Cutts announces disavow tool
Google has announced the launch of a new disavow links tool, allowing webmasters to undo bad SEO.
The tool was first announced by distinguished engineer Matt Cutts at a conference in Las Vegas yesterday, before an official Webmaster Central blog post revealed all the details. The tool - which is currently live in Webmaster Tools - allows users to specify certain links to their site that they want Google to ignore. Google said:
"If you've been notified of a manual spam action based on "unnatural links" pointing to your site, this tool can help you address the issue. If you haven't gotten this notification, this tool generally isn't something you need to worry about."
However, the blog post was also quick to point out that "this is a strong suggestion rather than a directive", while the recrawl and reindex process could take "multiple weeks" - in short, this is no quick fix.
Repairing the damage
The launch of a Google disavow links tool has been widely anticipated ever since Cutts hinted it was on the agenda in June 2012. In a shock development, Bing launched a disavow links tool first, but it is Google's tool that the SEO industry has been waiting for.
In the aftermath of Google's Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, many sites that had previously used black hat SEO techniques and low quality link building methods suffered devastating drops in rankings. According to the official blog post, "the primary purpose of this tool is to help clean up if you've hired a bad SEO or made mistakes in your own link-building", suggesting some of this damage could be undone. It could also help sites that have been victims of malicious negative SEO, although Google claims it already has measures in place to prevent this.
Natalie Booth, online marketing manager at theEword, said: "Google has effectively launched an 'undo' button for links, which will be invaluable for companies trying to repair their previous mistakes. Of course, prevention is better than cure, so it's important for companies to rethink their strategy as Google becomes increasingly focused on quality."