There has been a lot of confusion among webmasters since Google rolled out their disavow tool in order to combat link schemes and assist webmasters with cleaning up their link profiles.

In a new video posted today, Matt Cutts answers a great question from a webmaster from my homeland (UK) and partially clears up the mystery surrounding their disavow tool. Its usage is relatively obvious for most, but the exact times and reasons for it being utilised? Not so much.

Disavow Tool and Manual Actions

James from Bristol, UK, asks:

Should webmasters use the disavow tool even if it is believed that no penalty has been applied? For example, if we believed ‘Negative SEO’ has been attempted, or spammy sites we have contacted have not removed our link.

“Great question,” says Matt before adding:

The primary purpose of the disavow tool is you’ve done some bad SEO or hired a bad SEO and now you need to clean up. You’ve done as much as you can do to get those links removed from the web, but some people don’t respond and you can’t get every single link taken off the web – that’s the perfect reason to use the disavow tool.

Matt then addresses other possible reasons:

If you’re at all worried about someone trying to do negative SEO, or it looks like there’s some weird bot that’s building up a bunch of links to your site and you have no idea where they came from – that’s a perfect time to use disavow, as well. I wouldn’t worry about going ahead and disavowing links even if you don’t have a message in your webmaster console (Google Webmaster Tools).

Disavow Usage

So we already knew that the primary usage was to clean up a bad link profile, but we now also know that you can use it even if there is no manual action against your website, or just because you feel like it.

Here are the main reasons you may want to make use of Google’s disavow tool:

  • Sites won’t remove your link, or try to charge you
  • Fear of being targeted by negative SEO
  • Spammy link profile (by you or SEO)
  • Your rankings have dropped

These aren’t all of the reasons for which you may want to use Google’s disavow tool – Matt says it can even be used just to ease your mind if you’re worried about any of the links pointing at your website.

Here’s the video: