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The author

Anthony Kenny

SEO Strategy Manager

The disavow tool was released by Google on the 17th of October. As a bit of a recap this new tool allows users to disavow incoming links to their site via Webmaster Tools. Off the back of many algorithm updates (namely Penguin see here and here for more info on these) aimed at penalising sites that use spammy link building practices, the whole landscape of SEO has shifted in a way that Webmasters have become very cagey about the types of links pointing into their sites – an rightfully so as the consequences can be very damaging.

So after much pressure to release a disavow tool – something Bing were much quicker to roll out – Google finally released the tool. Now the problem with a new tool like this is that people can jump the gun and begin using it before they fully understand how it works.

Based on this we advised in our post that webmasters should still aim to remove links at the source and that any attempts at using the tool should be done so in a considered way i.e. not in a blind bit of panic. Well, two weeks on and Google have echoed these exact sentiments stating:

"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…. 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…."

Further to this, Google recommend that you don't simply skip straight to using the tool if manual action is taken on your site:

"Google can look at the snapshot of links we saw when we took manual action. If we don’t see any links actually taken down off the web, then we can see that sites have been disavowing without trying to get the links taken down."

So all in all, it's important that you attempt to remove links at the source because it will:

a)    Eradicate the problem at the root

b)    Help build a better case when disavowing and submitting reconsideration requests and ensure your disavow request is approved

c)    Speed up the process – remember Google state that it can take "several weeks" from when a disavow request is submitted and action is taken - so if time = money then get contacting sites!