Google has added a new option to its Webmaster Tools that lets site owners worried about negative SEO hit back by disavowing specific links or entire websites.
Low quality or spammy link-backs to a website impact its PageRank. While site owners may have control over some of these link-backs, it may not be possible to take other pages down. In fact, it is not completely unheard of competitors introducing low-quality link-backs to negatively impact the PageRank of a website. Obviously, the webmaster had no control over such pages. Until now.
Using the new disavow option, webmasters can instruct Google to ignore any link-backs to their website from select pages or entire domains. This can be done by going to the new Disavow links page under Webmaster Tools and specifying the pages/ domain in the specified format.
Wondering if you should use this option? Google has this handy guide:
If you’ve ever been caught up in linkspam, you may have seen a message in Webmaster Tools about “unnatural links” pointing to your site. We send you this message when we see evidence of paid links, link exchanges, or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines. If you get this message, we recommend that you remove from the web as many spammy or low-quality links to your site as possible. This is the best approach because it addresses the problem at the root. By removing the bad links directly, you’re helping to prevent Google (and other search engines) from taking action again in the future. You’re also helping to protect your site’s image, since people will no longer find spammy links pointing to your site on the web and jump to conclusions about your website or business.
If you’ve done as much as you can to remove the problematic links, and there are still some links you just can’t seem to get down, that’s a good time to visit our new Disavow links page.
In case you need helping figuring out what website to disavow, Google’s got you covered:
One great place to start looking for bad links is the “Links to Your Site” feature in Webmaster Tools. From the homepage, select the site you want, navigate to Traffic > Links to Your Site > Who links the most > More, then click one of the download buttons. This file lists pages that link to your site. If you click “Download latest links,” you’ll see dates as well. This can be a great place to start your investigation, but be sure you don’t upload the entire list of links to your site – you don’t want to disavow all your links!
Before you start using this option, it might be worth your while to watch this video. Also check out the FAQ on the Google Webmaster Central Blog.