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No More Disavow Files Needed for Penguin Penalties?


WEBINAR: Google Penguin 4.0 is live - Real Time Penguin Insights and Outlook

Since Google made various statements following the launch of the Penguin 4.0 update, the controversy around Google Penguin 4.0 increased. Join the webinar and have Christoph C. Cemper - the founder of LinkResearchTools (LRT) and Link Detox answer all your questions.


"Less" need for users disavowing bad links?

In a typical brief and short statement, Google’s Gary Illyes commented, that Google has “less need” for users disavowing bad links

The background here seems to be that Google Penguin 4.0 is more granular and will allow effects of the “Penguin signal” on various scopes like pages, directory or even groups of keywords.

In Link Detox we support the detailed analysis of all these aspects for years now and already see confirmed by our LRT Certified Professionals when measuring such partial drops.

However, the statement was quickly taken out of context calling the “Disavow Tool” dead, or claiming that there would be no more need for disavowing bad links at all. Google didn’t say that, at all.

What Gary Illyes said, on the other hand, was, that the changes in Penguin 4.0 would devalue spammy links.

Read on and learn what the above statement implies and what changes you should expect to see in the way Google treats links.

A few days after Google announced the Penguin roll out, Garry confirmed with one Tweet that Google hasn’t changed the recommendations for the disavow tool after the Penguin launch.



Regarding past recommendations, we can always look back on what Matt Cutts said back in 2013. This hasn't changed a bit since then.

What Gary Illyes said, on the other hand, was, that the changes in Penguin 4.0 would devalue spammy links, rather than “demote” (aka Penalize) the whole site.


This is interesting news, because if it’s true (and we’re still waiting for the Google engineers to read all that and maybe have Garry pull back), then this could have the following implications:

  1. Google would change the impact of links again – Pre-2012 it was Zero to 100 in impact, after Penguin April 2012 it was a High risk (-100) to 0 to 100% (full ranking impact).
  2. All sorts of SEO experiments would not only be faster to measure (because of the Real Time Aspect of Google Penguin 4.0) but also only affect only portions of the site.
  3. The limited negative impact per 2. would mean that more aggressive “SEO testing” or blatant “link spamming” could start over again and find new heights. Especially in the case where only parts of the site’s rankings or pages would be impacted, but others not.
  4. Google said they might act faster and harsher with Manual Actions if they find abuse, which is totally possible but doesn’t negate 3 or 2

In any case, none of the above means that the use of the Disavow file is over, especially since even Google mentioned it's used for Manual Actions and other parts of the algorithm.

So far it doesn’t look like the full impact and opportunities of Google Penguin 4.0 are all analyzed or fully understood. However, we already see sites dropping (partially) but also recovering from past Google Penguin 3.0 penalties.

By no means is the disavow file or Disavow Tool useless, just because Google hopes to find more spammy links automatically.

Stay tuned!

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Christoph C. Cemper
Christoph C. Cemper is the CEO and Founder of LinkResearchTools and Link Detox. A well-known and distinguished expert in SEO who started link building for clients in 2003, building the Link Research Tools since 2006 and marketing it as SaaS product since 2009. When the famous Google Penguin update changed the rules of SEO in 2012, Christoph started Link Detox, software for finding links that pose a risk in a website’s backlink profile. He introduced ongoing link audits and risk management to the market in early 2011. In 2015, Christoph introduced Impactana, a new technology platform and SaaS product to measure the success of content beyond "social buzz", to find content, videos and people that make an impact.
Christoph C. Cemper
Christoph C. Cemper
Christoph C. Cemper

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