Have Links To Disavow? Google Says Google Webmaster Tools Link Report Is Enough?

Jun 3, 2013 • 8:43 am | comments (24) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Links Disavow Webmaster ToolsLast week I wrote about How Do You Uncover Your Spammy Links? There I said, when you want to disavow links or have them removed, using Google Webmaster Tools link report is probably not enough. You probably need to use third party tools as well.

Well, according to Google you may not need to use third party tools.

Spotted by @Marie_Haynes and @joehall, Aaseesh Marina from Google's search quality team said all you might need is Google Webmaster Tools "Links to Your Site" report.

Aaseesh said:

You can get a good idea of your backlink profile from the links provided in the 'Links to Your Site' section under 'Traffic' in your Webmaster Tools account. You can use that download a sample of your site's backlinks from there and remove any unnatural link you find.

Is that Google saying all you need is Google Webmaster Tools link report or do you really need more?

If you think about it, the links Google reports are the links Google knows about. Or does Google not report all your links? Are the reports very delayed or inaccurate? Those are all questions at the top of mind of link builders.

There is a pretty good conversation around these questions as well as how to best use the Google link tool to get at this data at Twitter.

Would you trust Google's link tool in this case?

Update: I asked Google's John Mueller this in a Google Hangout today and he confirmed that you do not need to use third-party tools and that Google Webmaster Tools is fine. He did say, sometimes third-party tools may help with cleaner reports but not needed.

Forum discussion at Twitter.

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Marie Haynes

06/03/2013 12:56 pm

I just use WMT links in order to get manual penalties removed and so far it is working well for me. I think that some confusion comes from the fact that in the past, the WMT links really were just a small sample of your site's links. But, a while ago, Google greatly increased the number of links that you get when you download your links from WMT. If what you are doing is trying to remove a penalty then using the links in WMT is enough. I never really understood why Google would require a webmaster to pay to use a tool in order to do this work. This is why I asked for clarification in the webmaster forum. Aaseech emailed me directly to tell me that WMT links are enough but that there could be some use for second party tools. We all know that ahrefs and majestic contain more links than WMT. And occasionally some of these links will be discovered by Google months down the road. So, if you are trying to do a thorough link audit then I could see the benefits of looking at as many links as possible.

Praveen Sharma

06/03/2013 12:58 pm

Surely you cannot trust only Google here. Else, it will kick you sooner or later with some of its algorithm update for this TRUST.

Michael Martinez

06/03/2013 01:10 pm

Okay, stop and think about what you're saying. Google tells you that you have "THESE LINKS" and you're assuming that "THOSE LINKS" (reported by someone else) are having some sort of effect on your site in Google's search results. The search engine knows more about what it knows than any third-party tool.

rize wordpress

06/03/2013 01:18 pm

Hi why GWT BackLinks data is not refreshing regularly it's showing 15 days old reports. My I know the actual updating time period ? Thanks

Praveen Sharma

06/03/2013 01:26 pm

You are right. But even search engine doesn't tell you which links gonna hurt you and which ones not (as links are not updated instantly in GWT account). By the time you know about those (depending upon GWT solely), you will be hit by that search engine only.

Michael Martinez

06/03/2013 01:31 pm

You're assuming the search engine hasn't already discounted the links you're finding in other sources. Using third-party tools to reverse-engineer what any specific search engine knows or is doing has always been a waste of time. This is why people struggle to get it right. You have to focus on what the search engine is looking at, not at what you believe it MAY look at somewhere down the line.

Praveen Sharma

06/03/2013 01:37 pm

You may be right at your end. But there is always a possibility that Google will discover a link some time (which you already found through some other tool) which can hurt you. So, it's better to use some more tools as well to be on the safer side.

Michael Martinez

06/03/2013 02:17 pm

Living in possibilities makes it very, very difficult to manage realities. Worrying about what Google might find and what it might do about that is not an optimal approach to managing search traffic. It's the SEO's job to manage the search engine's information about the Website, not to manage the Web for the search engine.

Contractor's Solutions .

06/04/2013 01:33 am

I think the real issue is that, in Google's own words, "sample of your site's backlinks....". It is only a SAMPLE, not ALL of your links.

