Should you disavow links?Google’s Penguin algorithm has been in place for nearly two years and in that time, we have witnessed numerous sites that have been hit for less-than-savory backlink tactics and practices. In those two years, we’ve seen small businesses that had trusted their SEO companies get de-indexed and had their presence on Google’s search results page drop out of existence. These same “trusty” SEO companies, are back at it again, trying to help small businesses recover their Google presence. These SEO companies are armed with their most powerful, and at the same time, most dangerous tool: The disavow tool.

What is the Disavow Link Tool?

Google explains that their disavow link tool helps webmasters and business owners tell Google what links to their site shouldn’t count, or were created by spammy and paid tactics that they didn’t initiate.  This tool would essentially make these links not “count” in Google’s algorithm. The tool also comes with this very clear caveat.

disavow-warningThis is the warning that some people are not heeding. They are suggesting to small businesses that they disavow a lot of links without sufficient due diligence and research on the links they think should be removed.  Most of these businesses “consulting” on helping your site recover work on a pay-per-link basis, so they sometimes hit the sites that generate the most links per domain. (Quick and easy money.)

So what can I do!?!?!??

As a business owner, it’s important to understand the nature of backlinks and how they work. You need to know what kind of backlinks are bad links. A clear understanding of what the experts are selling you is a good way to protect yourself from the hype and fear tactics.

Things that you should ask the person encouraging you to disavow links:

If someone comes to you saying that your website is failing in Google and they can help, ask:

  • What keywords were they looking at?
  • How can they tell what conversions and calls you get from the website, without having access to your analytics?

If someone comes to you saying that Google has penalized your site for too many backlinks:

  • Ask them how they got in to your Google Webmaster Tools and saw the manual penalty notice from Google?
  • Ask them for their full backlink analysis of your site, because that is the only way they could even know if your site had backlinks.

Simple questions such as the ones above, will help you differentiate between the actual experts, and the ones that are just in it for a quick buck. Just like with any service your business buys, you need to ask the right questions so that you will not be taken advantage of. SEO and “penalty recovery” services are serious business and you need to be sure that your service provider is knowledgeable and doesn’t do more harm than good.