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October 18, 2012

Google Launches Tool to Rid Sites of Link Spam

Google has a new tool in its arsenal to rid the Web of shady search engine optimization (SEO).

The search engine has introduced a disavow tool to enable users to eradicate link spam from their sites.

The new tool was created to aid sites that have already received a warning from Google of “manual spam action based on unnatural links.” The tool is meant to be a trump card of sorts — once played, it will eliminate ignominious or inconsequential links that can hurt a site’s page rank.

“By removing the bad links directly, you’re helping to prevent Google (and other search engines) from taking action again in the future,” Google Webmaster trends analyst Jonathan Simon wrote in a blog post. “You’re also helping to protect your site’s image, since people will no longer find spammy links pointing to your site on the Web and jump to conclusions about your website or business.”

Once a site owner has exhausted all avenues to manually eliminate the inappropriate links, it is time to use the “disavow links” tool, Simon said. Those using the tool will be prompted to select their site and then upload a text file containing the aberrant link. From there it is in Google’s hands.

When making use of the new tool, Google recommends users double-checking the links they have uploaded to ensure good URLs were not copied to the text file. Although good links can be reinstated after being removed, the process is not a quick one.

“The vast, vast majority of sites do not need to use this tool in any way. If you’re not sure what the tool does or whether you need to use it, you probably shouldn’t use it,” Simon wrote.

“We built this tool for advanced webmasters only. We don’t recommend using this tool unless you are sure that you need to disavow some links to your site and you know exactly what you’re doing.”

Learn more about the disavow tool on Google’s Help Centre page.

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