Backlinks are at the heart of SEO, but not all links will be of benefit to you. Low-quality backlinks can harm SEO efforts to rank a website, potentially even leading to penalties from Google. While you might not consciously try to build links from bad sites, it is impossible to control all links directed at your properties. For example, a competitor might try to sabotage your rankings by adding your URL to spam sites, an SEO agency might have used irresponsible tactics to gain quick results, or quality linking sites might have been hacked and lost their value. In these cases, you need to disavow the links, so Google no longer counts them within your backlink profile. The following process can quickly help you identify and disavow any unwanted links.
Checking Your Link Profile
The first stage in the process is to actually find all the sites linking to you. Unfortunately, not all tools will report the same links, so you might need to use a few services to get the most accurate results. If you haven’t already created an account with Google Search Console, this should be the first step. The Google Search Console will provide a lot of important information, allowing you to see how the search engines view your site. Next, choose from services like Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, and SEO Spyglass, for a detailed link analysis. Some of these services offer free searches, but you typically need a premium account for the most accurate results.
Identifying Negative Links
The next stage is to identify any harmful links you want to disavow. Some links might immediately look suspicious and can be removed without too much analysis. There will, however, be certain links that need further investigation. If the anchor text linking to you is irrelevant to the article, this is often a sign that you should remove the link. The page linking to you could feature spun content, while there may be a large number of outbound links on the page. Finally, the page may be an empty forum profile page, but this is often a sign that it was created using automated software, particularly if these links appear in bulk.
Disavowing Unwanted Links
Before disavowing links with Google, it is a good idea to email site owners requesting a link removal. You won’t always get a response, but you can often quickly remove a portion of the links you no longer want. For the remaining links, though, use the Search Console to download all the links directed at your site. Next, choose the links you want to disavow and upload this as a text file. A tool like disavow.it can make the process slightly quicker and easier. You won’t notice any immediate changes, but Google should gradually start to ignore these unwanted links.
With negative SEO becoming a serious problem for some unfortunate site owners, disavowing links must become a part of the overall optimization process. Google have largely placed the burden of identifying and removing low-quality links onto the shoulders of site owners, but the process is not too taxing. As long as you are willing to run regular checks, you can quickly spot anything suspicious and clean up problems before they really arise. SEO is constantly changing, so disavowing links is just one of the newer changes that determines whether you can rank and then sustain a top search position.