Disavowing Links? Google Says Use a Machete, Not a Scalpel

Google Disavow Links

When it comes to Google’s Disavow Tool, there was plenty of speculation and testing as to what approach to take. Should webmasters disavow everything and start clean? Disavow in small batches to see what would happen? Or just lump a large group of possible suspect links and disavow anything and everything that could possibly be an issue and wash their hands of a good portion of their backinks?

Well, according to Google's Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts, which was shared by John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, webmasters should be tackling URLs for the disavow tool with a machete instead of a scalpel.

Hmm. One common issue we see with disavow requests is people going through with a fine-toothed comb when they really need to do something more like a machete on the bad backlinks. For example, often it would help to use the "domain:" operator to disavow all bad backlinks from an entire domain rather than trying to use a scalpel to pick out the individual bad links. That’s one reason why we sometimes see it take a while to clean up those old, not-very-good links.

With this confirmation from Cutts, it goes a long way in giving webmasters some guidance when it comes to how best to use the disavow tool in order to get a healthy backlink profile.

While the machete approach might seem extreme to some people, the fact that doing it with a scalpel-like approach can lead to a longer time frame to clean up a site might make it more appealing, and less scary, to webmasters.

About the author

Jennifer Slegg began as a freelance writer, and turned to search engine optimization and writing content for the web in 1998. She has created numerous content-rich sites in niche markets and works with many clients on content creation, strategy, and monetization. She writes about many search industry and social media topics on her blog, JenniferSlegg.com and is a frequent speaker at search industry conferences on SEO, content marketing and content monetization. Acknowledged as the leading expert on the Google AdSense contextual advertising program, she runs JenSense, a blog dealing exclusively with contextual advertising. She is also the founder and editor of The SEM Post. She is known by many as her handle Jenstar on various webmaster forums.