Is SEO Dead? And, Did Google Disavow Kill It?

If you haven’t heard, Google recently announced this Disavow tool inside the Webmaster Tools system and it basically allows you to make it so that Google does not count incoming links to your site from certain places. The idea is that when low quality links are affecting your rankings, you have the ability to get…

google disavowIf you haven’t heard, Google recently announced this Disavow tool inside the Webmaster Tools system and it basically allows you to make it so that Google does not count incoming links to your site from certain places.

The idea is that when low quality links are affecting your rankings, you have the ability to get on there and say “okay, I want you to ignore those links”. So, basically what happens here – if you look at the overall picture – Google is making it so that it’s now crowd-sourcing the detection of crappy links.


This is going to do some real damage to the SEO world. Personally, I think that SEO in the traditional sense is DEAD. And I’m not the type who likes to say “X is dead” all the time because I think people do that crap just to be provocative. But I think, in this particular case, SEO really is dying. It is in its death throes right now and it’s going to be dead really soon.

That’s because Google is actively fighting all the traditional things that SEO people used to do in terms of building backlinks. Usually, the backlinks were to go out there and find low hanging fruit and put backlinks on there, get them to directories and stuff like that. But the problem is that they’re low quality links and Google knows that you’re doing all that stuff and they don’t want you to do it!

So, the Disavow tool is really just going to help make sure that that happens.

What To Do? 

Now, here’s what I think you need to be doing as a blogger because of this Disavow tool.

I definitely think that you need to reconsider having easy links on your blog if that’s what you do. Now, what I mean by that is if you have a bunch of sites in your blog roll, you might want to consider taking those things off.

If you have comments that are “do follow” and if you allow people to post “do follow” backlinks on your blog in order to entice more commentary… well, just realize that a lot of those people are going to comment on your site because it’s low hanging fruit. They want the backlink and you might be artificially  increasing your comment counts but the discussion quality is generally going to blow chunks and you’re going to basically put your site out there where you might end up in somebody’s disavow list. If they’re seeing a lot of your URL in the disavow list, then they’re going to automatically say that your site isn’t worth that much because it’s a crowd source thing.

What I definitely think you should do is make sure that you do not allow any easy links on your site for that reason.

Also, if you’re doing any kind of structured SEO right now in terms of buying some monthly service where they’re supposed to help you build backlinks… STOP IT! Just knock it off!

All that stuff is dying and if you’re still paying for it you’re just wasting your money. I’ve used sources like these in the past and I’ve turned them all off a long time ago because I saw the writing on the wall.

Do not pay for any monthly SEO service where their job is to go out there and build backlinks for you. Not only are you wasting money but there’s a really good chance that it’s going to negatively affect your SEO. You don’t want to do that. Just don’t waste your money on that.

What you really want to do is concentrate on providing really quality stuff for your readers. Stuff that they’re going to want to share. You want everything to be natural. You want people to link to you because they find that your stuff is of high quality. Let it happen organically!

This has been my approach to SEO for most of the 14 years that I’ve been in the business. Like I said, I have tried a few of these link building services a long, long time ago. I tried them for a few months, turned them off because the whole thing made me nervous. And now, everything’s coming telling us why it made me nervous.

“Old School” SEO Is A Waste Of Your Time

So, don’t worry about SEO. I think SEO – in the traditional sense – is a waste of your time.

If you write for human beings and really concentrate on providing them useful stuff, stuff that people are going to want to share out on social media and share with your friends and share via email…guess what? Your SEO will take care of itself because it’s going to happen organically. And that’s what Google wants.

Google wants this stuff to happen organically. They’re trying to provide the best quality search results to the people who are searching on So whenever you’re doing all these things that are trying to game them, they’re trying to find you and knock you down! So, why even play that game?

So, anyway, that’s what I think you should do about the Google Disavow tool. I think the old-school SEO world is probably going to have a freak out over it. But, I think people who are doing things right and are concentrating on providing real value… you’ve got nothing to worry about.

I think it’s actually going to do the world a lot of good and I think it’s going to help Google provide even better search results for us.


