Google’s Gary Illyes on Notifying Google of Toxic Links

Google’s Gary Illyes on Alerting Google to Toxic Links

During a recent Q&A session, Google’s Gary Illyes addressed a common concern in the SEO community regarding toxic links and how to notify Google about them. This issue has been a topic of discussion for over fifteen years.

Question About Alerting Google To Toxic Links

“Someone’s asking, how to alert Google of sabotage via toxic links?”

Gary Illyes responded to the question by emphasizing that Google is adept at ignoring irrelevant and harmful links. He suggested that webmasters can disavow toxic links or file a spam report if they feel the need to take action.

Disavow Links If You Feel Like It

Illyes provided a link to Google’s explanation on how to disavow links. The disavow tool allows site owners to inform Google about links that may be harmful, such as paid links or link schemes that violate Google’s guidelines.

“If you have a manual action against your site for unnatural links or suspect such an action is imminent, it’s advisable to try removing the harmful links. If removal is not possible, you can use the disavow tool to distance your site from these links,”

Google recommends using the disavow tool only when a significant number of spammy or low-quality links are pointing to a site and have resulted in a manual action or are likely to do so.

Origin Of The Phrase Toxic Links

The concept of toxic links emerged in response to Google’s crackdown on low-quality and paid links. In competitive industries like online gambling, some businesses resorted to creating harmful links to undermine their rivals, a practice known as negative SEO.

The term “toxic link” gained prominence after Google’s Penguin updates in 2012, which mandated the removal of such links. An entire industry focused on link disavowal emerged, coining the term “Toxic Links” for marketing purposes.

Confirmation That Google Is Able To Ignore Links

Illyes recalled an incident from 2012 when a site owner believed their rankings had plummeted due to negative SEO links. Upon investigation, it was revealed that the site’s drop in rankings was actually linked to a content issue flagged by a Panda update, showcasing Google’s ability to overlook irrelevant links.

With advancements like the spam brain AI, Google’s capacity to disregard harmful links has likely improved since then, offering reassurance to webmasters dealing with toxic backlink profiles.

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