Waiting for the other Google Shoe To Drop

Search engine optimization (SEO)Prior to Google Penguin, how other sites linked to your site didn’t matter. What mattered to Google was how you linked out from your site. Penguin dropped and now, how other sites linked to your website can impact your rankings. Penguin was very harsh. Lots of websites got hammered hard because they were very sloppy in how they built anchor links. One common pattern was to use the same ‘main keyword’ anchor text for the vast majority of a site’s backlinks. This is hardly a ‘natural’ backlink profile from the perspective of Google. The fallout was so devastating that Google, in what seemed at the time was an act of mercy, released the Disavow tool to help us SEOs out. But was it real help?

Trojan horse or real helpful tool?

Anyone with more than two brain cells can see that Google Webmaster Tools’ Disavow tool can be used as a crowdsourcing device. Seriously. It only takes a few thousand reports from many independent people to see which sites are low quality sites. There is no ‘false positives’ when the same site gets reported again and again as a ‘bad’ backlink source.

Disavowing can help free you from Penguin but you pay a price

If Penguin bit your site, you can get out of its grip by disavowing the links that you think caused the penalty. In many cases, this is enough to get your site out of the penalty box. However, you pay a steep price in terms of information. You just did Google’s homework for it. Also, just as you can disavow sites, other sites can disavow you too. What if there are tons of sites out there disavowing your site?

Google says it doesn’t factor in disavow reports

Currently, Google is on the record regarding this but it might be only a matter of time until it does start factoring in this data. After all, disavow data is hard to ignore. These reports give Google an impartial and hard to fake view of which sites keep producing bad backlinks. It is too easy for Google to use this information and ban sites. Google can’t just sit on this forever. If you ever need proof of Google going back on its word regarding a policy, just think back to a few years ago (before Penguin) when Google’s official policy was that links pointing to your site won’t harm your rankings.

Some filters will probably be used but the Disavow tool will be used

Considering the huge savings Google will be enjoying by using Disavow tool data, it is only a matter of time until Google starts using this data. Sure, it will be using filters like cross references or volume checking to detect deliberate mass disavows but expect this data to be used. It is only a matter of time. What can you do? Simple. Stop linking and creating content in such a way that you might become a candidate for link disavowal. Focus on quality and end user value.