Google's Disavow Tool: A Blessing for Webmasters?

The recent updates to Google's algorithm have affected many sites all over the world especially exact match domain sites like This has led to webmasters and SEO companies frantically relooking the link profiles of their sites and trying to delete what they think are spammy links. Well now Google has made that process much easier with the introduction of the link disavow tool. The much anticipated launch of this tool comes several months after Bing launched their own version of the tool. So what is this tool and why have webmasters been so anxious to use it?
Any webmaster will tell you how difficult it is to get rid of bad links as it involves contacting the corresponding webmaster with a link removal request. There are many obstacles in this process, for instance; a lack of contact details on the website, ignored requests and old sites that are not actively managed anymore. Some directory webmasters have resorted to charging a fee to remove a link to the site due to the volume of link removal requests.
What makes this process even more frustrating is that it is not easy to identify exactly which are the "bad links" and which links Google gives a site credit for. Rookie webmasters have sometimes caused more damage by removing good links which has left sites dropping in the rankings anyway. This is one of the downsides of the tool as good sites could end up being flagged as a source of bad links along with the "link farms" and paid directory sites.
In the last year companies in competitive industries have been using negative SEO tactics by linking competition, or "enemy", sites to spammy paid directories which causes the sites to get penalised by Google's algorithm. Google denied that negative SEO was occurring in the past, but by launching this tool it is clear that they knew that this was becoming a problem. Although it would be easier now to remove the bad links it opens up the possibility of sabotage from disgruntled employees, for e.g., who have access to the webmaster tools logins as they could remove the valuable links that a website has built over time.
If we disregard some of the dangers of the disavow tool for a second, it is clear to see that the majority of webmasters and SEO companies will find this tool indispensable. As the competition for rankings becomes more and more competitive we can expect to see many new tactics to try and thwart Google's algorithm. All I know is that it's good to know that Google is investing time and money in tools that will help webmasters clean up their sites.

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