I do have to qualify that a bit. If your website is newish, less than two years old, you shouldn’t have to use this. However it is worth checking what your backlink profile looks like and if there is much spam there, an easy way to check is in Google Webmaster Tools. See the full article on SEL here about the announcement from Matt Cutts on this tool.
The History of Backlinks and the Need for this Tool
Links are the largest indicator of relevance for any website or page. Webmasters figured this out very quickly and found ways to “game” Google.
Google also helped create this monster that they are trying to tame by launching their AdSense program, where webmasters could build websites and make, at that time, easy money from adverts.
Enter Link Farms, Crap Directories, and Article Directories
From 2006, when I first started building links, to 2008 – 2009 the use of various low level link building methods worked. And you were not doing the best for your client if you did not use something that worked and was very cost effective.
Google killed most of the low quality directories of all types, and now there are few directories I recommend that clients use, most of these are local.
The Present Link Building Methods
It has become very important, for me, to work on websites that have very good content. Without very good content it is impossible to justify a site gaining links. Link building methods now are more in line with the idea that Google started with.
Links as Citations
The idea behind links was academia. Papers written in universities reference original works and works that provide further insight into the original, I remember these well from putting together bibliographies and referencing work in essays.
Good links have always been important and more so now as low quality links can lower your whole website in Google’s search results pages.
Imagine the difference between a citation from the BBC website or some website somewhere that never has any visitors and rubbish quality content. This is how to think about links.
So What Links to Disavow
I will be exporting all historic data from Majestic, Bing and Google. This data will be imported into Advanced Links Manager where the program will check all links to see if they still exist and if they are indexed.
If they don’t exist fine, if they are not indexed this is the first ones on the list that will be submitted to Google.
The next phase is a bit more time intensive depending of course on your knowledge of links. I will go through the rest of the links by hand and anything that is greyed out on the PageRank tool bar will likely be on the list.
All of the old low level directories will be on the list. Anything that is over optimising my anchor text that I cannot get changed will also be on the list.
How Long to See Results?
Google says it will take a few weeks. Considering I have a friend who had all his sites hit by Penguin back in April and still hasn’t recovered a few weeks is not a big problem to get this rubbish removed.
If you need to do this I suggest that you do it sooner rather than later. Webmasters and SEO’s will figure out some ways of gaming this and Google will make changes – it always happens.
Once done, build links with care using social and networking.