Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBase

Some of you might have a high opinion of SEO people. (C’mon, aren’t there a couple of you out there?) If you have that high opinion, then don’t read this story, because there a few people who are less than ethical out there. Google had an announcement this week that has been a long time coming–you can now disavow links to your site. Some of you might be asking, why would you ever want to do that? Links to your site are good, right? Well, mostly, yes. But if you had a few ethical lapses, you might want to erase those problems.

So, if you paid for links, or you engaged in some spammy blog comments with links back to your site, this gives you a chance to wipe the slate clean. Because when Google figures out that you are cooking the links, it penalizes your site, assuming that some other links are faked, too.

And that’s how Google is announcing this disavowal capability–if you screwed up and you can’t get rid of those links, then this tool helps you by telling Google not to count them and your penalty magically goes away.

But I am excited about this tool not so that spammers can clean up their act, but so that victims of spammers have an escape route. The folks that I have felt most sorry for over the years are those ethical search marketers that have been attacked by so-called negative SEO (also known as Google bowling), where unethical SEOs create spammy links to your site to intentionally get you penalized.

If you’re not perverse enough to think up such an ugly scheme, congratulations on having a conscience. I know several poor schlubs who have been attacked this way and I first begged Google to introduce this disavowal tool over four years ago. I’m not really sure why it took this long for Google to take this step–what they announced is almost uncanny in its similarity to what I outlined for them to do in March of 2008.

But better late than never. For years, the bad guys could attack innocent marketers and there wasn’t a blessed thing to be done about it. Disavowing links is a boatload of work and it should not even be attempted by anyone less than an expert. But at least there is something that can be done. Thanks, Google, for standing up for the good guys as well as giving folks who faked their own links a chance at redemption.




About the author

  • mikemoran-photo
  • Mike Moran
  • Author of the acclaimed book on Internet marketing, Do It Wrong Quickly, on the heels of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., Mike Moran led many initiatives on IBM’s Web site for eight years, including IBM’s original search marketing strategy. Mike holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing, is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and regularly teaches at Rutgers, UC Irvine, and UCLA.

    In addition to his contributions to Biznology, Mike is a regular columnist for Search Engine Guide. He also frequently keynotes conferences worldwide on digital marketing for marketers, public relations specialists, market researchers, and technologists, and serves as Chief Strategist for Converseon, a leading digital media marketing agency. Prior to joining Converseon, Mike worked for IBM for 30 years, rising to the level of Distinguished Engineer. Mike can be reached through his Web site (