Disavowing Backlinks

Google’s disavow tool enables website managers to inform Google that they do not want a backlink to be counted or considered when Google reviews the links pointing to their website. This can particularly useful if there are numerous unnatural or spammy links pointing to a site. Our SEO Office Hours notes below compile advice from Google’s regular video sessions regarding disavow options for poor quality backlinks.

Search Console Shows a Sample of the More ‘Relevant’ Backlinks

December 20, 2016 Source

The backlink data in Search Console is a sampled set of backlinks which Google considers to be more relevant. For small sites, this might include all the backlinks. The data includes links which are nofollowed and may have been disavowed.

Google Penguin Devalues Links Instead of Penalising Them

October 4, 2016 Source

The new algorithm in Penguin devalues spammy links instead of applying a penalty. Despite this, John says getting rid of disavow completely would be a bad strategy, as you can use the disavow file for any links you do not want to be associated with.

Add Nofollow to Shared Links

July 29, 2016 Source

If you are giving out links to be shared on other websites, you should ask for nofollow to be added. If a few links are added without the nofollow, it probably won’t cause a penalty, but you can disavow the URLs with the links to be safe.

Status Codes and Disavows are Not Permanent

July 29, 2016 Source

404 and 410 do not have permanent effects. If you change them back to 200 then the pages will become indexed again, or redirects will start to pass PageRank. Disavow also isn’t permanent, so if you remove the URLs from the disavow file they will start to pass PageRank, although this won’t happen until the URLs are recrawled.

Don’t Disavow Links to Old Content

July 8, 2016 Source

You don’t need to disavow links for old content which is no longer on the site, you should only do it for links from low quality sites.

Disavow On the New Domain After a Migration

October 16, 2015 Source

When you migrate a website to a new domain, you only need a disavow on the new domain.

You Don’t Need to Remove Links If Asked

April 21, 2015 Source

If someone asks you to remove a link to them, you can just ignore them. They can disavow you if they want, which won’t harm your site.

Disavow Backlinks on New and Migrating Domains

December 2, 2014 Source

If you migrate a site to a new domain which has unnatural backlinks, you should disavow the unnatural links on the new domain as well.

Reconsideration Requests Don’t Work for Algorithmic Penalties

October 6, 2014 Source

Reconsideration requests can’t be made for algorithmic penalties like Panda and Penguin. You need to do is disavow the links, or fix the quality issues for the penalty to be lifted in time.

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