Google Will Soon Ignore Links You Tell It To

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Google Will Soon Ignore Links You Tell It To
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Google’s Matt Cutts gave a keynote “You and A” presentation at SMX Advanced this week, and mentioned that Google is considering offering a tool that would let webmasters disavow certain links.

Would you find such a tool useful? Let us know in the comments.

Matt McGee at SMX sister site Search Engine Land liveblogged the conversation. Here’s his quote of Cutts, which was in response to a question about negative SEO:

The story of this year has been more transparency, but we’re also trying to be better about enforcing our quality guidelines. People have asked questions about negative SEO for a long time. Our guidelines used to say it’s nearly impossible to do that, but there have been cases where that’s happened, so we changed the wording on that part of our guidelines.

Some have suggested that Google could disavow links. Even though we put in a lot of protection against negative SEO, there’s been so much talk about that that we’re talking about being able to enable that, maybe in a month or two or three.

We recently wrote about Google’s wording change regarding negative SEO, which seemed to be an admission from the company that this practice is indeed possible. These words from Cutts seem to be further confirmation.

Rand Fishkin, CEO of SEOmoz, recently issued a challenge to people to show that if you have a strong enough reputation and link profile, you can’t be hurt by negative SEO. That seemed to go pretty well, but not everyone has the reputation of SEOmoz, even if they don’t necessarily have a bad one. Such a tool from Google could go a long way in helping combat negative SEO practices.

As far as people suggesting that Google could disavow links, Search Engine Land editor Barry Schwartz actually had a pretty good article talking about this last month. “The concept is simple,” he wrote. “You go to your link report in Google Webmaster Tools and have an action button that says ‘don’t trust this link’ or something like it. Google will then take that as a signal to not use that link as part of their link graph and ranking algorithm.”

“What I can’t understand is why hasn’t Google released it yet,” he wrote. “It is a great way for Google to do mass spam reporting by webmasters and SEOs without calling it spam reporting. You will have all these webmasters rush after a penalty to call out which links they feel are hurting them. Google can take that data to back up their algorithms to on links they already know are spam but also find new links that they might not have caught.”

He went on to make the point that Google would find more spam this way.

Once Google launches this tool, assuming that it actually does, it will be very interesting to see how the rankings shake out. It should be an indication of just how important links actually are these days.

As you may know, Google has sent out a ton of Webmaster Tools warnings this year, and such a tool would help users take quick “manual action” on links rather than spend a ton of time sending link removal requests to other sites. It might even prevent some lawsuits (and the death of the web as we know it).

According to Cutts, however, not many of the warnings were actually about links.


@VegasWill that’s the right range. I may pull the stats just to help clarify.
6 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto
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Update: Here’s his clarification:

Matt Cutts
Matt Cutts   15 minutes ago Earlier this year, Google revealed that we sent out over 700,000 messages to site owners in January and February 2012 via our free webmaster console at http://google.com/webmasters . I wanted to clarify a misconception about those messages. A lot of people assumed that most or all of the 700K messages were related to "unnatural link warnings" that some site owners received.

The reason for sending the 700,000 messages via Webmaster Tools was actually because we started sending out warnings about blackhat techniques. The vast, vast majority of manual actions we take are on pages that are engaging in egregious blackhat SEO techniques, such as automatically created gibberish or cloaking.

In fact, of the messages that we sent out to site owners, only around 3% were for unnatural or artificial links. So just to be clear, of the 700,000 messages we sent out in January and February, well above 600,000 were for obvious blackhat spam, and under 25,000 of the messages were for unnatural links. #smx   #seo  

Google Sent Over 700,000 Messages Via Webmaster Tools In Past Two Months
At SMX West last week Tiffany Oberoi from Google shared that Google has sent over 700,000 messages to webmasters via Google Webmaster Tools in January and February 2012. That is more than the total nu…

By the way, Google only sends those messages when it’s a penalty, and penalties, as far as Google is concerned, are manual action.

It will be interesting to see if the new link tool helps a lot of sites recover from algorithm updates like Penguin, and/or prevents a lot of sites from getting hit. Will we see less complaining about Google’s algorithm changes? Somehow, I doubt that. I have no reason to believe we will see less finger pointing.

Will you use the new link tool if Google provides it? Let us know in the comments.

Google Will Soon Ignore Links You Tell It To
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  • http://thefreetrafficreport.com Toddjir

    Well at least they are showing they care and are helping webmasters also. Truly I think they just want a better experience for the web over all.

  • http://www.wedgeim.com Wedge Internet Marketing

    First good thing to come out Cutt’s mouth all year.

