Since Google launched its disavow tool there has been considerable discussion and debate on how and when it should be used. Some of that opinion is, as you would expect, conflicting.

We have taken a look at some of the articles set out below with a view to making a clear recommendation to owners of small businesses as to what they should do.

Matt Cutts does remind us constantly through the video that the vast majority of us should not use this tool and that it should only be used as a last resort.

Remember, your rankings are still determined by the number and quality of links back to your website. You do not want to use this tool to remove (accidentally or otherwise) links that are actively contributing to your rankings. Matt Cutts does say that the disavow process can be reversed if necessary but that it is a very tricky and lengthy process.

  • The point is made that if you have not been involved in any practices that could have generated spammy links in the past then you have nothing to worry about. I suppose this is the main bone of contention. There is no doubt that the demarcation line between black hat and white hat has moved over recent years. I would therefore suggest that most of us have been involved in practices that are now considered unacceptable.
  • The author points to the folly of many Webmasters who have gone to considerable lengths to attempt to remove back links to their websites.
    The argument is made that these bad back links are probably already discounted by Google anyway and that “owning up” to them via the disavow tool could quite possibly produce no benefit at all.

What does this mean for small businesses?

Do not use the Google Link Disavow Tool unless you know you have links that are seriously hurting.


Google have since launched another video 18th Dec 2012 discussing the Link Disavow Tool, and they seem to be retrospectively qualifying its benefit to the average small business (they call them mom and pop businesses?). They are suggesting the real benefit is to use the tool IF you feel someone is attempting to attack your site with negative SEO by setting up spammy links to your site. You can then use the tool to disavow them.

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Ian Smith
Dr Ian Smith

32 years of marketing experience to help small businesses understand the world of website marketing.