When Should I Disavow Backlinks?

Disavow Tool

Backlinks are a key factor of an effective SEO strategy, helping enable stronger website rankings for your company. Businesses can leverage backlinks from higher domain authorities to grow and improve their presence in the SERPs which is integral to overall enhanced performance of your company. We are not going to go into too much depth here into what backlinks entail, but we’re going to figure that if you’re reading this article, you have a pretty good idea of what backlinks are, how they function, and why you want them for your business’s website. 

So, this leads us to the question of certain backlinks that you think are actually hurting your site rather than helping it, and therefore, when or for that matter if you should disavow backlinks at all.

SEO management platforms such as MOZ, SEMRush, Aherfs, etc. provide tools that you can use to check your backlinks for toxicity. Often, businesses who don’t have a deep understanding of the entire SEO universe (it’s vast and complex, but here at Firon Marketing, we’re experts in it and SEO is one of our top services) sees that they have a few (or many) toxic backlinks, and they start to panic. These SEO programs have a tendency to amplify concerns about the toxicity of your backlinks, blowing the situation needlessly out of proportion. They can make you feel like your backlink situation is a downright emergency that you need to rectify immediately. 

The question then, is: do you? 

There is a lot of confusion concerning backlinks, and how companies should properly respond to untrustworthy, or threatening backlinks. So, we are going to dive a little deeper into this topic to put an end to the unnecessary panic. 

Common Mistakes Made When Disavowing Backlinks

So, let’s say that you see according to your SEO tool that you have several toxic backlinks, and you’re extremely concerned about their impact on the integrity of your site and decide you want to remove them. You start the process of attempting to disavow your backlinks, creating a .txt file that you then upload to the Disavow tool, and now you feel relieved that you may have resolved the so-called problem that was possibly threatening your site. 

A few days later, you now run a new audit and you see to your horror that the situation is not “fixed,” and in fact, now your Domain Authority has dropped. So, now again, you’re panicking that you made a mistake, and that it’s too late, and now you made the situation even worse.

The Two Big Disavow Tool Takeaways

1. SEO Tools Are Not Human

It is easy to forget (or most people just don’t know) that these SEO tools we use are not 100% accurate. They are meant to offer insight into items that MIGHT be issues, but may not actually be an issue. Therefore, just because you see that you may have toxic backlinks does not necessarily mean that the links are bad or detrimental to your site. It’s good practice to navigate to backlinks that you’re suspicious of and review them to determine if they truly are toxic links. 

2. The SEO Impact of Disavowing

Google is smart and there is no real evidence that disavowing backlinks will yield a positive effect on your website. Furthermore, if you remove links that are beneficial for your site, giving link juice, then it can only hurt your domain authority. 

Why Have a Disavow Tool if There is No Reason to Use it? 

To answer this, we need to take a look at a quick snapshot of SEO backlink history. At some point, many years ago some SEOs (SEO experts) discovered that the more backlinks a website has, the higher it would rank in the SERPs. So companies started to buy backlinks…just to have them, meaning that they weren’t always buying quality backlinks, but it still worked in helping yield higher domain authorities for them. The search engines eventually figured out that companies were cheating the algorithms and started to crack down on and penalize websites that were buying backlinks.  

The main problem is that we do not have control over which sites are linking to us. So, keep in mind if there are many sites that happen to be irrelevant to your category and offerings that have started to link to you, know that this is not your fault  Subsequently, if another company decides to sabotage you and purchase disreputable or nefarious backlinks to your website, understand that that’s not your fault either.

Ok, so we have the disavow tool. What is its purpose? 

The disavow tool is a way to alert Google that you are aware that certain backlinks to your site are spam, or disreputable and to ask Google to not penalize you for them and to please remove them from your site. 

The thing is Google has gotten a lot smarter over the years. Google is now so smart, in fact, that it knows that websites will probably have some low quality backlinks mixed between their reputable ones, and is therefore becoming more lax concerning them. So, there is no need to take any action for the most part and you can rest assured that you can let them be and they won’t yield adverse effects on your site. 

However, if you do have massive amounts of spammy links to the point where it is suspicious that you have purchased blackhat backlinks or that another site is trying to sabotage your website, then yes in that case, go ahead and use the disavow tool. 

Hope we cleared up that confusion for you. If you still have questions regarding SEO or other facets of digital marketing, go check out our other articles to brush up on your knowledge. Better yet, partner with us and leverage our major internet and marketing savvy so you can have the most productive and profitable 2021 yet. 

Reach out to us for an audit today. 

Derick Michael
Derick lives and breathes SEO. Creating organic ROI comes easy to him.