  1. Couldn’t agree more about PPC being part of an important part of promoting a site internationally. I’ve found it to be a really useful approach when clients are just getting started in a new market, and despite carrying out their due diligence still need to understand just how their site (or sites) are going to perform (e.g. from an engagement / conversion perspective) when positioned in front of a foreign audience. Obviously it’s much quicker to see results with PPC, but it also makes it easier to plan and justify SEO related decisions you make. Regardless of the approach, still can’t overlook the importance of getting the technical side of multi-national SEO right from the start too.

  2. This is the right web site for anyone who hopes to find out about this topic.
    You know a whole lot its almost hard to argue with you (not that I really
    would want to?HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a subject that’s been discussed for decades. Wonderful stuff, just great!

  3. I think there is some over-reacting going on in the market as well. I have been contacted by a guest blogger, an agency working for someone I interviewed a few years ago, and a company whose product I reviewed asking me to REMOVE links to their sites, even though they are in perfectly normal posts.

  4. While I agree that using services and such is a waste of money. I learned that the hard way and saw my one site crash with Penguin. It seemed to be penalized until late August and I started showing up in the rankings some more.

    To be honest, I still am doing some backlinking. However, quality is the key nowadays. The content that your link is in has to be relevant and it has to be on a relevant site.

    I don’t think SEO isn’t dead. But the spam SEO tactics that services used to use are. That is for sure.

  5. Wow!

    Interesting article and thoughts. It’s pretty clear that there isn’t a cut and dry solution.

    The challenges for a new blog are immense and I guess you’ve got to be patient and continue compiling content because you have a passion as opposed to doing it primarily because you want to build an audience.

    I don’t quite agree that SEO is dead because compiling content is an SEO activity in itself.


  6. Hey David,

    Long time follower, been a while since I’ve commented on anything here.

    While not entirely relevant to start off with, I’m loving the audio. Brings out YOU more to the audience and allows me to listen rather than just read…

    Not onto the article.

    I agree. Content is what make people love or hate what you have to say. Google and the other engines want content that people care about and find useful and are willing to talk about and send to their friends, etc. If you’re just playing the SEO game, good luck because you’re not likely to get very far when google sees that happening.

    Provide something useful people can really connect with not just on an emotional level but also what they find relevant and it helps them and google will see that and respond over time. Basic stuff with keywords is fine but trying to dig into what’s going on, not worth the time and effort.

    Basically what you already said and again, I agree.

  7. At the end of the day, SEO, blogging, social media and all that
    are stuff that are really out of our control and one cannot predict
    Google’s next move or Facebooks next move.

    This is why it’s important to make sure that you build your list
    and get more active communicating with them. Personally
    I am moving from Aweber and Mailchimp to Office Autopilot
    because I want emails to be sent out based on the actions
    or inactions of folks on my list. (<<<— pretty neat stuff)

  8. “You want everything to be natural. You want people to link to you because they find that your stuff is of high quality. Let it happen organically!”

    Terrible advice. If no one knows about your high quality post and never see it, how would they share it? You personally have grown a big list, you have rss subscribers, and you have solid long-term readers so of course they’ll share.

    Try that with a new blog and let me know what happens.

    1. Well, my blog is 10 months old and I did take a couple of steps to get the initial traffic, but I did no specific SEO or backlink building. I started connecting with people on Twitter, who started visiting my site and sharing the posts. I also took out a couple hundred dollars worth of targeted Facebook ads to help jump-start things – driving people to a squeeze page with an opt-in to my list in exchange for two free e-books.

      Around month 7, the number of organic Google visitors started taking off and is still increasing. My list is growing and my readers are giving me great feedback. So while I agree that one does need to get one’s material in front of people somehow, I agree with David that trying to game the system with artificial backlinks and other not-so-kosher tactics is a losing proposition.

    2. That’s where guest blogging and building relationships with other bloggers comes in.

      As an SEO for an IR 500 ecommerce company, we’ve been affected by crappy links. We’re deploying guest posts and creating an onsite blog to attract natural links ourselves. So, no, it is not terrible advice.

      Also, another point on how SEO is dying is the whole (not provided) problem. Out of 80K visits nearly 20% show the keyword as “not provided” which greatly reduces visibility.

