Google may start allowing website owners the ability to remove links they are linked to. Matt Cutts was quoted (live blog here) during an interview with Search Engine Land. Here is his response to a question about negative SEO:
The story of this year has been more transparency, but we’re also trying to be better about enforcing our quality guidelines. People have asked questions about negative SEO for a long time. Our guidelines used to say it’s nearly impossible to do that, but there have been cases where that’s happened, so we changed the wording on that part of our guidelines.
Some have suggested that Google could disavow links. Even though we put in a lot of protection against negative SEO, there’s been so much talk about that, that we’re talking about being able to enable that, maybe in a month or two or three.
This is big news but it’s something Bing already unveiled recently in late June.
Bing is offering users the ability to submit page, directory, or domain URLs that may contain links to their site that seem “unnatural” or appear to be from spam or low quality sites. This was due to increased response from users concerned with possible negative SEO tactics. Many of the disbelievers of negative SEO were websites that had huge site link profiles that were in fact hard to hurt. For smaller sites they could take a bigger hit from bad links and disavowing links would help them.
Many writers have been asking why Google hasn’t done this already. Barry Schwartz editor of Search Engine Land wrote about this very topic. He suggested, “You go to your link report in Google Webmaster Tools and have an action button that says ‘don’t trust this link’ or something like it. Google will then take that as a signal to not use that link as part of their link graph and ranking algorithm.”
This service could benefit Google in mass spam reporting without actually calling it that. This data could be used to back up their algorithms on links that are proven spam and discover new ones they haven’t caught.
I’m assuming Google will launch this tool because they probably don’t want to play second fiddle to Bing in innovation. This tool would be a great addition to all the new Webmaster Tools warnings that have come out this year. Users could quickly take “manual action” on links rather than spend ton of time sending link removal requests to other sites. Cutts however stated not many of the 700,000 warnings were actually about links. Those messages about black hat SEO are sent when there is a penalty. And penalties are considered a “manual action”.
I doubt the tool will help an overwhelming amount of sites recover from algorithm updates like Penguin, but if you’ve experienced these issues in Bing results, I definitely recommend utilizing this feature.
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