Google To Let Webmaster Report Bad Incoming Links

Jun 7, 2012 • 8:54 am | comments (35) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Block Unwanted Links In Webmaster ToolsThis comes as no surprise at all, except for why in the world Google waited so long to come out with a tool to disavow or block or report bad incoming links to your web site.

Yes, as we discussed in Win/Win: Block Unwanted Links In Google Webmaster Tools - Google should without a doubt create a tool for webmasters who think or know they were hit by an inorganic link penalty to tell Google these are the links and please stop counting them.

Removing these links after they are pointing to your site is a hard thing. Negative SEO is more of a concern then ever. So why shouldn't Google add this? Webmasters want it and Google could benefit from it.

The only concern, as I mentioned, it really isn't a real win/win. It is a form of mass community 'outing' without it being felt as outing anyone. It is one SEO pointing a finger indirectly at another. This is a sore topic for the SEO community.

That being said, I am surprised it took so long and as I said in the comments two weeks ago, "I really think it will happen within the next 6 months." I guess I was right because Google's Matt Cutts said so in the You&A with Matt Cutts session that "Google will work on that [a disavow link tool] in the next few months." See time stamp 4:17:23 PM and 4:48:52 PM in my live blog coverage.

I am a little sad to see so many SEOs excited for this on one hand but on the other hand, it can really help both the webmaster and Google.

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

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Alistair Lattimore

06/07/2012 01:00 pm

My concern about this originally, as with many others, is that it represents a way for a website owner to potentially spam and then simply undo the damage if they get penalised. We're not to know how Google will implement this feature, it might turn out that they throttle the service, in that you can only disavow X many links per month or a sliding scale based on the size of your current link profile & anticipated organic future growth.

Annie Cushing

06/07/2012 01:49 pm

I became a proponent of this when I started to talk to business owners whose previous SEO companies/consultants/in-house SEOs built links that eventually tanked them in search. I don't care so much about the large corporations with deep pockets that knew the risks they were assuming by talking a walk on the wild side. It's the business owners who took out a second mortgage to pay for SEO services just to be left bleeding out by Penguin I care about. To give these SMBs the ability to offset these damages without having to shell out thousands of dollars to an SEO agency that may or may not get them cleaned up is a step in the right direction, I think. This could provide an affordable solution that will ultimately clean up the SERPs and give companies a chance to get back in the game.


06/07/2012 02:42 pm

Will we be paid for this work? It's Google's work.


06/07/2012 02:56 pm

I am actually slightly disappointed by this.. still feels that google should simply discredit thost dubious links instead of asking site owners to tell them which links to discredit.. Feels like we are moving backward..


06/07/2012 02:59 pm

Who will check this?

William Vicary

06/07/2012 03:09 pm

I welcome this change for the most part, however I do have a couple concerns: first, spam links definitely help in a lot of scenarios, I can see websites tanking in the SERPs after wrongly flagging a link as "bad" which may be helping - what is a bad link? secondly, is this going to be like the nofollow tag? Are webmasters to be expected to make these changes? I really hope not but I can see it coming!

Dewaldt Huysamen

06/07/2012 04:14 pm

Wonder if SEOs will use this to determine what linking factors Google is looking at most, let me explain: So a SEO has many different RTLD sites with different C block ip's and can quickly change contextual links or blog roll links, the amounts and anchor text. Now they use this tool to say hey I do not want these links to count and if their rankings go up then they know which way the algo tends to score most?

