The excitement over the recent announcement of the new Google disavow links tool is no surprise. After Bing beat Google to the punch and introduced their own tool back in July, SEOs and small businesses have been anxiously awaiting this type of news. Matt Cutts, head of the webspam team at Google, formally revealed at Pubcon that the new tool is now available to all webmasters. Great news, right? Some are not so sure, which then begs the inevitable question from so many small businesses: What’s the problem now?

Why the Google Disavow Links Tool Isn’t For Everyone

When the disavow tool is used correctly, it can be great for small businesses trying to stop the negative SEO pointed at their company. However, the problem lies in the fact that not everyone will use the tool correctly. This is not to discount the excitement of the new tool, but it is important that small businesses step back from the excitement and analyze how they can best get started. There are two things that Cutts really made sure to point out in his video:

  1. Plan B – Cutts made it quite clear that you should not use the disavow tool as your first course of action against unwanted links. It’s still best to try and contact the site where the negative links are coming from and see if the editor is even aware. In most cases, you can get these links taken out easier than you may realize.
  2. No Re-Avowed Links – Cutts also made a point to discuss the importance of really making sure that you are disavowing the links you want to disavow. If you want to un-disavow a link, Cutts explained that “the answer is that that will take even longer. Once you disavow a link, make sure it’s a link you really want to disavow because it might take a lot longer and we might not give it the same weight if we start to allow it to be re-avowed.”

In general, it seems that Google is telling webmasters that this isn’t a tool that should be used by everyone. This leads me to believe that Google assumes that many people will use it incorrectly by disavowing every link, all the time, and thus disavowing links that didn’t actually have negative affects.

This might be true, but it doesn’t have to be true for everyone. If you can learn how to use the tool correctly, you can be in the group that Google (and many SEOs) call the exception.

How to Use the Google Disavow Links Tool Correctly

At the risk of sounding like a therapist, the first step is understanding that you’re walking on a slippery slope. If you know what to watch out for, you should be able to avoid falling into any sort of trap. There are a few different things to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of the new tool:

  • Research First. Always make 100 percent sure you want to disavow that link. Start creating a list of links that are pointing back to your site and then analyze that that list for domain authority and reputation. It’s a bit time consuming, but well worth it.
  • Avoid Mass Submits. You don’t want to go disavowing entire domains and hundreds of links every day. Start with a few of the links that you find the worst, and go from there. Google isn’t going to want to see a huge list, so don’t give it to them.
  • Disavow then Reconsider. Sending a reconsideration request is your very last step. You want to make sure you have a disavow file set to go when you submit a request—not after. Google wants to see all of the measures you’ve taken to improve your site, and this tool is now one way to show them.

Finally, it’s important to understand that disavowing links isn’t going to drastically change your ranking on a Google SERP. It might help, but there is a chance you have other SEO issues that you need to tend to in order to really see a difference.