  • http://www.seolatino.com Rafael Montilla

    At last, I have been fighting with some webmaster to remove links from their sites. this tool is a great news for us.


  • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

    It is a step in the right direction, however why does Google always want to give me something to do? Can’t they simply ignore the spammy links on their own and not bother me with them? So while it’s not exactly what I was hoping for, I still think it’s a step in the right direction and will gladly accept it.

    • Order

      I agree. Some one does over a million span links to your website. Where does that leave you. It should be like before and they ignore the links they do not like.

  • http://www.brunodangelo.com/ Bruno

    Good news! but this confirms only one thing… Google allows negative SEO after the Penguin update.

    • http://www.LAokay.com Steve G

      I know.

      We’ve always suspected this and Google has finally commented about it. The problem is basically Google now has told the negative SEO’ers that their efforts will work and they have one, two, maybe three months until a tool comes out which allows publishers to tell Google to ignore certain inbound links you tell it to. Great! I can finally get Google to ignore this one site that has been link spamming me for years! Sites like Lowes.com won’t have to file lawsuits for those who link to them, they just have to hire somebody to monitor their GWT account. I think Google should show in GWT all the links it found, not just a top list.

  • http://www.q3tech.com Q3

    Its already happening. We can ask Google to remove links by providing a proper reason and they will consider the request. Each month millions of links are removed from Google which are in some way interfering with the quality of search.

  • http://www.ifix.co.il ifix

    hmmm…i think its time google do it..

  • Fred Waters

    The best news I’ve heard since the Penguin update. I’ve got one site that has 1,100 links pointing to me in their blog roll. That certainly is sending some red flags. There is no contact info and the domain info is protected by whoisguard.

  • http://www.adovationz.co.nz Digby Green

    Great ideas
    I have often wanted this to remove old links to my site.

  • Alex

    Great news, guys. I wanna to remove old and spam links too.

  • http://goringeaccountants.co.uk Accountant in Reading

    If they do implement this I hope its a button you can toggle on/off in GWT as knowing if a link is impacting your site negatively is not always obvious…

  • https://plus.google.com/113717307800788062035 Peter Watson

    WOW! This is great news! This is going to give webmasters full control over their own link profiles, eliminating Negative SEO. They can’t release it soon enough!

  • Pawel

    Who has time to manually check all the links and think which one can be “bad” according to Google of course. Couldn’t they just ignore some links, which they find “bad”? Of course not, because now they can decrease positions of every site, because of that “reason” and get more money from AdWords. And this is all about!

  • http://www.chakallas.com/ Jay

    SEO is getting more and more difficult adding to total service / product cost, however google should consider that lotss of people’s income depend on google and google’s decision does impacts, sort of social responsibility of google.

  • http://www.smartsiteblog.com/ smartpea

    I was wondering -will it possible for some people using some unethical approaches to send spam links to their competitors’ sites? I have sites with quality contents that people like to share and promote, but some links I have no idea where they came from, such as some .ru directory sites? Many thanks to keep us updated:)

    • walt

      smartpea. there are now whole companies on the rise that do negative seo, helping others to terminate their competition.

  • walt

    I agree with the other poster this should be done in house by google. Google seems to have some weird ideas on reality anyways. If you ask me the way most sites display adsense is poor quality, google news would be duplicate content, and I won’t even talk about google chrome not meeting up to a secure standard with most payment processors. lol I guess soon you will only be able to write your name on one page and your own sites link. Speaking of names why do people even expect anything good to come out of someone with the last name CUTTS. I mean seriously what do you expect. Somewhere I can imagine the real owners getting a kick out of all this. :)

  • https://plus.google.com/113717307800788062035 Peter Watson

    Pawel: You asked “who has time to manually check their link profile”. Answer: All webmasters who have been penalized for inorganic/unnatural links. Or any webmaster who’s site has been a target of negatvie SEO.

    I have a list of urls I will be blocking as soon as this tool is released and I will continue to check my profile every single day to keep it clean and within Googles Guidelines. I suggest you do the same :-)

    Would you rather use this new tool giving webmasters the control over their link profiles, or take Googles ‘word’ for it that they have been devalued at their end?

    I know which one I prefer!

  • http://www.facebook.com/WeightLossNaturals Weight Loss Naturals

    I think I will use it when it launches. I have been seeing links which I didn’t build from some adult oriented sites with the .ru as well as some “paid directories”. These link to my sites even when the content are not related, I guess they do so thinking that a pingback from my blogs will help them.