Joel Mackey

06/07/2012 04:31 pm

Do you think they'll make it useless like you suggested previously Barry? Basically a button to press that does nothing but it's just a suggestion? I really do feel like this is Google Crowdsourcing SEO's for free work. It honestly makes no sense for them as a company to produce this tool and have it work. If it did, spammers could spam until they get hit with algorithm changes & then disavow any bad links. What's the point of ranking a site lower for spammy links or black hat links if the webmaster can just go and flag those links and remove them from the calculation? I liken this to going around to a bunch of incoming inmates and giving them get out of jail free cards. Here, we're going to stick you in jail, but if you get sick of it, just use this card and you're good to go. :S


06/07/2012 04:32 pm

I have to agree with you here Annie, having a degree of control over a link profile definitely has its benefits, there is no easy route beyond contacting each site in turn (to the power of how many thousands?) or even dumping a page. There are those among us that would say ignore the crap links and keep building out the quality.If Neg SEO does become a defining factor over the competition I do not want to spend all of my days trying to contact sites for removal, when the evil just pumps out another 50k on their whim. I am in the "right direction" corner. Doing Googles work? Probably, enpowering control against Negative SEO (Still have not seen this proven yet) a big +1

Barry Schwartz

06/07/2012 04:38 pm

I don't think they will make it useless.

Deepak Kumar Das

06/07/2012 05:06 pm

Negative marketing is on the rise and removing bad link neighborhood those were being created before Google penguin update is much difficult task. So better to have a such a tool to notify Google about negative links pointing to one's domain.


06/07/2012 05:25 pm

I'm still wondering about the impact that the age of a link has. I suppose this will finally be a way of testing this as well. I'm pretty sure that fresh low value links will have a bigger negative impact than 10 year old low value links (the ones that are still there). Also what happens if a site you got a link from a year ago gets hacked and filled with links to viagra sites, does that once perfectly legit link now do me harm? I think Google just needs better communication on this all round.


06/07/2012 11:02 pm

As others have said I see this feature being abused by site owners who spam links but than disavow links after being caught. But hey, that's just me. I'm sure Google has thought of this possibility and is ready for it.

Jason Mailley

06/07/2012 11:36 pm

Google might be shooting itself in the foot with this one. Agreed if negative SEO exists, any webmasters should be able to defend itself against bad links. However, how can anyone manually disavow links at the rate blackhat seo tools such as Xrummer creates them? A $500,00 spam tool such as xrummer can literally create thousand of links per hour. I don't know any small or medium (or even big) business able to handle the task of manually removing 10-20 or 100,000 links per months. The temptation any decent human being will have will be to mark all links as bad, and if Google takes these reports into consideration, the whole PR and linkjuice concept are at stake. A lot of non-spammy links will falsely be considered spammy and as non-spammy websites start to go down in the serps, so will Google search relevancy. A lot of SEO's have brought the suggestion of allowing the removal of links in webmaster tools, in fact Dan Thies himself got hit with a negative seo campaign and was suggesting it, but when you think outside the box, allowing any webmaster to vote links down will be a disaster for everyone. On top of that, nobody will want to link anymore, scared that newbies will vote them down.

Peter Watson

06/08/2012 12:31 am

I think this is a big step in the right direction for Google! Sure, it is not going to be perfect for everyone, but in the majority of cases this is going to be a great tool. Having the control over inorganic/unnatural links pointing to your site......who can argue with that! Sure there are tools that can point thousands of inorganic/unnatural links to a site (negative seo), but what would you rather, emailing the webmasters of those sites requesting your link be removed, or, block them in your GWT? Um, I know what I would prefer. And yes, it would be perfect if Google automatically 'devalued' any inorganic/unnatural links pointing to a site instead of penalizing sites for having a spammy link profile, but once again, this isn't the case, they do penalize or get hit by Penguin, so, having the ability to block links in GWT at this point is the best solution! Will we be paid???? Sure, our sites will be rewarded with a healthy link profile.


06/08/2012 02:16 am

"nobody will want to link anymore.." I think most people that you link to (if it's valid and adds value) will recognize that your link is appropriate. This tool wouldn't scare me from linking to a resource that is beneficial for my readers. All the worry you have about negative SEO and what xrummer can do still exists if this tool isn't produced. Nothing changes in that respect.

