Google's Matt Cutts: Don't Worry About Bad Links, Just Disavow Them

Aug 8, 2013 • 8:20 am | comments (33) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Disavow Machete ManIn one of his shortest video responses, Matt Cutts, the head of search spam at Google, answered the question:

Should I be worried if a couple of sites that I don't want to be associated with are linking to me?

He said as long as you disavow the links or the domain that has the links pointing to your site that you do not want to be associated with, then it will all be fine. He said, as long as you've taken those steps [disavow] then "I wouldn't worry."

Here is the video:

Matt did warn that when you do disavow, you should do so likely at the domain name like you would when you use a machete.

I am sure many webmasters have disavow and still didn't see much of a difference and there are plenty of reasons for that.

Forum discussion at Google+.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for machete man

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08/08/2013 12:31 pm

could you explain these Plenty of Reasons?

Barry Schwartz

08/08/2013 12:32 pm

ugh, really?


08/08/2013 12:37 pm

From this point on we know for 100% that Matt lies.


08/08/2013 01:44 pm

This should never have been the responsibility of webmasters - seems like Google (in all its self-proclaimed glory) can't do its own job properly without crowdsourcing it

Jim Roarke

08/08/2013 01:55 pm

Don't worry, Barry. Writing more than 150 words per article can only be good for SEO!

Barry Schwartz

08/08/2013 01:55 pm

I wrote about this several times. Why do I have to keep repeating myself. That is for a different post.


08/08/2013 02:51 pm

Why should Barry explain? It's been covered in endless webmaster forum discussion that disavowing does not work for algorithmic penalties. It's a known fact.

Marie Haynes

08/08/2013 03:06 pm

I find it interesting that Google has repeatedly said that the disavow tool should not be used by most webmasters and really should only be used if you have a manual penalty (or *perhaps* Penguin)...and yet now Matt is recommending sites use it whenever they see bad links pointing to their site. What I have found is that the average site owner has no clue what a bad link is. I see site owners wasting time trying to disavow things like askives, mrwhatis, dmoz scrapers and the like. In cases like Matt is talking about it's probably obvious that you don't want that link (i.e. from a porn site) but I can see site owners going crazy with the disavow tool and potentially doing more harm than good.


08/08/2013 03:27 pm

Matt Cutt's first statement regarding disavow tool: - Oct 16, 2012: "If you're not doing aggressive SEO like weird networking stuff... this is not a tool you should use under any normal circumstances. I really want to get this across. Most people should not need to use it... A very small amount of people, like getting these unnatural link warnings..."


08/08/2013 03:33 pm

What he told you in this video was the truth.


08/08/2013 04:05 pm

Google should know which links you want to 'count' and which links you don't?

Marie Haynes

08/08/2013 04:05 pm

That's exactly the quote I was thinking about when I saw this video.


08/08/2013 04:06 pm

matt cutts inside

John E Lincoln

08/08/2013 07:40 pm

Whatever Matt, well then why are the penalties and why are people loosing traffic left and right for bad links. So now we have to comb through our links every day... Man.

That Guy

08/08/2013 07:54 pm

Recently a competitor just spammed my site with 25,951 links from 1,130 domains. Glad there is a way to disavow domains, instead of having to submit all 25,000 links. That would be a hot mess.


08/08/2013 08:31 pm

sorry, matt cutts. but it not work. your disavow tool is buggy or even machete domains disavow (looks like you provide only few urls from domain) is not enough

Mike Kalil

08/08/2013 08:48 pm

Of course not. It should just not count the bad ones for anything instead of relying on the disavow tool. The webmaster shouldn't have a say in what links get counted, but they shouldn't have bad ones used against them, especially if they're not even responsible for them.


08/08/2013 08:57 pm

Matt Cutts is a paid liar, he lies constantly and forgets his previous lies: "If you're not doing aggressive SEO like weird networking stuff... this is not a tool you should use under any normal circumstances. I really want to get this across. Most people should not need to use it... A very small amount of people, like getting these unnatural link warnings..." Don't ruin your site for Bing, Google is going to drive you out of business anyway if they could.

Jan Dunlop

08/08/2013 09:08 pm

Great News! So now we HAVE to watch our backlink profiles and disavow anything we suspect is bad otherwise we are automatically labelled as GUILTY? What happened to build the best website you can? No time for that anymore :(

Blaze Itj

08/09/2013 03:13 am

Good article but I still be believe Google's approach is very flawed. When they say relevant search, sometimes the people they punish are the ones truly relevant so they do their searches a disservice by putting mediocre results ahead of more relevant results just because they are mad a company might have syndicated their articles across the web. For instants - people may want to start a certain type of business. Punished company A who was number one may have a truly detailed plan to really help people but now a person who has no industry experience now ranks ahead and all they talk about is generalizations with no real solutions. The users of Google suffer. Google results are terrible right now period. People like the theory of what their algorithms are supposed to do but in reality the quality they seek is more elusive now then ever. I've used the Disavow tool and nothing.

