The Definitive Guide answering How To Disavow Backlinks
Contrary to what many webmasters believe, not all backlinks have a positive effect on a website’s search rankings. If search engines believe a webmaster violated their guidelines when building a backlink, they may penalize his or her website.
It’s disheartening when you check your Google Search Console (GSC) or Bing Webmaster Tools account, only to discover that your website’s search rankings have flatlined. If your website’s recent rankings drop is attributed to bad backlinks, however, you can disavow them to restore your site’s dominance.
What Is Disavowing Backlinks?
Disavowing backlinks is a search engine optimization (SEO) process that involves the use of an online tool, known as a disavow tool, to neutralize the influence one or more backlinks have on your website’s search rankings. Google and Bing both offer disavow tools that you can use to specify the location of backlinks that are either harming or have the potential to harm your website’s search rankings.
Google’s disavow tool can be accessed by visiting
google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-link, whereas Bing’s disavow tool can be accessed by selecting “Disavow Links” under the “Configure My Site” tab in Bing Webmaster Tools. Both disavow tools are free to use, though you’ll need to verify your website in GSC and Bing Webmaster Tools beforehand.
When you use a disavow tool, you’ll tell Google or Bing to ignore the specified backlinks. With the exception of nofollow backlinks, nearly all backlinks have some influence over your website’s rankings.
Disavowing allows you to tell search engines which backlinks they should ignore when assigning rankings to your website.
The Benefits of Disavowing Backlinks
It only takes a few bad backlinks to send your website plummeting to the abyss of the search engine results pages (SERPs) where it’s rarely or never seen by human users.
Maybe you purchased a backlink from a self-proclaimed digital marketing expert, or perhaps you use software to automatically generate backlinks on blogs and forums.
Regardless, if one or more backlinks are interfering with your SEO efforts, disavowing will nullify their influence.
If your website receives a manual penalty from Google or Bing for backlink spam, your only recourse might be the disavow tool.
Not to be confused with an algorithmic-related rankings drop, manual penalties are handed down to offending websites by a search engine specialist. If a search engine specialist at Google or Bing believes your website is engaged in backlink spam, they may flag your it for a manual penalty.
Once penalized, you’ll have to remove or disavow the bad backlinks and then send a reconsideration request to the appropriate search engine.
Disavowing backlinks can also protect your website from negative search engine optimization (SEO). Negative SEO is a malicious optimization tactic in which a webmaster builds spammy backlinks to a competitor’s website. It’s performed to demote the targeted website’s search rankings.
If a competitor performs a negative SEO attack on your website, he or she will build bad backlinks to your site. In turn, your website’s search rankings may decrease, thereby boosting the search rankings of the competitor’s website.
The Risks of Disavowing Backlinks – How not to disavow links
Although it can prove instrumental in restoring your website’s search rankings following a penalty, there are risks to disavowing backlinks. Search engines treat disavowed backlinks indiscriminately.
When you disavow a backlink, whether it’s good or bad, search engines won’t use it as a ranking signal. As a result, you may unknowingly disavow good backlinks that are currently bolstering your website’s search rankings
If you accidentally disavowed a good backlink, you can undo it. For Google, you simply need to upload a new text file with the good backlink excluded to replace the existing text file containing the good backlink.
For Bing, you can undo a disavowed backlink by selecting and deleting it in the “Disavow Links” section of Bing Webmaster Tools. Unfortunately, it takes longer for search engines to reinstate backlinks than it does for them to disavow backlinks.
Choosing Backlinks to Disavow aka How To Disavow Backlinks Right
If you’re going to use Google’s or Bing’s disavow tool, you need to choose the right backlinks. While disavowing bad backlinks encourages higher search rankings, disavowing good backlinks has the opposite effect.
Don’t disavow backlinks just because they come from websites with low traffic or a low Domain Authority (DA). Assuming they were created organically and comply with Google’s and Bing’s guidelines, they won’t hurt your website’s rankings.
Instead, only disavow bad backlinks that either violate the search engines’ guidelines or were created by a competitor during a negative SEO attack.
Common types of bad backlinks to disavow include:
- Negative SEO backlinks
- Paid backlinks
- Private Blog Network (PBN) backlinks
- Backlinks produced automatically and in bulk using software
- Blog comment spam backlinks
- Forum spam backlinks
- Negative SEO backlinks
- Backlinks from websites or pages used to distribute malware
- Backlinks from scraper websites
- Low-quality web directory backlinks
Try to Remove Bad Backlinks Before Disavowing
Before using Google’s or Bing’s disavow tool, you should try to remove your website’s bad backlinks. If you published a spammy backlink in a forum post, for example, you can probably log back in to the forum to edit your post and remove the bad backlink.
Once removed, it will no longer influence your website’s search rankings, eliminating the need for disavowing.
For most backlinks, you won’t have the option of manual removal. Removing a backlink manually requires editing the publishing website’s content.
If you can’t edit the website’s content, you won’t be able to remove any bad backlinks in it.
Even if you can’t edit the content to remove a bad backlink, you can still contact the website and ask them to remove it. In your message, ask the person or business that operates the website if they delete the backlink.
If they oblige, you won’t have to use the disavow tool.
Don’t let spammy or otherwise bad backlinks restrict your website’s rankings on Google and Bing.
Whether they were created by you or a competitor, you should consider disavowing them. It’s an easy process that requires nothing more than a GSC and Bing Webmaster Tools account.