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Google releases 'Disavow links' tool to fix SEO spam

Use with care Google warns

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Google has used the PubCon conference in Las Vegas to release a "Disavow Links" tool, allowing webmasters dump links into their site that are hurting search rankings.

"Most people should not need to use this," said Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google. "We build our algorithms such that in most cases we handle things just fine. It's also an advanced tool, so be careful."

The new tool is designed for websites that have already been warned by Google that they have "unnatural" links pointing to their site, typically content farms for SEO gamers. These have most likely come from people either deliberately or accidentally hiring bad SEO firms that try and game the Chocolate Factory's search ranking systems.

As a first course of action, Cutts recommends contacting these sites to get the links removed manually. But with the new tool, a simple text file can be used to ask Google to ignore the link to a specific site, and any related domains as well.

But this tool comes at a price. If you get it wrong and ask to disavow a link, realize you've made a mistake, and try and get the link reinstated, Google will be doing extensive checks on the validity of the claim, so it may be a number of weeks before the link returns, if it ever does.

Cutt recommends using the “Links to Your Site” feature in Webmaster Tools to spot links that could be hurting search rankings and trying to sort out the problem internally before running to Google. ®

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