I aint no losah

08/09/2013 03:16 am

"Writing more than 150 words per article can only be good for SEO!" But bad for Google if Barry ever asks a tough question for them. Hey Barry, how come Google's paid clicks increase majorly after each update? Best for the user, eh Barry? Don't answer this or your handlers at Google might not invite you to their cocktail parties.

Barry Schwartz

08/09/2013 09:58 am

I've asked that question here also.


08/09/2013 10:32 am

"a disservice by putting mediocre results ahead of more relevant results" You M*R0N, Google wants to increase clicks on ads so mediocre results = more clicks on ads. It's by design. Don't listen to JewGlass boy /Google plant and Mutt Cutts; Google is rigged to increase clicks on ads.

simon hetherington

08/09/2013 11:28 am

I still think that its a fishing exercise by Google. Disavowing links does nothing to help your results, thats a given fact, it just helps Google identify sites that they should be de-indexed. When enough people disavow a domain it gets de-indexed, but is this going to improve the backlink profiles of the sites that ratted them out. Probably not because Google didn't even know they were bad until they were told through the Disavow tool.


08/09/2013 12:04 pm

So...Google is supposed to know which ones you consider to be 'bad' and which links you consider to be good? How is Google supposed to know which links are the bad ones? All you did was change the words around, you still seem to expect Google to know what you think of each link...

Blaze Itj

08/09/2013 01:27 pm

Who are you calling a M*ron you douche bag. I know what Google's plan is to increase ad revenue. Why else would they even let brands put up non-relevant ads but to drive even the click rates up. That is another topic altogether. Save the name calling because I'm sure you wouldn't do it in my face. Yes Google is rigged. I'm simply saying they are calling what they are doing quality and it is not quality. It is BS. So we are actually agree so I don't know why you came with the insult. Save it for someone else because it only makes you a M*RoN

Mike Kalil

08/09/2013 01:30 pm

No. The webmaster shouldn't have any say in which links count. Google knows which links are bad already because it penalizes sites for having them. Just don't count them for anything and this problem will go away. It's not the webmaster's job to determine which links are good and bad. Even if you don't do link building, you'll still have bad links pointing to your site. We shouldn't have to waste time disavowing them. I don't get why this isn't the case. The situation is getting Kafka-esque.

Canada SEO

08/09/2013 03:14 pm

Don't Worry About Bad Links, Just Disavow Them ? - Did anyone know that the back-link building ratio in Google is 20% niche related to 80% non niche related? This back-link mixture is what black hat SEO's are using, it sneeks under Google radar because of the 20% niche related links. The front page of Google search is full of them! Its a fact. search "SEO services" you ll see 80% non niche related links pointing to any top 10 site.

Montse Cano

08/14/2013 09:12 am

We've been trying to do so for the past month and got manually penalised, even when there were a few links that were and are being removed. Another thing is the amount of people who give you a nasty reply sometimes.

Spook SEO

01/26/2014 03:14 pm

Hi Barry! Yes indeed. Many webmasters have disavow and still didn't see any differences. Some SEOs would say that disavow tool wont really work. Take this for example, what if there are scammers who have thousands of links pointing to our site and these links are from different countries where in fact we just want to target America? I think it would be very difficult for us to disavow these links.


01/27/2014 10:21 am

Hi Marie, So would you recommend not disavowing dmoz scrapers and askives? Surely although they're automated, they're still harmful links?

Marie Haynes

01/27/2014 03:07 pm

Hi Ruth. I wouldn't say that those links are harmful. Google only wants to penalize for links that were made with the intention of manipulating the search engine results. I just ignore the type of link that you're talking about and it's working so far for me in regards to getting penalties removed. I might make an exception if for some reason someone was able to sneak a keyword anchored link into Dmoz (It can happen from time to time.) The obvious question then is what about scraper sites that have scraped ezine articles and keyword anchored press releases? Those DO need to be removed because the page that was scraped contained links that were made with the intentions of manipulating Google.


05/27/2014 03:01 pm

LoL, Google is supposed to know and does know. Obviously the sites that webmasters think are good and bad are going to be the sites that Google thinks are good and bad... Unless you are trying to sabotage a website which is against Google guidelines.

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