Backlinks are an important pillar of a strong, functional website. However, it’s equally important to properly manage backlinks. If done wrong, there can be serious consequences. There’s often a great debate on how to rightly acquire backlinks, but have you ever thought of how to get rid of them? What should an SEO executive do if they need to disavow backlinks?
As always, Google has provided sufficient information and updates regarding the matter of backlinks disavowals, and what place they have in your SEO strategy. Let’s shed light on why you would need to disavow a link, and if the need arises, how will you do it?
Why Google Created The Disavow Link Tool?
Google has been standing up against spammy backlinking activities for more than 10 years now. Initially, the search engine came up with the “Nofollow” option back in 2005 to combat spam links.
Although Google kept on adjusting and upgrading its algorithm in subsequent years, we did not see a strong scheme for blocking irrelevant and unnatural links up until 2012; when Google brought the Penguin algorithm.
This algorithm was an external filter that saw search results passing through it. This option basically meant that if there was any penalty, it could stay there for months even after the site was properly cleaned up.
These algorithm penalties were later supplemented by Google with Manual Actions. Through this feature, the webmasters were told if the search engine detected a pattern of unnatural, manipulative or deceptive outbound links.
At times, the whole website would be demoted even if a link scheme was targeted towards a single page or subsection of the site.
The disavow links tool, then, allowed webmasters more control over all the links that Google would rank or penalize on their site.
During the first three updates of Penguin, the majority of SEO experts were of the view that disavowing links was highly important to protect sites from lengthy demotions in search results. However, this changed with the fourth iteration of Penguin which was released in 2016. The Penguin 4.0 algorithm enabled Google to target link spam at a page-specific level. Moreover, this version brought forward a substantial shift from “demoting” to “devaluing”, which many experts labelled this change as “algorithmic wrath to algorithmic apathy”.
Throughout the updates, there’s one thing that still remains constant – it is essential to address Google penalties as they come up. This can never be a problem if you stick to white hat SEO. However, as a webmaster, it’s very important to know how to keep a clean backlink profile to have a strong, working, and long-term SEO strategy.
You can also head over to Semrush as it offers amazing tools to manage the complete process of disavowing links. While you do it, make sure you integrate your Google Analytics and Search Console with the audit tool of Semrush. This will help you get accurate backlink data.
Submitting a Disavow File In Google Search Console
It’s quite simple to submit disavow files, but a mere mistake can be very costly. Finding it hard to properly conduct a backlink audit and submit disavow files? Get in touch with experts at SEOhub today.
Let’s start with the baby steps – you need to determine if you need to submit the disavow file to Google. For this, you need to download your backlink profile to check who is linking to you. You’ll find a plethora of tools to ease this process. For instance:
- Moz Open Site Explorer
- Site Report – you’ll find this in the search traffic section in the Google Search Console. This is free, but it might not report all of your backlinks.
Many experts argue over the accuracy and working of all the mentioned tools. To be on the safe side, you need to begin with a complete picture of your backlink profile. Ideally, you should download a report from each of the tools and cross-reference using the “remove duplicates’ option in Excel.
On the other hand, if you’ve already conducted a backlink audit, and you just need to find if there are any new links, these tools will enable you to see the links gained over a certain period.
Now that you have your backlink profile ready, the next important step is to start with the audit process. Start simple – identify all the poor sites that are linked to yours.
How do you define a “bad link”? These are some of the attributes you can look for:
- The site linked to yours is not indexed in Google. You can use the site: search operator along with the domain to check this.
- The site has no relevance to your business. Make sure you only get links from websites that are offering the same products/services like yours.
- The site contains viruses or looks spammy. You can tell just by the look of the site if it’s a bad one.
- Sites that have very low domain authority. However, be aware of the fact that some spammy websites also have a high DA score. You can use Moz’s DA metric to fish out all the spam links.
- Links coming from different forums. This happens when a deliberate comment is made on a forum to build links.
- Links coming from link farms. These are sites made for the purpose of linking a target page to pass Page Rank.
While checking all your backlinks, highlight all the poor ones you’ve found. Proceed by filtering the spreadsheet to see all the bad links. Paste these links on a new tab.
Step 3: Create The Disavow File
Here comes the actual thing. However, before you proceed to disavow, make sure you contact the sites first to request the removal of the link. If the site you’re approaching does not respond back, then you may disavow the link.
The disavow file basically contains all the list of domains that you submit to Google through your Search Console account. You’re telling Google that you have no relation to these links and that it should ignore them. Once you do this, the Google algorithm will not consider these mentioned links when it determines the ranking and authority of your site.
While you do this, make sure you always disavow links at the domain level. This will help Google ignore all links from that site. Edit the list to have only the domains in it. After that, you add “domain:” on every line since this is the format for a disavow file.
The disavow file should be in the .txt format.
Step 4: Submit The Disavow File
Now for the final thing, to submit the disavow file, log in to your Google Search Console account and access Google’s Disavow Tool. Select the site property from the drop-down menu and click the “disavow links”. A warning message will pop up from Google. To proceed further, click ‘disavow links’ again.
After the audit process, the submission comes in this order:
- Click “choose file”
- Select the .txt to disavow file you created
- Upload the file and click ‘submit’.
Updating The Disavow File
The off-page activities don’t stop, and so you’ll keep having the unwanted links as well. To update the disavow file, you will have to add the newly acquired links that you’ve identified in the previous disavow file. It’s important to understand that uploading a new file will give Google the message that only these newly identified links have to be ignored. The search engine will not ignore the ones you submitted previously. Therefore, always update the file instead of uploading a new one.
Here are the steps you need to follow:
- In the Google Search Console Backlinks tool, click ‘download’ to get a copy of your previous disavow file.
- Add all the new domains you’ve found in this file by copy-pasting them.
- Save this updated disavow file as a .txt file
- Click ‘choose file’ back on the disavow tool
- You’ll now find the new disavow file
- Upload the file and click ‘submit’.
A small box in red will appear showing ‘results. This will show a message from Google indicating that you have successfully submitted the disavow file and there are no errors. Moreover, you will also get a notification in the Messages section of your Search Console account.
Now the next time Google crawls your website, it will consider the disavow file and all the links mentioned in it will not be evaluated as part of your backlink profile
Now that you’re aware of the disavow links and how Google’s tool work, it’s highly essential for you to monitor your backlink profile and only disavow domains that should be removed. With the help of this article and some useful backlink audit tools, there’s no way your site isn’t going to reach the top! That said, if you require professional help to ensure top rank for your digital business, make sure to get connected with SEOHUB.pk today! We have the most skilled professionals, carrying rich experience in digital marketing and SEO.