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Every Site should establish a Disavow File!



8:11 pm on Nov 1, 2012 (gmt 0)

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The advice from Google is wrong. In any competitive market sooner or later you could feel the full force of negative seo. By establishing a disavow file you show google you are in control of your links. By including the scraper sites that have your content you can keep ahead of the competition and if a negative seo attack happens you are well placed to amend your constantly updated file.

The Disavow File should be the first thing you think of when it comes to seo. There is no point building Rome when someone is trying to kill it from the start.


3:51 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I didn't miss those John, the 'only' statement isn't in the quotes you cited as a source either.

The statements MB made are accurate whether you like whom that makes him agreeable with or not, so please don't try to make it look like his statements are inaccurate when his summarizations of Google's Disavow Tool and the reason it was developed is every bit as accurate as your summarization of his posts.

You don't have to like everything everyone says, you're entitled to disagree with opinions, but it's really not cool to try and make it look like someone's statements are not accurate when they are, especially when you're not being any more accurate than he is, except to try and make it look like he's 'off base' in what he's saying.

There are many tools around the Internet that were developed for a specific reason but are used by people for other reasons or by those they were not specifically developed for and stating a specific reason for the development of a tool by no means says, 'Only the people it was developed for should ever use it.', what a statement about the development does is simply state the reason for it being developed.

It's a 'background statement', not a limitation of use and to think you would not be 'grouped in' with the people it was developed for if you bought a site and inherited the links is pretty narrow thinking, but it takes quite a while to type this stuff out, so some things are 'left to basic reasoning skills' at times (by me anyway).

Saying someone thinks you should not use it or it was not developed for you because you bought the site and didn't build the links is about as narrow sited as saying they think you shouldn't use it if you own the site and some shady SEO company you hired built the links ... You didn't directly build the links in either case, but common sense and a bit of simple reasoning would say you are one of the people it was developed for.

Personally, I don't think anyone should ever use the stinking thing, so there! (Now that's a limitation of use statement ... lol)


5:06 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

Trust me, I'm not trying to look cool, I'm far too old to be worried about that king of thing :-)

However, I come to WebmasterWorld to learn and understand. Folks on here, like MB, jecasc, tedster and yourself have far more experience at trying to understand Google, how their SERPS are built, SEO etc etc.

And I don't understand how given the post from Google jecasc can make the statement that the tool was 'designed specifically' for spammy webmasters.

I am trying to learn how jecasc reached that conclusion from the post and I cannot work it out. It's possible/probable that's more a reflection of my learning skills than anything else. But that's why I am here.


5:21 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

What I'm trying to say is, please, let's slow down and review what was officially announced and properly label opinion and speculation before speculation takes hold in some people's minds as canon, the truth.

As I mentioned what about if you bought a website in good faith that now appears to have spammy links?

I understand your point. But TheMadScientist parsed what I posted correctly, I didn't say it's only for spammers. IF you bought a site and were negligent in researching the backlinks and after you purchased the site it drops in the rankings and you receive an unnatural links warning or have been affected by something like Penguin, absolutely the link disavowal tool is something you may want to avail yourself of, after you have attempted to remove the negative links. Which is why I qualified my statement by saying in general because not everything is as clear cut as the difference between black and white.

What I think the TheMadScientist is trying to communicate to you is that some of the opinions expressed about the reasons for the development of the tool are not based on what was announced by Google. Here is an example:

What if a competitor creates spammy links to your site?

The tool was not created for sites that had links built by a competitor. Neither Matt nor the official announcement say, explicitly or implicitly, that the tool was created for any other webmaster but those who have incurred a manual penalty and/or have received a notice of unnatural links.

I believe that this tool's sole purpose is for you to tell Google about links that you believe are spammy.

I won't go to war to defend your right to believe that, but you are 100% entitled to your opinion. And you are right to label your opinion as a belief and not as something that was officially announced by Google. Google never said it was a general mechanism for notifying Google of spammy links.

So I get your first point, and I think TheMadScientist does too. I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but I think the issue is that you are insisting that the disavowal tool is a way "to tell Google about links that you believe are spammy" which sounds a lot like the Catholic confessional booth where you can pop in to tell the priest about actions that you believe are sinful... and then you're done (after a few Hail Mary's). Please correct me if I misinterpreted your statement and I apologize in advance if I have.

