Weekly SEO news: 11 March 2014
Welcome to the latest issue of the Search Engine Facts newsletter.

Google's 'disavow links' tool can help you to improve the Google rankings of your web pages. If you do not use the tool correctly, you can also damage the Google rankings of your site with the tool. This week's article shows five things that you should know about Google's 'disavow links' tool.

In the news: how to get keyword related links, the right URL length for Google, when to start with a new site, and more.

Table of contents:

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Andre Voget, Johannes Selbach, Axandra CEO

1. Five things that you should know about Google's disavow links tool

Google's 'disavow links' tool can help you to improve the Google rankings of your web pages. If you do not use the tool correctly, you can also damage the Google rankings of your site with the tool. Here are five things that you should know about Google's 'disavow links' tool:

Danger: disavow links

1. There's no need to disavow nofollow links

Nofollow links do not influence the Google rankings of the linked pages. That's why you do not have to include these links in the disavow links file that you send to Google.

Google's John Mueller made it clear that nofollow links don't have to be included: "You don't need to include any nofollow links [...] what happens with links that you submit as a disavow, when we recrawl them we treat them similarly to other nofollowed links."

2. The disavowed links will still be visible in Google Webmaster Tools

Google simply treats disavowed links as nofollow links. Just like nofollow links, the disavowed links will still be listed in Google Webmaster Tools.

Google's John Mueller confirmed this in a video. You don't have to worry if these links appear in the link list in Google Webmaster Tools.

3. Google ignores comments in your disavow file

You can use comments in the disavow file but Google will ignore these comments. The comments are only for your own use. Google's John Mueller explains this in a video:

"The disavow file is something that is processed completely automatically. If you put a lot of text in those comments in the disavow file, then nobody will be looking at them. Those comments are essentially for you, to help you understand the file a little bit better and those comments are not used by the webspam team".

4. It can be risky to change your mind

If you think that a link should not be disavowed, remove that link from your disavow file and re-upload the file to Google. The problem with that: if you reavow a link that Google considers unnatural, Google will re-penalize your website and it can be harder than before to get the penalty lifted.

Once again, Google's John Mueller explains this in a video:

"Links are essentially only disavowed as long as they are in the disavow file. So, if you remove them after some point, then essentially when we recrawl and reprocess those URLs and there is no disavow file for this domain then we will treat those as normal links again.

If you remove them, then essentially you are returning them to their normal state. If they were problematic links in the past then they would be problematic links again."

5. You cannot harm other websites with the disavow links tool

Your website rankings won't be damaged if someone includes your web pages in a disavow link file that is sent to Google. John Mueller:

"It's not that we are using this as a spam report form. So, when you get a message saying, 'You should remove this link to my website or else I'll put you on my disavow file', that's not a threat for your website. It's not a problem to have your website on a disavow file."

How to find the links that you should disavow

The disavow links tool is an advanced tool that should be used with caution. You can harm your website rankings if you do not use the tool correctly. It can be difficult to find the links that have a negative influence on your search engine rankings.

That's why we have developed the link disinfection tool. The link disinfection tool analyzes the backlinks that points to your website and it assigns a risk-score to each link. That makes it as easy as possible to find bad backlinks.

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2. Search engine news and articles of the week
How to get keyword related backlinks to your website
"The backlinks that point to your web pages will have a bigger impact on the search engine rankings of your website if the links come from pages that are related to your site. [...]

You will find web pages that are willing to link to other website, such as yours and web pages that are closely related to your keywords."

John MuellerGoogle: URLs should be limited to 2,000 characters
"As far as I know, there's no theoretical length limit, but we recommend keeping URLs shorter than 2000 characters to keep things manageable.

Your URL looks much shorter than that, so just from the length that would be fine. As Charlie mentioned (thanks!), there are definitely more important things to watch out for."

Got a Google penalty? Should you start a new site?

"Matt Cutts has said time and time again that digging yourself out of a spam hole is often harder then starting fresh.

Also, now that we know penalties may follow you to your new domain, if you don't start a fresh new web site, then making the decision to kill off a site is even more costly and timely. [...]

If it was me, I'd go in this order: (1) Try removing the bad links (2) Submit a reconsideration request (3) Repeat this a few times until it is successful (4) Wait two months for traffic to change (5) If no traffic change then start a new site."

Editor's note: use the link disinfection tool to remove bad links.

Statistics4 surprising SEM stats every e-commerce marketer should know

"SEM conversion rate was up 20% during the holiday season [...] The average order value of e-commerce orders originating from SEM went down during the holiday season [...]

During the holidays, SEM desktop conversion rate was 4X that of SEM mobile conversion rate [...] average order value of mobile SEM shoppers was up nearly 20% during the holidays (relative to non-holiday months)."

Google AdWords adds consumer ratings annotations to ads

"A brand's reputation matters more than ever before. That's why we've developed ways to show ratings, reviews and social endorsements for your business as part of your search ads on Google.

This kind of information makes your ads more useful to potential customers and can improve ad performance."

Search engine newslets

  • New generic top level domains pass 200,000 registrations.
  • Google Places: Email from Google about duplicate listing in your account.
  • Is Google killing its own ranking algorithm with scare tactics?
  • Enforcement of Google Shopping unique product identifier requirements.
  • Eric Schmidt: Google user data safer from prying eyes, even the US government’s.
  • DuckDuckGo: The privacy search ruffling Google's feathers.
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3. Recommended resources

Link disinfection: how to deal with bad links that point to your site

Hear what Matt Cutts says about bad links that point to your website:

link disinfection

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4. Previous articles
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