    Such tools if it launches may be helpful to tell Google not to count them.

  • http://www.webdesignacademy.co.za Brian

    FINALLY!!! That is awesome news… Thanks for the article..

  • Order

    What the hell. When are they going to stop being so up themselfs and keep to common sense.

    Your competitors does an xrunner spam campaign to 1 million++++ websites or some other rubbish system out there.

    How on earth are you going to be able to deal with that.././

    Steve G is completely correct!

    I read an article somewhere that said is Google making themselves irrelevant.

  • http://www.binderspublishing.com Binders Publishing

    Well…. what if someone names your link as blackhat will your site get tanked…..

  • http://Wssmedia.con Chris Weller

    Fantastic idea. I have been deranked because of unethical link practices from competitor webites.

    The sooner the better. Also for once it’s the webmasters trying to sort the web and not Google working to their “don’t be evil” mission…

  • http://romanticgetawayaustralia.com.au Michael Chorney

    Would love to shake some of those random useless links!!

  • http://abs-gallery.com Michele

    yes – will definitely use it. since I currently am re-developing my sites [long overdue] this is very much welcome. Have no clue how many neg links there may be since 1993 – a toggle button will be great.

  • http://www.freelygive-n.com Robin Calamaio

    My site had about 50-60 visitors a day before Penguin. Now 10-15. All site materials are original and I am well qualified in my area of study. I work full time outside of my site and have a family, yard, etc., etc. My articles and ebooks on the site are all free and I have put them on various directories in their natural category. I have never wanted to anger any little robots – I have only wanted to offer readers/seekers accurate, interesting and valuable materials freely. All this cloak and dagger SEO materials and algorithms? I do not have the time or knowledge to figure this out as all my time available is placed upon producing new materials. I am moving into audio and video and have decided to simply keep producing material for readers/audience. Quality content – that’s it and that’s all. I hope the robots figure me out – and they cut out all the nefarious stuff that I do not want either. Give me buttons and tell me what to block. I will follow all your rules. Like the heavy-browed dullards stuck in space on a broken down starship – I say to Google, as they said to Captain Piccard, “Make it go.”

  • http://coinauctionshelp.com Daniel Malone

    I think it’s a great idea and much easier than adding no follows or reporting links.

  • http://www.darlingtons.com James Swede

    This would be very welcome – the new algo change is fair enough as long as webmasters can correct any errors or prior misdemeanours.

  • http://www.reynoldspest.com Brian Reynolds

    This is great news for everyone that wishes to provide quality sites built with time and great content.

  • http://www.rwrinnovations.com Ron Nixon

    Why not just stop giving credit for links altogether? That would stop the abuse and level the playing field for everyone, big and small. Shut down the link business altogether and look for fresh, well crafted original content.

  • http://wordswordsseowords.com/ Christopher Skyi

    This sounds like a godsend for sites that have been hit w/an unnatural link warning. These sites won’t be addressing negative SEO but instead pruning their own bad links. How long before Bing follows suit? Not long I bet.

    ONE DOWNSIDE. For sites that start telling Google to ignore links, a great tool like SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer becomes less accurate for estimating that site’s page and domain authority relative to its competitors because OSE doesn’t know about the links the site owner told Google to ignore.

    On the other hand, right now, the page and domain authority of one’s competitors may be weaker than what OSE suggests because it could be counting bad links that are currently either ignored or penalization by Google. For this reason, it’s best to get bad links removed.

    In short, OSE is accurate only under the assumption that all the sites under consideration have clean and valid link profiles, a big if now, I guess . . .

  • Andre

    LOL, how I will tell google to ignore 10K+ links for example? It is physically impossible… so, this tool will be useless I guess. But perhaps, they will allow a webmasters to write their own code/algorithm to fight the ‘bad links’ on some stage…

    But now, now I feel like all work is useless in conditions like this (a very big risks anyway), I will get back to white hat SEO in one year maybe, now I’m switching to e-mail marketing and to heavy blackhat 100%. My designers and content writers need food, and so do I.

  • kit

    Becuase the number of websites is too much than the old algorithm .
    Google must find the new algorithm .
    If Google more Manual action , it is unfair .
    I believe Google will lose in the future as same as Yahoo ( Manual action ) .

  • http://www.wedetectives.com Britany

    Expecting this tool to come out soon !!!

  • Yahoo

    Finally, Amen and praise Google.

    Our preyers have been answered.

  • http://theakurians.com Colonel Robert F. Cunningham

    One more layer of KAK!

