Strategically linking to other websites in your niche could help your website in many ways. Google and other search engines consider those relationships in the ranking of both of those sites. If two sites with decent reputations are linked, it can help Google determine the best ranking for relevant phrases. Google is paying a lot of attention, nowadays, to the relationships between linked sites in determining which sites are authority sites, which sites are trying to ‘game’ their system via link wheels or paid links, and which sites are legitimately striving to provide value for their visitors.
What happens when a spammy site links to your website in an effort to elevate its own reputation? In some cases (particularly with taboo subjects), this could be hazardous to your site’s reputation with search engines. That’s why Google created the Google Disavow Links tool.
The Google Disavow Links tool gives you a place to notify Google that an unsavoury site is linking to your site. Google can take your notification and investigate it. If it’s found to be negatively impacting your website’s rankings, Google can break the link.
Before You Start Using This Tool…
Not all links are evil. Some links pointing to your website could be beneficial and they could also be benign. You shouldn’t stress about every link that’s pointing to your site. You should, however, know what’s going on so that you can take action if any of the links are harming your rankings. Be aware that the process is manual and can take time.
If you’d like to see the tool, it’s at: http://google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main.
Google would prefer that you work with site owners, asking them to remove their links. Most will comply and it’s easy to see, in your website traffic reports, which sites are currently linking to you. If you’re not getting anywhere and you’re of the impression that certain links are hurting your site, it’s wise to use the tool or have your SEO company manage the process for you. (Chances are that they are already doing this as they work proactively when Google updates and tools are released)
When the Situation is Reversed…
What if you receive an email where you are asked to remove links that you’ve used in your own link building efforts? Some companies fear that this means their site is seen as spam. This isn’t always the case. A website owner that found your link may be over zealously reacting at the advice of others about link pruning. It’s wise to comply with their request. If you’re concerned, don’t hesitate to talk to us so we can help you sort through to determine whether or not there are problems with link building you have done in the past.
This new tool is further proof of the fact that Google will continually refine its strategies with SEO and online marketing to try to help the best sites continue to rise to the top of the rankings. If you work at SEO, customer experience, and strive to create a useful online site that helps those who arrive there, you’ll have a greater chance of receiving more organic visitors and of getting favourable rankings with the top search engines.