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.
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.
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What does the disavow tool do?
The Disavow tool is included in Google Search Console which was formerly known as the Webmaster Tools. This lets websites discount the value of an inbound link, protecting from the link-based penalties. The main reason you should disavow links is to protect the site from “bad” links harming its reputation (and thus it is rank on the Search Engine Results Page). Bad links can be created for a lot of reasons – competitors can utilize them to try and move higher in the rankings, users might inadvertently create them by talking about the store on an unsavory site, or Google’s algorithms might change in a way that causes a formerly useful link to become a problem.
Disavowing links is an important and useful part of any backlink strategy. Unfortunately, it’s often the part where people put the least effort into due to their lack of information and expertise in this particular field.
You might believe that the more links pointing to your site, the better it is. But this will not work in your favor always. Sometimes this can do more harm than good Following are some of the examples of bad backlinks:
- Sites set up just for the sake of links
- Spam sites
- Links in spam comments
- Backlinks from the sites in your non-target country/countries (e.g., a backlink from a German site when your audience is in the U.S.)
Unfortunately, many sites fall victim to these types of links because of negligence.
Why do I need to disavow backlinks?
Manual penalties are the monster of the Google-dominated web world. If you obtain a manual penalty, you will need to use the Disavow Tool. Manual penalties are the reason why Google launched the Disavow Tool in the first place. While the algorithmic penalty is not quite as terrible as the manual penalty, an algorithmic penalty can still deliver a knockout blow to any kind of website. If you have experienced a traffic drop because of an algorithmic change, there is a good chance that toxic backlinks are the reason behind it. The Disavow Tool will assist you in recovery.
Toxic backlinks happen to be the links pointing towards your site that has a high Spam Score. Spam Score is a useful indicator that tells you how many low qualities and dead links a website is hosting. If your Spam Score is above 2 – you should consider disavowing the backlink.
There are a few things you should ponder on to decide whether you should disavow the backlink or not:
- Backlinks from websites with high Spam Score – 17/17 are the maximum, 0/17 is the lowermost and safest score. Everything above 5 should be Disavowed.
- Look for a lot of links with discrete Anchor Texts, low Domain Authority scores, links from unrelated industries, and/or in foreign languages.
- Also, pay heed to hidden links – those are links that use anchor text as a “white” text or” ” a lot of spaces.
If you believe your site’s ranking is damaged due to low-quality links you do not control. You can access Google not to take them into account when assessing your site by disavowing your backlinks.
How do I know if I have link spam?
The spam link, which is also referred to as the low-quality backlinks—are ones that are pointed to your domain from either spam or poor authority sites. They will be simply identified by a sharp spike in traffic to your domain, often belonging to countries outside of these, which form your audience.
Spam links can take the following forms:
Low-quality guest posts
Well-written guest posts that deliver useful information to readers and a valuable contribution to a platform’s user experience form the pillar of an honest link building campaign. Links should be inculcated into the articles in a natural way, where the client provides a useful resource or information on the subject in question.
Directories were a once-popular link building method and still are used sporadically within the Penguin algorithm update wake. Though, like the other content platforms, submitting to just any directory could do more damage than good, link directories that allow you to feature your website without any further editorial checks should be avoided.
Comment and forum spam
You may have seen this type of link spam without even noticing it, particularly if you moderate your blog comments. These often take the shape of comments which agree with the original post before suggesting the link as further reading. This type of spam also occurs on forums, whether as new posts or comments, and sometimes gives multiple links from the same post.
You can also use the disavow tool to stop this from happening.
What Is Disavowing Backlinks?
Disavowing backlinks is a security procedure to prevent your website from linkage to certain sites that will lower your site’s ranking or, in some harsh cases, lead to penalties from Google.
A backlink is a link designed to link one website links to another. Backlinks are also known as “inbound links” or “incoming links.” A backlink can be used to increase the influx to your website but unfortunately, they can also injure your website’s reputation and working in the forms mentioned in the above questions.
If it isn’t already understood, disavowing backlinks isn’t something you do in a rush. It is a fairly thoughtful action that can impact your search ranking significantly, for better or for worse. A link disavow will request to Google to disregard those links to your domain. If the link disavow effectively, it won’t be counted in your favor or against you when determining the search results ranking.
Google has no obligation to consider your request for link disavowal; they say in their documentation that submitting the disavow file is a mere piece of advice. Nevertheless, in the same material, they define it as a tool to get rid of bad linking practices or undo the damage done by the poor SEO you hired, so you can expect them to honor the link disavow instead of being corrective.
There are many categories for you to consider when you decide to disavow backlinks.
Here is what you should do
- Remove the backlink if it’s irrelevant to your business,
- Diversify anchor text, and you should not over optimize them,
- Stay 100 miles away from dodgy sites that are offensive and might include harmful data.
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