Google’s Matt Cutts announced the launch of a new Google Link Disavow Tool yesterday which has been much anticipated in the SEO industry. For those websites that have plummeted in the Google rankings as a result of lots of low quality, spammy in-bound links, this could be the alternative to having to build an entirely new website.
The problem with Google is that is keeps moving the goalposts in its pursuit of of the ‘perfect’ user experience. It used to be possible to fool the search engine into thinking that your website was the best thing since sliced bread just by adding a stack of hidden keywords to the bottom of your web page. Those days are long gone.
The next big thing was link building. Get as many links from other websites to your website as possible. The theory has long been that if Google sees lots of links on other websites that point to yours, then your website must be worthwhile and should be raised up in the rankings. This theory has generated a mass market for link builders; some good (white hat) and many bad (black hat).
It has reached the point where there are so many poor quality ‘toxic’ websites out there that getting a link from them can now actually damage your website rankings; and this is more common than you might suppose.
The problem for these sites is that once they’ve been penalised by Google, there’s no coming back from it. This is because it’s nigh on impossible to get bad quality links removed from blacklisted, poor quality websites. Bing brought a ‘disavow’ tool into play first, meaning that a list of toxic links can be submitted to the search engine so that they can remove them from their determination of how your website should be ranked.
The news that the Google has brought this party to town is potentially huge – depending on how they act on it.
Is it a trap?
And then of course there’s always the possibility that Google have created this tool in order to entrap black hat SEOs via their Webmaster Tools account. If someone submits a bunch of bad links they they (presumably) have been responsible for, Google will then know (by looking at the list of websites in the account) what other websites to consider for a penalty.
It reminds me of a story I heard about the entrapment of a group of graffiti artists. An advert was put in the paper inviting local graffiti artists to meet up in order to demonstrate their artwork. Lots of people arrived and they were all encouraged to sketch their ‘tags’ to demonstrate their style. In doing this they confirmed their identity and thus the source of all the graffiti in the neighbourhood. They were arrested and charged.
I like to think that Google wouldn’t be this devious…