When should I use the Google Disavow tool?
Perhaps we should expect this, considering it is basically the SEO equivalent of a magic wand instantly removing mistakes of the past.
To be exact, the tool lets website owner tell Google is ignore certain links to their website. The main piece of advice offered by Google is to only use it as a last resort when you've exhausted all over methods of trying to remove the links - but there is still a bit of confusion as to when links should be removed.
Why would I want links to my website removed?
Links are one of the key indicators that Google uses to assess the usefulness of a website. If a domain has lots of other websites linking to it, it is considered very useful. Why else would website owners want to send their audience there?
If a high-authority website links to that domain, that is considered an even stronger indication of usefulness, which can potentially send a website shooting up the search rankings faster than a speeding bullet.
However, it was soon discovered that some websites were creating links unnaturally in order to manipulate the search rankings in their favour - so Google began issuing penalties to websites which had paid links, irrelevant links or links from low-quality websites directing people to their domain. This move was dubbed 'Google Panda'.
The only way to recover from these penalties is to get the offending links removed.
How do I find out about bad links?
Google will let you know if it discovers any unnatural links pointing to your website via a message in its 'Webmaster Tools' feature. Frustratingly though, it will not define which links it deems unnatural.
Anyone who is involved with improving the SEO of your website should have a good idea, but if not, it's worth scouring through the entire of list of website backlinks using Google Webmaster Tools to try and find the problem. Look for links from websites that are irrelevant to your business or provide little value to readers.
Should I always use the Disavow Tool?
Google recommends that its disavow tool should only be used as a last resort. It advises website owners to try and contact those responsible for the links to get them manually removed.
This is a better option than disavowing them because it reduces the chances of search engines punishing your website again in the future. It also stops consumers from discovering spammy links and gaining a poor impression of your website as a result.
However, if you are unable to get these links manually removed, the Google Disavow Tool is the next best thing. It is relatively simple to show Google what links you don't want to count anymore. Although Google doesn't have to comply with this request, it is thought that most are fulfilled.
Users could find that their website is back where it belongs in no time at all.