When you buy an existing domain, you get its link profile as well. Removing low-quality backlinks with the Disavow tool can help you significantly improve your rankings for specific keywords. Read how to remove backlinks from Google and disavow unwanted links from your site.
When Google introduced the Penguin algorithm update, it forced us to pay attention to the quality of links leading to the site. One way to improve your visibility is to disavow those links that lower your rankings. To help you control your link profile, there is a useful Disavow tool, provided by Google. Keep in mind, however, that it is most effective when removing a manual action and when considering a reconsideration request. Matt Cutts also confirmed that this tool is fully effective and can deliver the expected results.
But where do links that have a negative impact on SEO come from? Among the sources of such links, there are several main activities:
- using link exchange systems,
- incorrect link profile building,
- black hat SEO activities, e.g. depositioning,
- cyber attack.
What is important, these activities can bring a short-term, positive effect. After some time, however, you may get an alert saying that there is a problem with the site.
Disavowing Links to Your Site. Which Links Should Be Removed?
Above all, it is worth removing all the unnatural links. While online you can find plenty of resources explaining the value of each type of link, the best solution is to analyze your backlinks by yourself and choose the ones you want to disavow. To do this, you should export a list of links from several SEO tools (such as Ahrefs and Majestic) and then check their parameters. However, your list should be primarily based on the links detected by Google Search Console. To download it, go to the Links report in Google Search Console and then to Top linking sites.
There you will find a list of domains that point to your site, sorted by links.
Theoretically, the best option is to completely remove the link from Google. In practice, however, this often turns out to be not only extremely difficult but even impossible.
Disavow is a very powerful tool, so you should use it with all caution.
Some of the most common link profile challenges include nofollow to dofollow backlink ratio or too many backlinks with a specific anchor text.
How to Disavow Links?
After collecting a list of backlinks you want to disavow, you will need to prepare a text file that will be uploaded to the Disavow tool. When compiling such a document, there are several rules you need to follow. The file format is important – it should be *.txt with UTF-8 encoding. In the file, include one link per line, with optional comments starting with a # mark. It is also possible to disavow an entire domain – in this case, place “domain:” before the domain name. Below, we present an example of the contents of such a file:
# Most links have been removed from the example.com website, but these have been omitted:
# I contacted the owner of blackhatseo.com on 07/01/2021
# with a request to remove the links, but I have not received a response.
Uploading the List of Links to Disavow
Uploading the file is a simple and intuitive process. The first step is to go to the Disavow tool. You will see a list of your properties, select the one for which you want to upload a txt file.
The tool will warn you to be extra careful as this is a highly advanced activity – then you can go to the next step by clicking the “Upload disavow list” button. Specify the file with the list of links to disavow from your local computer. If the file contains errors, the lines where they are found will be indicated at this point.
What to Keep In Mind when Disavowing Links from Google?
If you want to replace an old version of the file with a new one, remember to include all the links that were provided in the older versions. It is also important here that if you remove spammy links from the search engine, you can improve your rankings for particular keywords and pages. However, if you wish to remove a possible algorithmic filter (which is responsible for either a sudden drop in site visibility or complete removal from the Google index), you need to be patient – returning to your previous positions can take some time and require a lot of work.
Before removing links, it’s also recommended to make sure that the position drops result from your link profile – you can do this by, for example, comparing when the positions were dropped with the date of introducing Google algorithm updates.
The situation changed in 2016 – since then Penguin has been going real-time. So we can quickly notice how the website reacts to the links. This way, you can see the effects of your actions with Disavow sooner.