Spammy links have long caused webmasters a headache. But with the disavow tool, you’re able to do something about the links that are detrimental to your site’s health. Here, we introduce the disavow tool in detail and explain how and when you might use it.

What is the disavow tool?  

Back in 2013, Google announced that it had launched the hugely anticipated disavow tool. Fundamentally, the disavow tool enables webmasters to remove spam links that they once acquired, which can improve the overall health of their site. 

The tool is available from your Google Search Console, and it allows you to actively discount the value of an inbound link to your site. However, it’s not quite as simple as that, as Google warns that disavowing links can actually have a detrimental effect on your site. 

Let’s take a look at when and how you can potentially use the disavow tool to your advantage. 

When should you use the disavow tool? 

The main reason why you should consider disavowing links is to protect your site from spam. Spammy links harm your site’s reputation, which then have a negative impact on your site’s ability to rank on Google. 

People create spam links for a number of reasons. It could be a competitor trying to drive down the trust value of your site, or there could have been some recent changes in a Google algorithm that influenced your site’s trust. 

When you’re constantly receiving spam backlinks, it can have a hugely negative impact on your SEO, which is why the disavow link can come in handy. But as mentioned, Google cautions webmasters against using it, stating that “if used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google Search results.”

How to use the disavow tool correctly

Your first job is to create a list of backlinks to your site that you wish to disavow. You can do this using a platform like Ahrefs or Backlink History to help automate the process. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way to determine which links are inherently good and bad, as Google isn’t clear about this. 

Therefore, you need to use your judgement and investigative skills. Begin by visiting each of the sites you think are questionable and consider how harmful they really are. If the site seems suspicious based on its content, structure, or any other red flags, you might decide that you don’t want it linking to your site. 

You then need to create a txt file containing the links that you wish to disavow. Your txt file should meet specific guidelines, and you have the opportunity to add comments to the file if you wish to inform Google of your reasoning for disavowing the links. 

Thereafter, you can upload your file to Google and await their decision, which may take several weeks. We can’t stress enough how important it is to investigate links before disavowing them, as you need to guard against ruining all of the good work you’ve put into your SEO strategy in the first place. 

Avoiding spammy links in the first place 

While there’s not a great deal you can do to prevent spammers from linking back to your site, you can be mindful of link quality when working on your backlink-building strategy. Low-quality links with little trust will harm your site, so you need to avoid poor-quality paid links that are likely to do your site more harm than good. 

For advice and guidance on how to build high-quality links that will improve your site’s rankings, get in touch with the Footprint team today.

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