Do you have unnecessary links that are slowing down your site? If so, you might want to look into disavowing those links. Luckily, Google already has a tool to do this called the Disavow Links Tool. But what exactly does it mean to disavow a link, and when should you do it?
Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google that shows you how your website performs in search results. With Google Search Console you can:
We've written about Google Search Console in other posts, so for the top bullets check out that guide for more info. In the rest of this article we'll dive more into what it means to disavow backlinks and why you might want to.
Backlinks are links from other websites to your own.
Since Google developed their PageRank algorithm, backlinks have been one of the strongest ranking signals that can help build your website's authority. Not all backlinks are beneficial though.
While backlinks from reputable sites can skyrocket your rank, backlinks from toxic or spammy websites will negatively impact your rank. This is a common "blackhat" technique to harm competitive websites. Bad actors will build links from spam/toxic websites to harm another website, tanking its rank in the process. Fortunately, there's a remedy to this problem: you can disavow toxic links in Google Search Console. This tells Google to ignore the bad links, keeping your website free of any ill-effects caused by that malicious website.
Google's Disavow Links tool allows you to determine which backlinks you want search crawlers to ignore when crawling your site. This can be useful when thinking about optimizing your site for ranking purposes.
The process of actually disavowing links is quite simple.
First create a .txt file of the links you would like to disavow. An example txt file could look something like:
It does not matter what text editor you use, as long as you can save it as a .txt file.
Next, submit the .txt file to Google! Just head to the disavow tool and you are all set to submit the .txt file for Google to disavow the links.
NOTE: This process does not work with domain properties, only url properties. For more info check out Google's help docs.
Although the process for disavowing is pretty easy, deciding which domains to disavow can be a little more complicated. The main reason you should disavow a link is if it’s low quality or spammy. You want to avoid low quality pages linking to your site because this will negatively impact the user experience of your site and your content’s credibility, which can both consequently lower your rank.
So, what does a low quality backlink look like? Here are a few categories to keep an eye out for:
Keep in mind that disavowing a backlink should be your last resort.
When you disavow a link, you are telling Google that the link is a threat to your site. You really need to consider if disavowing the link could help or hinder you because disavowing the wrong link can hurt your SEO. Follow the steps outlined in this article and make sure you’re 100% certain the link you’re disavowing falls into one of the above categories.
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