Some SEO related blog posts
Some SEO related blog posts
The disavow file was introduced by Google after outcry from webmasters who simply couldn’t remove bad links from their profile, although not through want of trying. They were rightly worried that Google would penalize their website because of links obtained by previous SEOs / in-house marketers or by themselves but simply couldn’t get them removed.
Find more information on Disavow files here. Warning: Consult an expert before submitting a disavow file as incorrect use will negatively impact your search engine rankings.
The more low quality links that point to your website, the higher the probability that you could be negatively affected by a Google penalty or algorithm update. This would normally result in a partial/total loss of traffic and rankings.
I would say that most, if not all websites (unless you have a brand new website with no legacy influence) should make use of the disavow file right away. It’s natural that over time your website has attracted all sorts of low quality links, some automated (content scrapers/bots) and some manual (forums/blog comments/paid), some of which are on sites that have been banned by Google or offer very little value and are purely for advertising purposes.
At the start of any new project I would recommend a backlink analysis over all else, as Google is being much more targeted and strict about the quality and type of links pointing to your website. Ultimately, removing an inbound link altogether is the best long-term approach but the disavow has its use in the short term.
Often, the process of collecting backlink data, analysing them and then contacting all the worst offending sites can take time. Once a batch of bad links has been identified, I’d recommend adding them to a disavow file first before attempting to contact sites for removal. This might buy your site some time, especially if you’re on the precipice of a penalty. Once you start having success with link removals, you can periodically update the disavow file, excluding any domains or pages you have successfully removed links from.
This process is trickier when you are working on an established website. On one hand you want to protect it from being affected by future Google updates, but sometimes bad links are in fact helping it rank highly for core keyword targets.
In this scenario you have two main options:
Although scenario two can be painful at first, this approach reduces risk massively. Bad links can always be replaced by a good solid link building strategy, focusing on promoting linkable assets & resources contained within your website.
The impact of a Google penalty can last for weeks, if not months (depending on the size of the backlink profile and how many links need to be removed / disavowed.)
Proactively analysing your backlink profile and disavowing low quality links is critical for sustained online visibility. If you bury your head in the sand, knowing you have low quality links pointing at your website you may regret taking proactive measures to deal with these links sooner.
All opinions are my own. Contact me to talk about my freelance seo services.