Google’s much talked about “disavow” tool has been around for a few months now, so we thought it was about time to take a closer look at the way the tool works and try to ascertain how effective – or otherwise – it is in helping webmasters get rid of unwelcome backlinks and mitigating the effects of negative SEO.
The first thing that is worth mentioning is the time scale involved. It is not simply a case of logging into webmaster tools, flagging up the unwelcome links and finding them miraculously gone the following day. According to Matt Cutts of Google the process could take up to several months, so don’t expect a quick fix. There also appears to be anecdotal evidence to suggest that once the process has been initiated, pending confirmation that the link or links have been removed, webmasters are experiencing some degree of fluctuaton or dancing in their rankings. The moral of the story appears to be that it pays to be patient. Expect to put up with some degree of SERPs movement while the tool takes effect before (hopefully) your site settles back down into its correct position.
Regrettably, it does not look like there is much you can do to speed things up either. Perhaps a better strategy is to make sure you spend a bit more time tidying up your submission, in the hope of achieving a satisfactory outcome within a reasonable time scale. Don’t go blundering in – check out Google’s Central Webmaster blog which contains much valuable information on how the tool ought to be used. By following these guidelines you should hopefully be able to minimise processing times.
Another point to bear in mind is that if you are employing the tool to try to mitigate the effect of a manual penalty on your site, then you really need to put some effort into dealing with any offending links yourself, before you resort to the tool. After all, the idea behind the disavow tool is to assist webmasters in getting rid of links they cannot deal with themselves. It stands to reason, therefore, that Google is more likely to consider a request to remove links more sympathetically if you are able to demonstrate that you have taken all reasonable steps to remove as many of them as possible yourself, before getting in touch with them.
According to anecdotal evidence it would appear that the SEO community is divided in its opinion of the efficacy of the tool. Persistence and patience – not to mention hard work – appear to be the key to success.