Excellent newsToday is a good day!

Despite waking up to the sound of drain drumming against the window and battling with the vestiges of a (thankfully) short bout of man-flu, my morning scan of the twittersphere heralded some extremely welcome news.

Google has officially launched a disavow tool. I have been championing the need for this service since Google started to take a much more aggressive stance against poor quality links and I am relieved to see the big G follow in the steps of Bing and provide the tool.

There are quite a few caveats that you should be aware of and Matt Cutts goes to great lengths to encourage people to use the tool with extreme care, as can be seen in his video:

Why am I so pleased to see this tool as does it not encourage the spammers to push as hard as they can and then just disavow any links that land them in trouble?

I welcome it with open arms as I believe that it will serve a number of beneficial purposes:

  • effectively kill off negative SEO
  • provide Google with a list of spammy link sites, which will be the final nail in the coffin for link farms / networks
  • help ethical SEO agencies to work with clients to undo the damage that can be caused by ill advised link building activities

The tool should be used as a last resort and I believe that every effort should be made to reduce dodgy links, as that will always be the best way to alienate yourself from them, but anyone with any experience of trying to remove poor quality links will know that it is always extremely frustrating and is next to impossible in a large percentage of cases.

Matt Cutts also mentions in the video that it is a ‘strong signal’ rather than an absolute rule and that it can take weeks to have any effect, so don’t expect instant miracles, but I am relieved to see that it has been launched as it should help to eliminate the spectre of negative SEO.

Personally, I think that 2012 has been one of the most interesting (challenging?) years of my SEO career. Whilst I always welcome Google’s attempts to stamp out spam, the more aggressive stance that we have seen this year has undoubtedly caused some collateral damage and I have always felt that it encouraged negative SEO without the ability to have a communication channel to inform Google of any suspect activity.

I spoke about the kafkaesque nature of Google in an interview with Econsultancy back in June. Whilst there remains room for improvement in overall transparency and communication levels, I see the disavow tool as a huge leap in the direction, so thank you Google!

Negative SEO is dead. Long live ethical SEO!


  • Andre Pitt

    Anyone with any experience of trying to remove poor quality links will know that it is always extremely frustrating and is next to impossible in a large percentage of cases.

    • http://www.browsermedia.co.uk admin

      We would agree entirely with you Andre, which is why the disavow tool is such a welcome (and overdue) feature of Webmaster Tools.

  • http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ Larry Kim

    I don't know if we can declare Negative SEO dead. That would require that a webmaster know how to use the disavow tool to combat/disavow spammy links. It's also quite hard to find the spammy links in the first place, if you have a million links in your link profile.

    I think if anything, the new disavow links tool just proves that negative SEO exists, and is a serious issue.


  • Uday Kiran

    when penguin update was released from Google, at that time negative SEO came into play, where u can pull your competitors down by doing some negative seo tactics.., for that reason Google again came up with disvow link tool.., its a quite helpful tool.., but if the website is not worthy where the link is present.., google would had ignored it..,

  • Seo Toronto

    It’s good but it would be more appropriate if the tools come up with some more features as it's quite difficult for large website to find which links are spammy or creating problems. Negative SEO will exist because for webmaster it’s quite difficult to choose which links are creating problems in present time or which can affect our website in near future

  • Darren

    The new Disavow Links tool works from the bottom up. A more efficient use of a web master’s time would be to work from the top down.

    Instead of disavowing tens of thousands of NSEO links, google should let webmaster’s disavow search queries that are in appropriate, and then Google can take downstream action. This could be done very easily in Google Webmaster Tools. If Google starts sending traffic for “free sex” to a business website, the webmaster could just disavow that query, instead of spending days researching links and preparing a list for Google. Google already has the links list— if we can disavow the query, both Google and the Webmaster will be more effective.