Google launches 'disavow links' tool, helps local businesses clean up SEO

For local businesses that understand the influence the internet wields in the modern world of marketing, developing an SEO strategy is top of the list. However, SEO can often be a dense and technically burdensome operation, the finer points of which many businesses new to the local search marketing game have trouble grasping. But one easy building block to a good SEO strategy that is an relatively easy function even for the most inexperienced is link-building. Links have been likened to the streets of the internet, and search engines give heavy weight to links when considering the popularity, quality and authority of a page. Good outbound and inbound links can translate to a good search result rank.

Unfortunately, because links figure so heavily into page ranking, they're also susceptible to spammers and schemers. Local businesses that are naive to SEO can often be wrangled into link exchanges with disreputable sites or fall prey to spammers who promise boosted search results if businesses participate. Luckily for local businesses that get caught in bad link-building and worry about their ranks, Google has launched a new tool that can help local SEO specialists manually clean up links.

The "disavow links" tool was recently announced and enables local businesses with the power to bring Google's attention to bad links they find on their sites that otherwise would have been missed or reflected negatively on rank. Google cautioned that the tool carries severe repercussions for the disavowed links and that local sites should use the tool with discretion after other efforts to remove the problematic links didn't work.

Upon using the tool, users will be taken to a page that requests they enter the URL for the site that contains the links they wish to disavow. After that, users will then have to upload a plain text file with one URL per line. Local businesses can get request disavowal from entire domains, or pick out specific pages that contain bad links the user is worried about.

Matt Cutts, the frequently cited head of Google web spam team, said that the tool is particularly geared toward local businesses that had been hit by the Penguin algorithm, which was implemented to fight spam, and either had not expected it or have not yet been able to recover from it. But local SEO specialists may have to wait for some time after supplying Google with their disavowal list, which could take weeks, or even months, for users to experience a recognizable effect from disavowal.