You may have heard that you must disavow toxic backlinks in order to remain competitive and while this isn’t entirely wrong, invalidating backlinks should not be taken lightly and done at random. Google has made it easier to disavow backlinks that are negatively affecting your search engine results page (SERP) rankings. However, invalidating links should be the last thing you do against negative SEO attacks.
Links in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Backlinks in SEO are an important practice. When you have good SEO backlinks or links from other websites, you can increase your Page Authority (PA) or how much search engines like Google see your site as trustworthy. However, not all links in SEO are beneficial and some can actually do more harm than good which is why Google developed its Disavow Tool.
What happens when you come across bad links and how are they related to negative SEO?
The bad links that damage and put your website up for penalization are usually:
- Spam sites in the comments
- Links that are spam press releases
- Links from websites with low Domain Authority (DA) or Page Authority (PA) and higher spam score
- Links from irrelevant sites
- Links coming from spam discussion forums
However, this does not mean that every link should be invalidated or disavowed. Some backlinks can boost your brand awareness and visitor engagement.
These links are common tactics in a negative SEO attack. Negative SEO is when competitors use unethical and black hat practices in order to sabotage a rival’s SERPs ranking. Other negative SEO strategies include:
- Hacking websites
- Duplicating website content or websites
- Posting fake negative reviews
- Sending fake removal requests and effectively removing a site’s backlinks
Link Disavow – How It Works
That’s where Google’s backlink Disavow Tool comes in. Before upgrading and becoming today’s Disavow Tool, Google Penguin was the algorithm to fight low-quality content and black hat SEO link building tactics. The Disavow Tool has definitely improved in its ability to ignore or devalue spammy links but it isn’t perfect.
Before diving into the Disavow Tool, it is important to remember that invalidating a link is an important decision to make and should be your last resort. By invalidating a link, you are informing Google that a link is a threat. By invalidating links at random or without truly understanding how the Disavow Tool works, you can actually damage your site’s SEO.
Checking for Bad Links
While you can check every backlink manually with care (some spam sites may have harmful viruses), you can also use an SEO research tool or hire professional help. Popular tools that can be used to find bad links include:
- Google Search Console
- AHREFs Backlink Checker
- Moz Open Site Explorer
- SEMrush Backlink Audit
After narrowing down which links can negatively affect your site, it is a good practice to compile a spreadsheet and double-check which links will be affected by Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Before Invalidating a Link
Using the Disavow Tool should be the last thing you do. First, try to request for a link’s removal from the linking website. You can do this via email addresses, contact numbers, or contact pages with forms on the site. If this information is unavailable on a website, you may want to look for the site owner on social media platforms, leave a comment on a blog, or look up the webmaster on Google. If there is absolutely no way to contact the site owner or there is no answer or action, then you can utilise the Google Disavow Tool.
Google’s Disavow Tool
To use Google’s Disavaow tool:
- Analyse and narrow down the links list to a certain number of backlinks that you are sure of invalidating.
- Save your list as a .txt file.
- Head to Google’s Disavow Tool and select the site that you would like to invalidate.
- After clicking on “Disavow Links,” you will be warned about how the feature works.
- If you are sure about the links you have complied with, upload the disavow file.
- Click “Send,” and wait for Google to process the request.
The Last Resort
There is nothing wrong with invalidating links as long as you have done your best to manually remove a link or have already reached out to a bad link’s webmaster. When you have no other choice, there is nothing wrong with using the Link Disavow tool to protect your site and your SEO strategy. To know more, connect with GTECH, the SEO company in Dubai that helps run the SEO campaigns, monitor & make personalised strategy for better performance.