Why Did My Rankings Drop After Using Google’s Disavow Tool?

Published Jan 29, 2014 by Mitchell Wright in SEO
Estimated read time of 4 minutes and 11 seconds4 4
The views of contributors are their own, and not necessarily those of SEOBlog.com

Rankings-Drop-After-Using-Disavow-Tool

As the 21st century continues to unfold, more and more business owners are recognizing the importance of implementing effective internet marketing strategies. By maximizing SEO and other such strategies, business owners can ensure that they continue expanding their online presence and thereby gain more revenue through the goods and services they sell. For quite some time now, many website owners have been aware of the integral role backlinking can play in affecting website ranking. If, for example, a website receives a backlink from a low quality website, this can cause the original website to gain a less prominent position in the search engine results pages.

For this reason, Google has put in place a disavow tool which permits website owners to rid themselves of connection to bad backlinks. Despite the apparent efficacy of this option, many website owners have experienced a drop in search engine ranking after using the Google disavow tool. By learning more about the Google disavow tool and how its use can affect your search engine ranking, you can make a prudent decision regarding whether using the tool would be appropriate or advantageous for you.

Google’s Disavow Tool-A Basic Overview

The basic premise of the Google disavow tool is simple. Oftentimes, website owners find that their sites have been backlinked to other sites that are either low quality, spammy, obscene, or questionable in some other manner. To remedy the problem of being linked to these types of questionable websites, Google gives site owners the ability to disassociate from them through use of the disavow tool. To use the disavow tool, the website owner creates a list of the URLs from the unwanted backlink site in a text file. Once you have successfully created a file, you can then access Google’s disavow link through Google Webmaster Central. After selecting your website, you’ll go through a list of warnings and subsequently select and submit your file.

Once you’ve successfully submitted your file, Google will not immediately discount your links. In fact, Google representative Matt Cutts has stated that it can take several weeks for the disavowal to be processed and actualized. Additionally, Cutts pointed out that Google can opt not to use disavowal submissions if the company believes they are not to be trusted.

After your disavow file is submitted, you will have the option to download the file and resubmit it to reflect any necessary changes. The file limit in terms of size is 2MB.

How The Disavow Tool Gained Prevalence

In determining whether you should use Google’s disavow tool, consider the fact that it was primarily designed for website owners who were adversely affected from Google’s Penguin Update. The Penguin Update had a profound effect on websites that Google believed were spamming its search engine results, especially those who did so through the purchase of links. After the Penguin fiasco, many web publishers and SEO experts went into panic. One of the primary concerns was how to develop a way to get rid of bad links and start anew. Other people grew concerned that some individuals might direct bad links to their web pages for the purpose of destroying their online presence with negative SEO. As a result of these concerns, new businesses that made money by charging to remove harmful links gained prevalence.

Why Your Rankings Can Drop Through Use Of The Google Disavow Tool

Why-Rankings-Drop-Google-Disavow-Tool

As many Google experts know, implementing the Google disavow tool can have an adverse effect on your search engine results page rankings. In discussing this matter, Google representative Eric Kuan stated that “The disavow backlinks tool should be used with caution since it can potentially harm your site’s performance. However, if you see a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links point to your site, and you’re confident that the links are causing issues for your site, you can use the disavow tool to disavow those links. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.”

Based on Kuan’s assessments regarding the Google disavow tool, it is clear that disavowing links that are helping you earn a competitive ranking can have a detrimental effect on your Google search results. The rationale is simple: Even if you are being backlinked by a spammy or low-quality website, that site can be generating visitors to your own pages.

How To Use Google’s Disavow Tool Effectively

In recognizing the fact that the Google disavow tool can have an adverse effect on your search engine rankings, you may wonder whether or not you should make use of the tool when attempting to solidify your internet marketing campaign. In discussing this matter, several internet marketing experts have pointed out that the key to success with the disavow tool is to avoid blindly disavowing links out of fear. Rather, you should take the time to do your research on the sites that you have been backlinked to before you begin the disavow process. In discussing how to use its disavow tool effectively, Google has stated that it frowns upon using the tool frivolously. In a 2012 slideshow on the disavow tool, Google representative Matt Cutts outlined several tips for effective use. They include:

1. Avoiding use of the tool unless one is certain that it is needed

2. Remove all the links from the web that you can prior to using the disavow tool. To do so, website owners can make several link removal requests for themselves. Website owners should wait until there are just a few links left to remove before resorting to the disavow tool.

Implications of the Google Disavow Tool

Although the Google disavow tool has been effective in helping many people cut ties with shady and/or scammy websites, some website owners are disgruntled about the fact that use of the tool can cause their rankings to drop. Interestingly, Google has not always taken definitive action against negative links. In the past, the company has frequently opted to simply ignore the bad links. Yet by choosing to interpret bad links as “negative votes,” Google facilitated the rising concern regarding adverse SEO activity which it is now attempting to quell through its disavow tool. Moreover, Google has also stated that its algorithms are designed to prevent negative SEO, meaning that the majority of web owners shouldn’t have to worry about the presence and effect that SEO might have on their search engine result page ranking.

Implications-of-the-Google-Disavow-Tool

Despite Google’s efforts to prevent web owners from being subjected to negative SEO from bad backlinks, many people remain disgruntled. At this point, many web owners argue that links are ultimately disadvantageous to them because getting quality links is difficult. Moreover, when one obtains a quality link, the link itself might not count. Finally, the process of disavowing links can take time which one might want to devote to more productive activities such as web design, content creation, or social media network marketing efforts. In response, Google has emphasized the benefits offered by the disavow tool and how it enables people to obtain a “clean slate.”

Conclusion

As made plain by the information listed above, Google’s disavow tool can be an effective medium to use when attempting to disassociate from bad backlinks. At the same time, however, using the tool can have an adverse effect on your search engine ranking. In recognizing both of these realities, be sure to use the disavow tool strategically and as a last resort when implementing your SEO techniques to expand your online presence. Good luck!

Written by Mitchell Wright

Mitchell Wright

Mitchell loves all aspects of Internet marketing and have been involved with everything from ORM to SEO to video and affiliate marketing. He currently works with bloggers to increase their ad revenue.

  • Madneesh V

    Good to know. Hopefully this effect is temporary!

  • clint

    Mitch, I submitted a list of links to Google for disavow on a website I’m currently working on. My website dropped from ranking number 5 to an all time low of number 10 within one week of the disavow. I let it sit for about 2 weeks and then deleted the disavow file. My rankings still have not recovered. Any suggestions?

  • clint

    Mitch, I submitted a list of links to Google for disavow on a website I’m currently working on. My website dropped from ranking number 5 to an all time low of number 10 within one week of the disavow. I let it sit for about 2 weeks and then deleted the disavow file. My rankings still have not recovered. Any suggestions?

  • clint

    Mitch, I submitted a list of links to Google for disavow on a website I’m currently working on. My website dropped from ranking number 5 to an all time low of number 10 within one week of the disavow. I let it sit for about 2 weeks and then deleted the disavow file. My rankings still have not recovered. Any suggestions?

Like us on Facebook
Follow us on Google+