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Should You Disavow Links? A Wrong Move Can Harm Your Website Rankings

Disavow Links

If you’re a website owner who’s tried different link building strategies to improve your website’s organic results, a drop in rankings is likely to raise questions about how many of those links really mattered. Should you disavow links, at least some of them?


How do you use Google’s disavow tool to make corrections in your backlink profile when Google tells you a manual action is necessary to remove bad links?


While the majority of sites did not necessarily have to use the Google disavow tool, there was excitement all around when Google announced in November 2020 that it had migrated the disavow tool to its Google Search Console.


Consequently, if you really need to disavow links, here are some strategies you can use. Be careful, as Google in its disclaimer makes it clear that incorrect use of this tool can harm your website’s performance in the search results.


  1. Follow Google‘s Penalty Samples

When Google penalizes a website for shady backlinking practices it offers sample links that demonstrate how its algorithm detected those links. The easiest way to identify backlinks that harm your website’s organic results is to look for patterns suggested by these sample links, and then make a list of all those backlinks.


  1. Remove PBN Links

If you have ever paid for a backlink or participated in link schemes, the very notion that a penalty has hit your website indicates Google knows how to detect unnatural links. It is extremely good at detecting such backlinks and shows great distaste for private blog link networks or link farms and those who support them.


  1. Check Anchor Text

Overoptimizing keywords for backlinks is never a good idea, especially high-value keywords or money anchor text. If you know you are building a link, Google knows that as well. A link profile should basically consist of random links coming from websites that actually decide the anchor text and not you.


  1. Refer To Google’s Non-Editorial Links List

Google has a whole list of non-editorial links including forum spam, dodgy links that could harm a website algorithmically, signature spam, and other links that do not really appreciate the value of a website passing link juice in any way. Should you disavow links, refer to this list regularly.


  1. Banish Malware Sites

Though this may seem a difficult task, malware sites that are flagged and do not load on web browsers are likely to contain spam. You wouldn’t want a backlink from one of these sites. This is a typical toxic link that you should avoid like the plague.


  1. Detect Redirected Backlinks

If you’ve ever tried the Googlebot User Agent, you know it detects redirected links. Click on such a link and Google detects it differently from the link appearing to the end-user. You know this link is not really useful to your website and is bound to raise a red flag.


  1. Look For Dead Links

Imagine a situation where a website tries to rank for a certain term and then removes the article or even the entire domain all of a sudden. As a website owner, if such links are pointing to your domain, you’d disable these links or other shady 404s at the earliest opportunity.


  1. Remove Neighborhood Spam Sites

Lastly, it’s best to avoid bad neighborhood spam websites in your backlink profile. For example, links to pornographic sites or gambling sites that carry very little content and are loaded with malicious pop-ups get red-flagged almost immediately.

Exercise extreme caution when you use the Google disavow tool. Deleting links from authority sites, even by mistake, is likely to negatively impact your website’s organic results.

Therefore, should you disavow links, it’s best to take the help of an SEO consultant to work out the best link-building strategy.