quite some time; would you prefer that Google simply kept silent or actually denied the existence of negative SEO? It seems to me that would infuriate people more than these veiled admissions.

--
Ryan

atlrus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 2:23 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

Well, this proves what I and others have been saying lately - negative SEO is real.

Unfortunately it also proves the worst case scenario - Google has lost complete control over the algo, which has become too complicated for them to make any reasonable changes without a myriad of unexpected results. I will once again use my favorite analogy - the "butterfly effect", killing a butterfly in the past changes everything in the future. The same with the current algo - changes that are claimed to affect 0.1% of the websites set this forum on fire because everyone is affected.

In the past few months I have witnessed so much variation of search results, it's not even funny. It shows that Google is tweaking the algo a lot - and the changes are not what they are expecting. It's just basically a patch-work right now, this "tool" yet another attempt to salvage something that should clearly be scraped and redone from the ground up.

Not to mention that my suspicions are that this "tool" is just a placebo for the webmasters. It will simply give you the fake belief that you have some form of control and that you have a tool to fight this type of negative SEO. Of course it's not going to have a real effect at all. Are you that gullible to believe that Google would give you a way to manipulate the algo?!? Really? Did you just crawl from under a rock? You expect that Google will give you a real tool to let you "pick and choose" which links the algo uses for evaluating your website? Yeah, right! Good luck with that pipe dream...

rlange



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 2:47 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

atlrus wrote:
Are you that gullible to believe that Google would give you a way to manipulate the algo?!? Really?

There is precedence: the URL removal feature in Webmaster Tools.

You expect that Google will give you a real tool to let you "pick and choose" which links the algo uses for evaluating your website? Yeah, right!

You already have a measure of ability to "manipulate the algorithm" by placing those links in the first place. One problem is that others can do the same thing to manipulate the algorithm against you. Another is that you often have far less, if any, ability to remove those links.

While I think brinked's vision of "link tasting" is a valid concern, I also think this tool, in some form, is necessary.

--
Ryan

FranticFish

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 2:54 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

atlrus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 3:03 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

There is precedence: the URL removal feature in Webmaster Tools.


This is not even close. It's one thing to completely remove, let's say a page from the index (something you should be able to achieve yourself without any WMT , but by using robots.txt), a completely different to be given a tool to "tweak" how this page is ranked. This will never happen, although I can see how people could be duped into believing that the tool is working.

I also think this tool, in some form, is necessary.


No, it's not. You are well tricked into believing that it is.

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?

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 3:08 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

What if you x out some links that you think may be hurting you. Maybe you dont recognize them or just have a suspicion they are hurting you, what happens if you shoot yourself in the foot and actually cause your site to drop even more? Can you re-allow those links?

At a stab, no. Due diligence and all that.

Anyway, if I were Google, I would use this like the canonical tag- a strong hint. Disavowed and dodgy, fair enough. Disavowed but not currently suspect? Dampen like hell and feed into the new Paid Link detection algo that I've just written to utilise all this funky free data. Silently reinclude or nix as appropriate.

Capturing data in a meaningful way can be the only reason for a delay that I can see. I mean, a "block" icon and a virtual backend "nofollow" can hardly be that difficult, can it? Especially as they NF things on their own anyway.

Shaddows

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 3:11 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Yes. I've posted about it, I'm not sure it will be published though.

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.

Far more people lose out to rampant competitor link-buying than they do to hypothetical negative SEO.

atlrus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 3:12 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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


Excellent question.

If this tool is working at all, it would be in the lines of:

"Here is this list of links, now you be a good boy and tell us which ones you bought"

:)

J_RaD

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 3:17 pm on Jun 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

everyones best course of action is to not use any gun goog gives you.

any tool given is just used against the webmaster

atlrus

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4462064 posted 3:18 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).

Far more people lose out to rampant competitor link-buying than they do to hypothetical negative SEO.


Hypothetical, really? I remember we just had a discussion with you claiming that there is no such thing as "links can hurt you". Now Google comes out and plain admits it and you still sing the same song? You have been wrong more times than right, Shaddows, I think you should refrain for a while and sit this one out.

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