This is going to be an interesting observation and understanding both for the webmasters and link builders. The real time Google Penguin update, released and announced recently on 23rd September, is quite interesting. In its official blog, the search engine indicated in an interesting way that the updated algorithm has learnt to avoid the bad links. Now this can be good news for the link builders and webmasters only when they know how to interpret the right meaning of the comment.

What did Gary Illyes say?

In the words of Gary Illyes of Google, “Traditionally, webspam algorithms demoted whole sites. With this one we managed to devalue spam instead of demoting AND it’s also granular AND it’s realtime.” With this, Gary also stated that now there is no need to use the disavow tool atleast for the real-time Penguin update.

Hence, let’s get into an in-depth analysis of the subject, and make it an easy path for the webmasters and SEO experts to follow.

Difference between devaluing and demoting of spam

Devalue and demote are the two terms which most SEOs and webmasters are getting confused with. Gary explained this in his comments, and the explanations are pretty clear. Devalue is for not valuing the spam, and demoting is for altering the value of website based on the spam. Both have serious implications and effects. The problem with the Google penguin update rose when the algorithm started demoting sites based on spammy and low quality links. This was the reason for penalization of thousands of sites.

Now, Google has changed its policies with devaluing. To devalue spam is simply not to give any value to spam. Hence, instead of counting a spam link and altering the site rank based on that, Google will simply disregard spam links altogether.

This is good news for webmasters and they can be relieved that bad links will not be counted though they can be detected. Hence, the effects of the bad links on their sites will not be seen anymore.

What is the disavow tool?

The disavow tool was used earlier to tell Google that the link that is disavowed is not to be followed or counted by the search engine for ranking the website. This was done so that any linkthat the webmasters thought to be potentially harmful or bad for the site’s rank and reputation could be disregarded. This was a healthy way to tell Google not to count the link among the other good backlinks. It’s always been a safe option by webmasters as buildingspammy link, and simply disavowing it helped them get out of penalties. It helped in online reputation management too. Sometimes when spams are not in your control, and you see that alink is problematic, you can disavow that using this smart tool.

How was the disavow tool used to fix Google penguin problems?

The Google penguin update in 2012 hung the work for many webmasters with the strict measures of the algorithm. Websites had started getting penalized for backlinks. Many webpages got de-indexed, lost rank and position. Brand reputation was highly damaged due to receiving harsh penalties. It was at that time that SEOs and webmasters started finding a way. The disavow tool came into existence in October of 2013. Since then, it has become much simpler for webmasters to disavow any link by simply using the tool. Penalties could be avoided from the penguin algorithm with the timely application of the tool.

Is the disavow tool still useful?

As with the real-time Penguin update of September 2016, Google has started devaluing spam links and bad links. Therefore, the prime reasonbehindthe use of the disavow tool is gone. Now, there is no need to use it to tell Google to disregard a particular link.Also, Google has stated in the announcement that it can detect which links are spammy and which are not. This holds an important clue to the concept of using the disavow tool. GaryIllyes has commented that manual actions are still active, and they will detect spammy activities more effectively. He also added that the penalties for such activities are going to be more severe than before.

Should you use the disavow tool?

As Google has its own system active to detect which links are spammy and which aren’t, and it will devalue links as per that, there is no need to use the tool. You are potentially safe from getting de-indexed or losing rank. But in case you know that a link is seriously bad, and in no way you want it to affect your site’s reputation, you can use the disavow tool for it.

Google’s take on the use of the disavow tool and devaluing spam

Gary Illyes commented on behalf of Google, that there is no need to use the disavow tool anymore, particularly while being concerned about the Penguin real-time update.

Did Google really stop penalizing for the bad links?

The Penguin update was initially released to punish websites for over optimizing with unethical ways. But with the launch of the real-time update, policies have changed. Instead of demoting a site or page, Google has chosen to devalue the links. This is both good and bad for site owners. If you are over optimizing with the target of getting a rank quickly, then you would be disappointed as most of the inorganically made links will get devalued by this new algorithm update. But if you are building links only organically, you should actually be relaxed that any unwanted link which could be spammy won’t harm your site’s ranking or reputation due to the devalue process.

The best way to build links in the light of the real-time update

The best way to build links is by simply going the organic way. You won’t have to think of using the disavow tool unless absolutely needed. Even existing sites, which are recovering from the Penguin penalties, are not required to use the disavow tool. However, they will need to keep an eye on how the recovery process is going with their fresh link building campaign and bad link removal process.

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