As many in the SEO industry have heard, on October 16 Google formally announced their new disavow tool for links on the Google Webmaster Central Blog. While great news to many worried about the possibilities of negative SEO, or who have been hit by the recent Penguin updates, there may be a nasty, lurking, side affect to this tool.
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While this post will be short, as I’m hoping it’s more of a discussion point than anything, I think taking a look at another side effect that SEO’s have been battling since Google started penalizing for links can help paint the picture that these things can and do indeed happen.
Essentially, back in 2011 when Google started sending out unnatural link warnings and webmasters were exposed to the possibility of their backlinks hindering their rankings, a new, unintended economy was built. The sites that had taken payment to post links could now charge to have them removed. You hit them one-way, they get you another. I highly doubt this new economy was an intended result of the update.
Fast forward to today. Here we are (er, ehm, Google/Bing are), still dealing with the problem of making a rickety link system more reliable. This time though, I think they might have swung the door open a bit more for the link manipulators they’ve been trying to slow down.
Here’s the rub. While it’s nice that you can tell Google to not count certain links, and I believe the tool is a welcome (and possibly necessary) relief to many legitimate sites that were hit by things out of their control (or companies mending their ways), I think it may be possible to spam all the more now. Basically, this tool might allow someone to have his or her SEO cake and eat it too. A webmaster could now (in theory) buy links and enjoy their benefit until they get caught. When/if they do, they can now turn around and “try” to get them removed, but ultimately follow the simple process of disavowing them through both Google and Bing’s tools.
Aggressive SEO’s can now capitalize on the short-term, while being even more able to regain footing for the long-term, or another short-term push. Before this tool was available, if you used paid links, you were risking a lot as you may not be able to get them removed. If that was the case, you could get stuck in the mud trying to plead with Google for mercy and understanding.
As always I’m curious to hear your thoughts! Am I crazy? Is Google really getting closer to solving their backlink problems in a big way with this tool or are there some side effects that could be big problems?