Adam Robinson

06/04/2013 09:24 am

Its very simple Google. If you spot spam, or low quality links don't give them any value! This would stop all the black hat, as the time to add spammy links wouldn't be worth while. If you can detect spam, or low quality ignore them. This would be fair on everyone, especially the people who follow your guidelines. My friend was contacted by a SEO company claiming that he had a bad link profile, spammy black hat links. He has never done any link building because he has no need to. I have seen his link profile a few months ago and it was very, very healthy. However, over the last month his traffic has plummeted by 78%. He called me to look at his backlinks. There was forum signature spam and loads of it. This dodgy company claimed they could clean the bad links. I may be paranoid, but who put them there? It doesn't take a genius to figure that out! There's loads of crappy automated link building software out there, all it takes is somebody to point these links to your domain and boom the damage is done. Whoever at Google thought policing links this way is insane, as it punishes the legit webmaster.


06/04/2013 10:14 am

Why not manage the realities and then look at the possibilities too?

Link Juice

06/04/2013 11:16 am

If you wouldn't feel comfortable telling Google about a link, it's probably a link you want to get rid of. If you're doing a link cleanup you're going to be investing tonnes of time and then waiting months to be reconsidered. Why leave it to chance and just remove links reported by WMT? Surely with all that time and loss of revenue at stake it makes sense to look at every link you can find rather than removing some, waiting 6 months and then finding you've got to do it all again..

Michael Martinez

06/04/2013 01:06 pm

Possibilities are more numerous than realities and they don't pay the bills. Lotus eaters live in a dream world and don't take care of important matters.

Casey Markee, MBA

06/04/2013 02:09 pm

Will help with "cleaner reports" is an understatement. Loading the GWT export links into an outside analyzer (be it link research tools, seogadget, ahrefs, or link detox, etc) is just a smart practice. Google is NOTORIOUSLY slow in showing links and I've absolutely found "questionable links" in client profiles months in advance of when these links showed up in GWT. This article won't dissuade me one bit from continuing that practice.


06/04/2013 05:22 pm

That is how you prepare for updates like Penguin. If you don't look at what they are considering doing or working on you miss the chance to prepare your site before it is hurt. Google haphazardly changes what works. The only way to prepare is to try to reverse-engineer what they are doing.

Chris Green

06/05/2013 05:21 am

This was something John Muller confirmed last year (http://www.highposition.com/blog/google-disavow-links-tool/ ), but while there is still debate about the links shown in GWT, I can see why people are going to be reluctant to just use that source. After I spoke to John about the disavow tool (above link), he also added the following: “If you have unnatural links from pages that have been removed for web-spam reasons, I’d still list those in the disavow tool — you never know when the removal situation will change.” So whilst you may find what you need in GWT it clearly feels like a more temporary option - i.e. aren't you going to have to keep checking back to make sure they don't detect any more spammy ones?


06/05/2013 08:25 am

Is it really that easy? I think its still worth using other tools to see the bigger picture and disavow ones that Google have not found yet.


06/05/2013 02:23 pm

at the age old pond a frog leaps into water a deep resonance silence.........


06/05/2013 03:50 pm

What about when the dreams of Matt Cutts become a reality?

Michael Martinez

06/05/2013 11:15 pm

I'm not interested in Matt's dreams any more than I am interested in the insane paranoid bullshit that many people in the SEO community subscribe to. It's six of one, half dozen of the other to me -- and none of that has anything to do with search or search optimization.


06/06/2013 08:57 am

Fair enough. Possibilities can become realities which pay your bills and then some.

Joanna Lewis

06/13/2013 10:10 pm

You guys are talking as though Google hasn't found links that third party indexes have. In 2012 Google had 50,000,000,000 pages in its index at anyone time. Do you really think they can't see everything that the others can? The question remains, why, if the links shown in WMT are only a sample and Google says only these links need cleaning do they not care about links we can see in other indexes given that we must agree that Google can also see them?


08/16/2013 02:27 pm

i have the same problem my site rank are day to day loss in google search engine my site tv4stream[dot]com links to your site is Total links 700,764 so plz help about this matter. how solved this problem

Spook SEO

02/01/2014 05:03 pm

I think its not enough, why is it that some are against with this tool from Google? I was hit a bit by Penguin and I put my website stuck for some reasons. I had read a blog where the blogger completely counterfeits the Google Disavow Tool as she cited some disadvantage in using it. Can anybody hardly explain and contrast what is the risks and the advantage of using the disavow tool?

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