    Anyone can then poison anyone else – whether vicious or ‘fun-nee’ – and all Google will be able to do is whine about it.

    THE IDEA IS ABSOLUTELY JACKASS! And, it will NOT ‘apply’ to the foreign porners, pill pushers, et cetera, nor the the communists on government payroll who are the major offenders of junk-mail denial of service.

    I’ll be happy to document …

    Colonel Robert F. Cunningham,

  • http://www.andover-it.co.uk Andover SEO

    Smacks a bit of Google wanting webmasters to clean up Google’s mistakes.

    What about the small business owner that doesn’t know about Panda and Penguin? And how would Mr Cutts feel if someone launched an Xrumer hit against Google and left him to clear up a huge volume of bad links?

    How about:

    1) Google just ignore what they consider bad links
    2) They give us the tool as well

    It may not be a huge movement, but we’re finding more clients using Bing these days as they find Google giving less relevant results, especially with regards to local businesses.

  • http://www.ninahale.com Nina Hale

    I have reservations about this possibility, unless, like the unnatural link warnings, they create a manual check at Google. My concern is that it allows an “out” for black hat tactics. So let’s say a black hat SEO has been creating link spam for ages, and it’s had some success despite going against webmaster guidelines. Now Penguin has succeeded in catching it. But now a new tool allows you to disavow the links? It’s like a “get out of jail free” card! I absolutely think that for negative SEO and some of the legit “not spam” reasons it would be welcome, but needs to be controlled carefully.

  • http://tautweb.com/ Taut Web

    There soon will be a lot of blog posts talking about “how to disavow links via Google webmaster tools” rather than “how to build links”.

    Doing bad link building (i.e negative SEO) is much easier than disavowing links, ain’t it? Come on Google, you’ve run too far!

  • http://damescribe.hubpages.com/ Gin

    Such a tool would be great for bloggers to identify and separate association with ‘bad links’ BUT the risk for abuse by competitors or plain ‘malice’, to the blogger, would have to be taken into consideration. I imagine if both links were examined, one goes to a ‘I want to report a link’ file and the other into a ‘Suspicious link’ file, for manual review, may help – but – that would take a lot of time too.

  • http://www.mpbcontest.com/ssylvia Sylvia

    … I just have to say this in very short words


  • http://awautoglass.com AW windshield replacement Ft Lauderdale

    trying to rank high has always been a challenge for my car glass company. i think such a tool will be very use

  • http://www.ssrichardmontgomery.com ron

    good idea but open to abuse.

  • http://www.lots0cash.com lots0

    I don’t believe google will ever come out with this link blocking tool.

    If google does make this tool, google will have to show ALL the inbound links to your site. Without seeing ALL the inbound links to your site this tool will be useless.

    … Google will NEVER ever show all the inbound links to your site… So all the talk about this tool is just that… talk.

  • http://www.mulewagon.com Valerie

    I’m sure this would be a very useful feature, if I had the slightest idea which links were doing me harm! The check on Google Webmaster tools does show that most of the domains linked to me are ones appropriate ones that I linked myself – but there are also many I don’t recognize.

    I’d appreciate an article on how I can tell which are the “bad” links.

  • Sera

    YES! Excellent! My websites have been around so long – more than 10 years – and have accumulated over 10,000 backlinks each. We were hit by the Penguin undate and are having to work each one of those backlinks manually and it is not fun!

  • http://www.adesso-media.pl Adesso

    Software hole -> backdoor -> confirm as ovner in GWT -> 1 click to ruin your couple of hard work

  • http://www.fitnessanddefense.com Tina

    A tool like this would be helpful !! Just imagine solving everything on our part rather than make G do it for us !!

  • http://www.captaincyberzone.com Cap’n Cyberzone

    As long as the tool identified for me which links were the suspected bad links I’d welcome it but because I’m not privy to Google’s algorithm’s parameters I might do more harm to myself by disavowing good links.
    Anything that is going to help me offer-up a good experience for my visitors is welcomed.

  • https://twitter.com/#!/top10traffic Jesse Fisher

    I’m certainly in favor of being able to disclaim the unhelpful links my clients have due to the efforts of their former SEO providers who got links from wherever they could.

    Also glad to hear that 600k of the 700k emails Google sent out this year were for blackhat SEO offenses. The cool thing was that I didn’t get any! And I manage/own over 100 domains.

    • guy

      good for you

  • http://techgyo.com Sreejesh

    That would be great!Lots of businesses can fix negative seo. It would help a lot of websites to regain their position in ranking. But have to wait and see whats bad coming with it.

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