  9. Hey Dave,

    I have done all of my S.E.O since the beginning when I got into web master 5 years ago. My site has always ranked well from the beginning on the Front page of GOOGLE due to the shear amount of written content that I have on my Computer Repair Business website.

    In traditional S.E.O there were two ways to skin the cat, you could have many pages with meaningful content and the other method for websites that are not content heavy you would use a back linking strategy.

    At this point I am really scratching my head as to what a website such as a Normal computer repair website which is not heavily content based is supposed to do in this instance?

    Seeing how GOOGLE is pretty much killing or has already effectively killed the back linking strategy one would normal use on a website without much written word I can’t imagine the amount of obstacles that one will have to jump over just to rank well for their business without creating an online book .

    What are people supposed to do in these instances? I really don’t have a clue as to what the answer or approach would be seeing how GOOGLE has not taken this scenario into consideration.

    What about all of the Legitimate Business Owners that have legitimate company websites that fall into this category? Basically from the way GOOGLE see’s it is that these do not count as a credible business entity and building back links of High quality as they deem sufficient would literally take years or many thousands of dollars.

    We all know that spammers and lazy people are responsible for this outcome but now…. we are pretty much being run by a dictatorship and apparently one that almost seems like it is trying to kill the online market place!

    The bottom line here is that not everyone on the NET is running a blog nor do a lot of business owners have time to hire dedicated staff to maintain a blog or the Companies Social Media strategy (if they even have one) which most companies do not.

    Lets face it from what I see is that people when they come to a business website have “ZERO” interest in doing any lengthy reading they want it short and sweet and right to the point and for the most part, are too lazy to even handle that much when it comes right down to it. So what are you supposed to do with that scenario other that utilizing incoming back links?

    Here is the website that I built for my computer repair business >> and my site has 156 pages of content which is unheard of fro a computer repair businesses website!
    The average computer repair website usually has 10 pages or less which is the norm.

    Despite the fact that I write for people that do wish to learn, my research tells me that my target audience consistently chooses to remain ignorant and does not want to read anything if it’s more than a paragraph or possibly two long, despite the fact that it would be in their best interest to read it.

    Enough of all of that! Your thoughts on what I have just said would be of interest to me if you have some collective thoughts on what I have just mentioned above.

    Thank you Dave


    1. @Campbell it’s not about quantity of content but the quality of the content. Put yourself in the minds of your ideal prospects and create content that answer their questions in detail. You can simply create a 10 minutes video which you can embed on your site so that you are essentially creating social content that Google is looking for and at the same time you are connecting at a much deeper level with your website visitor. Also if you transcribe a 10 minute video, you will have over 600 words of text which you can place underneath your video so that folks who would like to read text can get to still digest your content.

      Google’s algorithm changes are actually a good thing an will force content on the Internet to get better. (<<<— change your mindset and how you look at the situation and you will see its for the best)

      1. Hey thanks for the reply. I am aware of what S.E.O Best Practices and have always done strictly white hat S.E.O and have always ranked very well on Front page of Google for my efforts.

        My question is how does one get a new site ranked when it is a content sparse website that in the past would have utilized a back linking strategy in lieu of the content is king strategy?

        This is the part that I am really hazy on with the new and recent shenanigans from GOOGLE and I think that a lot of us are asking the same question all over the net.

        I am thinking about creating another computer rapier company website for myself with a different approach to the Layout and presentation format where it will accommodate those that are not inclined to learn and want short and sweet synopsis of services provide without having to read a long article.

        This is not my style as I am a academic but , obviously, if the educational format is deterring people because the majority of the public is lazy and chooses to remain stupid, then what can you do but to give them what they want??

        Baffling I know, but unfortunately, it’s very true!

  10. David, I’ve been hearing about this too recently.
    I’m about to start a business. I have no intention of hiring any Fiver people to do any of this.

    My question is, aside from the organic SEO or attraction to your site b/c of the good content quality, how to do key words play into this?
    Do we still go by the old advice–use KWs in the headline, first para, etc. Do we just let the normal language of the content–using words that relate to our topic–engage of the content ?
    Or do we (Perhaps sensibly) do a bit of both?


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