John Grover

06/08/2012 03:31 am

no, it can only get better ~ with improvements and time.


06/08/2012 08:06 am

Your payment will be a better serp position. If you don't want that payment then don't do the work. Simple really.


06/08/2012 09:50 am

Imagine marking millions of bad links if someone spammed you Oo

John Britsios

06/08/2012 12:58 pm

If they want to get it right, I would expect to see a feature where webmasters will have the opportunity to tell Google that they abstain any responsibility or/and are against those inbound links, but at the end will be entirely responsibility of Googles to decide if the links will be devaluated or not. A similar approach like with attributed links with the "nofollow".

Vikas Uttam

06/08/2012 04:35 pm

If its great news for SEO Companies all around


06/09/2012 09:14 am

i want to know some badlinks about my site. :(

Dave Fowler

06/09/2012 09:30 am

Overall I think this is a good move and hopefully should discourage future negative SEO. However, I assume they'll let you disavow links at the domain level as well as by individual link. If you needed to alert Google about an unauthorised/paid blog sidebar link you wouldn't want to list every single linking URL.

Lee hodson

06/09/2012 09:43 pm

Fantastic, I can get rid of all those great backlinks my competitors have :D Excellent move, Google. Thank you. [ sarcasm alert ] It's not a good idea. Not, unless the only person reporting the bad links is the person who owns the site with bad links pointing to it.

Mike Pannell (Dallas Realtor)

06/10/2012 12:24 am

If you where going to block links when they bring this out what would you look for when blocking them?

Jerry Mosher

06/22/2012 04:43 pm

It would be a full time job to evaluate and disavow links if you were actually being hit with a negative SEO campaign. The best solution as most have already said is for Google to just discredit the links and pass no value as if they were nofollow. Matt Cuts has said things in the past that weren't true and in this case he didn't say that the tool would be created, only that they were discussing it. After all the negative talk about the subject and the unintended promotion of negative SEO I really don't think it's an option to let links negatively effect a site when removing their value should bring spammy sites down by itself.

Brad Dalton

07/04/2012 07:33 am

Bing already has this tool because they are serious about looking after webmasters and domains. Google sees this as losing control

Dimitris Kt

07/04/2012 07:30 pm

Negative seo is out there and is cheap. They go to fiverr and buy 1000 links for 5 usd and build links in 1 day. So they can easily destroy or hurt your rankings...It was about time to have the removal tool so that we can protect ourselves from black hat tactics


07/07/2012 04:47 am

This would obviously have to be built inside of Google Webmaster Tools for sites you've verified ownership of.


07/07/2012 04:50 am

I doubt it will be so transparent such that you'll immediately see your rankings bump back after disavowing that one link that was penalizing you.

Lara Caine

07/12/2012 07:53 am

I'm seeing people continuing to do well out of bad link profiles, so what's the point?


07/24/2012 11:50 am

Why are you sad to see so many seo's excited for the disavow tool? Is it because you're sad that so many seo's built inorganic links? Or, is it because you're sad that google is the way it is?

Altinkum Homes

07/31/2012 08:14 am

Almost two months on and still this tool has not appeared, nor does anyone seem to be really talking about it now. Is there no news anywhere?


08/12/2012 01:06 am

Recently at the arse end of negative SEO, the first 1200-1500 links i noticed didnt seem to have any effect on my site- i assume my existing links had enough weight and trust to negate the attack, but another 3700 odd links hit my site and that was the end, site is now not visible for 3 of the keywords i was dominating my niche with, my other keywords are fine as they were not used in the nagative seo attack... spent last 14 days requesting removals, building a few more decent links, shown my efforts to google and all 3 times i have been responded too with the generic reconsideration reply.

Spook SEO

01/03/2014 12:26 am

Better late than never i guess, disavow tool is not perfect and it still requires us to do tons of work in order to make the bad links disappear, but thank God they finally released it, at least we now have a way out of the bad backlinks mess.

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