There seems to be a perception growing that the disavowal tool is a kind of tool for 1. influencing SERP position the same way they use title tags, in this case shedding scraper links or links perceived to be negative SEO. Those are links that TheMadScientist imo rightly implies are likely already discounted by Google's algorithm. Or 2. a convenient way to confess sins and move on.

That's not what was officially announced by Google. Obviously, Google is not omniscient and collateral damage happens (which is what the fine tuning is about after an algo change occurs), which is why I said, in general. Historically there have been innocent sites caught up in past algorithm actions.

Any other use of the tool can be considered outside of the parameters set for the tool and then we venture into speculation, i.e. if that constitutes an unnatural attempt to manipulate the rankings.

I dislike splitting hairs and quibbling but I'm glad we can do it here on WebmasterWorld in a civil manner. Thanks. :)


6:04 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Yeah, MB, you're right on with the 'some' part...

I think one of my biggest points is it's really really tough to sit here and think through and type out every possible application or aspect or use of a tool or anything else we do since everything is so site and situation specific, so usually common sense and situational specifics must be applied by individual readers to know if something will work for them or not.

Setting aside my, 'I'm not using this thing, because they should be doing their job and I've got better things to do position.', for a second and getting into 'general advice giving mode'...

This tool was, afaik, developed for those who have been sent an 'unnatural links' notice through either e-mail or WMT (see I didn't type 'or manually penalized' the first time and I'm not going to go back and put it in even though I realized it, because it's silly to split that hair. Just go with the point people.)

That's 'the official word' to the best of my knowledge, now, does that mean it should not be used in a case where a competitor created spammy backlinks and they cannot be removed by the owner of a site? Honestly, if your site's rankings are in the gutter and you've attributed the cause to spammy backlinks, whether you received a notice or not, and you've tried everything else to get them removed, then if you would not draw the simple and logical conclusion you should try the disavow tool, regardless of who built the links, really, truly, honestly, you will not be in this game very long.

Is that using it for the exact intended use? No, but I highly doubt anyone here with any experience at this 'game' would say to not give it a shot if you've tried everything else unsuccessfully and know the links are the issue with your rankings.

But, at the same time, is it good advice to say, 'You should dig through every link to every site you have and should disavow anything remotely questionable.'? In my opinion, that's not even close to good advice, because that's not at all along the lines of what the tool was designed for and there's Zero research on the effect of doing something along those lines, because it's too new, so at this time, I think that would be very poor advice, which may change in the future after more is know about the tool and it's integration/impact on rankings WRT using it in a way that's outside it's 'officially stated' intended use, but for now, saying go through you links and disavow anything just because you can is far from good advice in my opinion.


6:42 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I am trying to learn how jecasc reached that conclusion...

Let me answer directly...

Generally (almost always actually) 'unnatural backlinks' have to be built by someone.

Most competitors are not cool enough to go and build some backlinks for you, because if they don't get caught in the 'unnatural backlink' filter, then they just did you a favor.

It does happen where competitors try to engage in negative SEO or where someone like you buys a site and 'inherits' the links, but generally, to have unnatural backlinks, they have to be built by the site owner, so it's a fairly easy conclusion to say it's for 'spammy webmasters' (those with unnatural link patterns), because it's not often 'unnatural backlinks' will be built by anyone other than the site owner.


Let me draw a distinction that may seem like a 'hair split' but really isn't and I think should be understood by readers...

Unnatural Links !== All Spammy Looking Links

Why? Scraping (and other things) happen. They're natural these days ... EG Someone starts a directory and scrapes titles and descriptions from sites to 'seed' the directory, yours happens to be one of them. The directory may look spammy to a webmaster, but it's natural for that scraping to happen these days.

Unnatural is more along the lines of a link to your site appears on 5000 blog rolls in 24 hours ... Someone generally had to make that happen (usually the webmaster), because it's not 'natural' for 5000 blog owners to notice your site and add it to their blog rolls in a short period of time.

Spammy looking links happen naturally these days...
Unnatural looking links must be built by someone.


7:11 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I suspect that Mr Cutts was the sort of kid who knocked on doors and ran away..and stuck sticks in ants nests etc..I also suspect he'd be pretty good at poker..

