Disavowing Links: SEO Guide & First-Aid Advice

Google's links disavowal tool allows you to ask Google to ignore the selected backlinks.

Disavowing links is a big issue. Every content marketer wants high-quality inbound links to their site. These backlinks will give you a big boost when it comes to your SEO efforts and help you climb SERPs faster.

But what about the incorrect backlinks? You know—those from spammy websites with low-quality content and poor domain authority. To help you delete these bad backlinks, Google has created a link deactivation app.

We’ve created this guide to break down this functionality. We’ll clarify how the Google Link Disavow tool works, list links that you should consider disavowing, and share expert opinions on the method.

What does the Google Link Disavow Tool do?

Launched in 2012, the Google Disavow Links Tool allows you to ask Google to forget the selected backlinks. The disavow links tool aims to essentially clean up your backlink profile and delete any spammy, low-quality backlinks that could lower the search engine ranking of your site.

Disavowing Links: SEO Guide & First-Aid Advice

Disavowing links is usually seen as the last resort not recommended for daily use. That’s because there’s always a chance that Google could penalize you if you unintentionally disavow good backlinks or those that didn’t trigger SEO problems. Many small and medium-sized companies are unlikely to need this method because they do not deal with large and complicated network links.

That said, if you got a manual action message in the Google Search Console that looks like the one below, it’s time to consider disavowing links.

Disavowing Links: SEO Guide & First-Aid Advice

This alert from Google means that there could be bad links, spamming links, or unnatural links to your web. They may be related to link schemes: deception techniques designed to make you rank higher.

This could involve purchasing and selling links, high-volume trading links, and using programs to automatically link to your site.

To avoid getting this alert, check your backlinks frequently and keep an eye out for suspicious links that can lead to negative SEO issues and force Google’s algorithm to lower your rating. Read their webmaster quality guidelines to better understand what Google wants in terms of website quality.

Disavowing Links: SEO Guide & First-Aid Advice

If this message is received, disable links to avoid being penalized. To do this, go to the Disabled Links tool in the Google Search Console, pick your website, and add a file containing the links you want to disable. After you’ve taken these steps, Google will review the links and rewrite your site, which normally takes a couple of weeks.

Disabling Google Tool Links

After you have resolved the possible manual penalty and deleted the backlinks, contact the Google Search Console for a request for reconsideration—a follow-up check of your site to ensure that you have disallowed links that created problems. You may also ask Google to rewrite your URLs to accept new links and bad elimination links.

You can review the “Links to your pages” section of the Google Search Console to get a better understanding of your backlink profile. Shows what websites link to your content:

Disavowing Links: SEO Guide & First-Aid Advice

This information will help you identify spamming sites that link to your content. You can export this list and sort it through the file to find all the questionable links in your own disavow list and carefully check each one. This informal backlink audit will help you find all the shady backlinks that might result in an algorithmic penalty from Google.

5 Link Forms that should be called Disavowing

Bad backlinks come in several different ways.

Below are a few examples of the most common forms to look for. Although this list does not contain all types of links that you should disavow, it is a strong starting point.

Disavowing Links: SEO Guide & First-Aid Advice

Spam Comment and Site Links

Google doesn’t generally frown on users who link back to similar material in comments or forums. However, it’s hard for webmasters to use forums to paste their backlink profile. If you go to reputable websites and attempt to overload their comments or forum pages with links back to your website with no additional background, Google may see it as spam and could penalize your website.

Domain Links Expired

And if you have links that come from influential websites, they’re no good if they’re dead. At one point, maybe these were links from websites that you never thought of disavowing. Once they have expired, however, everything Google sees is in violation of its webmaster quality standards and may penalize you for them.

Bad Quality and Spammy Site Links

Spammy sites with a lot of outbound links, or sites that tend to be compromised, could be worth disavowing. This may also be a warning that your site is being targeted for a negative SEO attack. If you do not disavow these links, consider keeping an eye on your Search Console dashboard’s manual actions section to ensure that no future action is required.

Links Paid

Paid links are simply backlinks to the site you pay to get. Although they are notoriously difficult to capture, there are ways to detect them. For example, if you see the word “supported post” in a dofollow link article, that’s a paid link. However, paying links can be more discreet and appear in the form of dofollow links with exact match anchor text. That does not actually mean it’s a paid link, so check the site to make sure it’s not full of spam or low-quality content.

Private Blog Network Link

Private blog networks (known as PBNs) are large groups of blogs and websites operated by the same site owners to create backlinks between them and get their content to rank higher on Google. A couple of years ago, they were a major trend, but they’re no longer seen as a viable white SEO hat technique. Back in 2014, Google turned its back on PBNs and began taking action to de-index them entirely. A good way to identify them is if several sites have very similar backlink profiles or if one site is constantly connected. If you notice any PBN backlinks to your blog, please consider disavowing them.

3 SEO Expert Best Practices for Disavowing Links

If you find a spammy link to your blog, don’t disavow it right away. According to Matt Cutts, a former distinguished Google engineer, the first step is to reach out to someone on the website responsible for the backlink to delete it manually.

Although some people may respond to your request, there is a fair chance that you won’t hear back from several of these websites. If that occurs, Alex Panagis, founder of SEO and marketing agency ScaleMath, says you can take a constructive or reactive approach to disavowing links.

A cautious approach includes periodically testing the backlinks to ensure that they do not come from spammy, low-quality webpages. A reactive solution is to use Google’s disavow link tool to minimize any negative effect on SEO.

Panagis says that a reactive approach is more common to disavowing links. This is because Google is extremely good at understanding the links. If you’re impacted by a huge amount of spam you’ve spotted before Google, there’s no real need to proactively check for the wrong backlinks.

That said, the constructive approach provided by Panagis is also a choice.

“Update your file as you go to will the chance that your site will ever be affected so that you never have to fear that the day will come when your site will unexpectedly be affected,”

Panagis says.

Jason Berkowitz, founder of the inbound digital marketing agency Break the Web, says that you still need to be extremely vigilant when it comes to disavowing. He says that disavowing good backlinks, even by mistake, could negatively affect your search ranking. It only recommends disavowing links if the backlink is likely to have a detrimental impact, such as a traffic drop or a manual penalty.

Panagis is in agreement with this attitude.

“When you have a high-level domain that inevitably attracts a lot of links when the site is written, as long as the link profile is diverse and the majority is not spam, the need to disavow it individually has never really been raised,”

Panagis says.

Conclusion

Google’s links disavowal tool allows you to ask Google to ignore the selected backlinks. The aim of the tool is basically to clean up your backlink profile. Disavowing links is usually seen as the last resort not recommended for daily use. Google can penalize you if you accidentally disavow good backlinks or if you don’t have SEO problems.

If you got a manual action message in the Google Search Console that looks like the one below, it’s time to consider disavowing links. Google’s warning means that there could be bad links, spammy links, or unnatural links to your web. They may be related to link schemes: deception techniques designed to make you rank higher. Backlinks will give you a big boost when it comes to your SEO effort and help you climb SERPs faster.

Bad backlinks come in several different ways, and Google might penalize you for them. Spammy sites with many outbound links or sites that tend to be compromised might be worth disavowing. Paid links are simply backlinks that you pay for getting from other pages. Expired domain links can be a warning that your site is being targeted for a negative SEO attack. Click here to see 5 Link Forms that you should consider Disavowing. Backlink audit: An informal backlink audit will help you identify all the shady backlinks that could result in an algorithmic penalty from Google.

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