Google just released the first version of their Disavow Links Tool. The tool allows site owners who have received an “unnatural links warning” message through their Webmaster Tools account to let Google know which backlinks to their site Google should ignore.
The new tool to disavow links is found within a Webmaster Tools account, so site owners do not have access to it unless they have a verified Webmaster Tools account. It sounds like the initial tool is a bit crude and merely allows site owners to upload a list of links to be disavowed.
Matt Cutts repeatedly warns throughout the video that the tool should not be used unless there are serious concerns about the backlinks to a site and the site owner has exhausted all efforts to remove poor quality links by contacting the owners of sites providing the links. That can be a daunting task because most of the owners are overseas in India and Indonesia.
It sounds to me like Google expects to be deluged with requests to disavow links. Over 700,000 site owners with Webmaster Tools accounts received the unnatural links warning message the last time it was issued.
This is an issue for site owners who used poor quality link building methods, such as link placement in the tens of thousands of poor quality web directories, unrelated sites, and generally poor quality web sites.
The issue of poor quality link building came to the forefront with the release of Google’s Penguin updates in April of 2012. Prior to Penguin, Google simply discounted or ignored poor quality links. Since the Penguin updates started, Google is actively demoting the rank positions for sites using excessive backlink building that violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Trying to get thousands of links removed from poor quality sites can be a daunting task because many of the site owners are in India, Malaysia, Indonesia and other Asian countries. Some sites are charging a fee to remove the links. The 700,000 site owners who received the warning messages probably represent a small fraction of the sites that were actually penalized by the Penguin updates, so Matt’s cautious warnings are probably merited because they fully expect to be overwhelmed by requests to disavow links. Don’t expect to see a quick response from Google on this.
Oct 29, 2012 Update
Google’s Matt Cutts answered questions regarding the proper use of the new Disavow Links tool. One important part of the interview is that Matt mentioned that the tool may not work unless they have seen some action os a site owners part to remove bad links. In other words, simply submitting the Disavow Links report may not solve the problem. They do want to make you sweat a bit with this issue.