We know he has a sense of humor..

Oh yeah..and I agree with jecasc, TMS etc..


7:13 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

negligent in researching the backlinks

I guess I'm guilty of that since I'm more concerned about building my site, giving great data quality for our products and taking care of business. I'm sure we all have time to search through endless spammy and sometimes dangerous pages to find the aholes linking to us whether we asked for it or not. Or say some joe blow has his own little home brew home page with links to sites he likes along with his hobby which is raising chickens... will our site now rank for chicken widgets?!?!?!

I could go on quite a rant here, but it's been a long week.
I'll just sum it up like this:

Since when did WE need to police the web for Google.

Maybe google needs to only spider sites that are approved in webmaster tools. And maybe they should only spider ecommerce sites that have very clear and defined contact information including phone numbers and ones not hiding behind private domain registrations and proxies. I hate getting out ranked by some template built website run by a guy in his garage selling widgets like ours on the weekends.

We've been around for over 15 years and never bought a link from another site.... Unless adwords counts? And yet I found hundreds of crappy mashup sites with links to us. Is it our fault that Google allows their own serps to be scraped and reused for MFA sites. I have much better things to do than to have to tell Google "Hey, that link on that russian p0rn site/mashup I disavow"..... as if I did something wrong.


11:38 am on Nov 3, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Bewenched, I think you're fine and right to not do anything about what appear to be (are) spammy looking links ... Check out the addition to my previous if you want to see more of the reasoning behind why.


1:00 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member

I wish I were fine. Every time there's a drop in traffic that's noticeable the owner comes in glaring at me as if I caused this to happen.... my job is likely at risk because of an ill tempered algo, or maybe it's that mean kid with a stick poking our site.

Here's the most recent week of analytics data on the site. oct23-nov2
Avg. Visit Duration All Traffic Daily Oct 23, 2012-20%

59.04% Bounce Rate
UP 18% expected:48.12%-51.82%

Google is sending us CRAP traffic.


1:18 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member themadscientist is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Interesting ... I highly doubt disavowing links is the answer though, unless you've received an 'unnatural links' notice.

If you check the Nov. Updates thread, you'll find you're not alone in the wrong traffic being sent, but I really doubt the links are the answer. I'm sure it's not much consolation, but I'm guessing the answer is on their end ... It doesn't make Google look good to send visitors to the wrong place like that either, so I'm also guessing they'll find a fix for it before too long.

And, believe me, I do know what you mean about people thinking it's you who did (or didn't do) something when there's a change in traffic ... I actually dropped down to only a couple sites I work on, and one of the big reasons is I got tired of having to educate everyone I worked for about everything search related so they would have some clue about how difficult it is to maintain a constant number when the rules are unposted and in a constant state of change.

I think the all time most frustrating conversation was along the lines of:

Them: What happened to traffic on 'blah'?
Me: Something changed...

Them: Well what was it?
Me: I don't know yet...

Them: When will you know?
Me: [pulling hair] When I figure it out!

It's like people don't 'get' every time something major changes and there's a traffic impact we have to figure out what it was on our own, because there's not a 'text book' for doing this stuff.

Anyway, good luck getting the traffic back up...


1:47 am on Nov 4, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

I don't put it down to "meanness"..but to experimentation and curiosity to see what happens..and the desire to "thin" or "presort" sections of their data so as to make it faster to return,( Amit's "thing" )..they are "discarding"( temporarily ) more of their ever increasing crawled data before it makes GSERPs..and then presenting multiple choices to see which of them each of us ( I do not include site owners in that "us", we do not matter to them ) prefers..

They as individuals and their embryonic AI, are learning things about what humans look for and what they do and how they interact in the public daylight and also the private darkness, that previously were reserved for what religions claimed that their omniscient gods could see about humans..

The whole process , including their reactions to what they are learning and their interactions with those who do not work within their search engine is / are very interesting to observe..

The technical questions as to "the hows" , "the whys" , and "the whats", are interesting, but not nearly so interesting as the philosophical issues that the actual existence for the first time of such an entity and it's creators, privy to so much data in real time about us all brings..

Robert Charlton

2:57 am on Nov 5, 2012 (gmt 0)

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

Un ange passe... or at least (not to be too literal) we hope it is an angel. LG, thanks for that wonderful post.
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