End of last year I have been on a round table with German search quality engineer Uli Lutz from Google on SEOkomm in Austria, where the disavow tool for cleaning up your backlinks was part of the discussion. I was also in the audience when Google webmaster spokesgeek Matt Cutts introduced the tool on Pubcon.
So I watched it closely and because our main flagship Tradebit lost positions for “sell downloads” or “sound effects“, I found it was time to investigate and probably use the tool on the site.
I started to look into the backlink profile and found many questionable links to us. Some I put up there myself. So Google might thought (or better calculated) that the site should not rank for those terms and I must find the majority of those links!
But I also found many links I could not assign – I blogged about that earlier – and links that potentially belong to friends or people I know.
After my blood pressure went down, I decided to contact Uli Lutz from Google and tell him my major concerns:
- What is the definite source for backlinks to look at?
- What happens if I accidentally report a friend, because I thought the link is bad, but it is not?
and it is always a gamble to ask employees of Google to give you an answer. I think their policy is very restrictive and I understand, if they are just not allowed to answer to such requests without risking their job.
But I am happy he answered and allowed me to blog it – I translated the answer from German for you:
- “I would concentrate on the links reported in the Webmaster Tools on Google”
- “Do not worry about damaging other people, that does not happen”
- “Be aware of the site-wide disavow possibility, it will make your life easier”
have been the key sentences in his reply. I am thankful for such a definite answer and thought I’d share it here.
So, I am in the middle of collecting the links I consider harmful in the next few days and will re-use the disavow tool then. I found the supporting nature of http://www.linkresearchtools.com/ also quite helpful and will hopefully have a good list by Monday. Friends further told me to wait a few weeks AFTER the disavow submission before asking for a reinclusion.
I will update you along the way.