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“We’ve detected that some of the links pointing to your site are using techniques outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines…”

Receiving this notification from Google can be unnerving. In the past this message was sent to signify that Google was taking action against your entire site – in the worst of circumstances, invoking the dreaded banhammer. After such a blow, the road to redemption was paved with tedious link removal then submitting a reconsideration request.

Depending on how savvy you are about your own SEO you may or may not realize that paid links, link exchanges, link schemes, spammy links – overall “unnatural links” – are pointing to your site. Whether a third party has used black hat tactics to help your page rank or the competition is using negative SEO to go after you, Google’s algorithm finds them and raises a red flag. Hence the message quoted above.

Matt Cutts, head of webspam at Google, adamantly reassures that most will not need this new tool. Yet, if you find yourself in the situation, all is not hopeless. First step would be to remove as many backlinks as possible and submit the reconsideration request. Removing the bad links help ensure that search engines will not continue flagging your site and penalizing you in various ways, including a drop in ranking. We all know how good for business that is.

You can download a file that lists the latest links and the order in which Google discovered them to get a good start as to where to begin the process. Once you have taken these necessary steps there will still most likely be some spammy links that remain. This is where the new tool to disavow links enters the picture. This tool allows you to upload a text file of links you would like to ignore. Per Matt Cutts’ words, “Google takes this as a strong suggestion…not something we absolutely have to abide by.” Google will determine if they want to drop these links from it’s processing. All in all, getting links disavowed will take weeks to take effect. Reversing this, in other words re-avowing a link, would take even longer so make sure those links on that text file are the right ones.

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