When should you disavow backlinks and how?
In 2012, the Google Disavow Tool was launched. This allowed webmasters to tell Google to ignore certain links when determining where a site should be located in the searches. It came in incredibly useful for certain sites. Many sites received ranking penalties for being linked to by spam sites, and it was nice to be able to tell Google to ignore those links proactively.
But, do you need to use the Google Disavow Tool today? If so, when and how should you use it? Let’s explain!
According to Google, the answer is “probably not”. Google claims that the only time you really need to be using the Google Disavow tool is if you have received a manual penalty in Google Webmaster Tools. This manual penalty will also be sent to your email address, just so you know that Google is punishing you in some way.
If you do not have a manual penalty, then you probably don’t need to use the Google Disavow tool. You would have had to have done so in the past. However, by all accounts, Google now automatically ignores the toxic links anyway. This means that they are neither having a positive or a negative impact on your position in the searches.
The chances are that you won’t even get a manual penalty nowadays. A lot of webmasters find that the Google Disavow Tool is old news. It exists, but the Google algorithm is so great that there is no sense in using it.
Still, there is no harm in using the disavow tool. However, do bear in mind that if you use the disavow tool, you won’t be getting any benefit from the links that you disavow. So, if you disavow the wrong link, then you could end up finding that you plummet in the searches.
As we said, Google doesn’t really suggest that you use the disavow tool nowadays. Those still using it will have received some sort of manual penalty in the searches. Others may be taking a proactive approach just in case Google introduces a new algorithm update that penalizes sites that have a huge number of spam links.
There are a few things that you will need to consider to determine whether a link should be disavowed.
You will need to use one of the SEO tools (MOZ or Ahrefs) for this. Check if the domains that you are getting the backlinks from have any ranking keywords or traffic. You can also check their authority score. The main thing to look out for when looking for spam links are foreign domains, de-indexed domains and domains with no traffic.
It is unknown what triggers Google to label certain links as spam. However, it is likely to be a combination of the following:
You won’t need to disavow links if only a small chunk of your links have a high spam score. Google isn’t too concerned about that. Every site gets some spam links on occasion. If you disavowed every spam link that came your way, you wouldn’t have much opportunity to do anything else related to SEO.
This means checking to see whether the site is relevant. To determine whether the link is relevant, look at the linking site’s niche. Does it match up with yours? If it doesn’t, can you think about why your link is there? If there seems to be no reason why your link is on a site, then it may be worth considering disavowing it. Although, once again, we must stress that this is something that you only really want to do when you have a manual penalty.
The first thing you will want to do is create a disavow file. You just need to use Microsoft Notepad for this. The file must be saved as a .txt file. On each line, you will tell Google what links should be disregarded. If you want to disavow links from a single page, then type the following:
Obviously, replace the link with the url of your backlink.
If you want to disavow an entire domain, then type the following:
Again, replace the domain name with the domain that you want to disavow.
Once you have put all the links that you want to disavow into the tool, save the file. It should be saved as a .txt format. You then need to head to the following link and log in. This page can no longer be accessed from the Google Search Console.
Upload the file. It might take a while before Google takes into consideration your disavowed links.
As stated, you don’t need to disavow links. Not unless you have received a manual penalty. If you have spammy links and no manual penalty, it would be worth spending your time getting new quality backlinks instead.
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