What Are Disavow Links? Common Mistakes When Disavowing Links To Google

What Are Disavow Links?

Common Mistakes When Disavowing Links To Google


Please come with me to this article about disavow link!

For sites that deal with unnatural links, it’s important to thoroughly analyze each link, identify which ones are unnatural, and then take action. That includes removing links when possible. Then deny what you cannot access.

That sounds simple enough, but there are a number of ways this process can lead to serious SEO problems. One problem that can be extremely dangerous is adding the wrong domain to the disavow file. For example, add powerful and native domains to the disavow file using the domain directive.

In my experience, it’s usually a knee-jerk reaction to a serious unnatural alignment problem and can cause major problems. Since disavow files can be hidden (after being submitted), they can be easily forgotten and can drag down SEO performance in the long run.

What Are Disavow Links?

The Disavow Links tool is a feature in Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). In it you can submit a list of backlinks that you want Google to disavow, asking Google not to rank the page with these links. It was launched at the end of 2012.

Read more about: Backlink generator – Backlinks & SEO for Entrepreneurs

The Google Disavow tool became a very popular topic after the Penguin 2.0 update. Changes made to the algorithm have “dissolved” a lot of abused black hat SEO techniques. And affects a lot of webmasters who suddenly find themselves on the wrong track.

The effects are harsh and visible. And site owners were desperate to recover their dropped rankings.

When Do Perform Disavow Link?

When Traffic And Rankings Plummet

Obviously, a significant drop in traffic and rankings indicates a problem with your site. However, you should not rush to disavow your links. Make sure that’s the problem first and try to rule out everything else before you decide to do it.

The whole concept of disavowing unnatural links has to be taken very seriously as it can also harm your rankings. This process should not be done in a hurry.

You should take the time to weed out the bad and you should submit the list for disavowing only if you are 100% sure about the links you send. You should also remember to manually try to remove harmful links. Not only to show Google your good intentions but also because you don’t know how long the opt-out process can take.


When Your Site Is Spammed With Negative SEO Backlinks

If your site has been subjected to a large-scale negative SEO attack, then you might consider disavowing those bad links.

But how do you know when your site is hacked? And how do you know which links are good and which are bad?

You can use Tools like Semrush, and CognitiveSEO to identify which backlinks are natural. And which link is spam to consider removing or disavowing links?

When You Get A Manual Action Penalty On Your Site

Manual operations are not something you often see. They are rare, isolated cases. However, they do exist, and if your site is one of them. You might consider using the disavow tool.

There are many types of manual actions, so make sure you only start disavowing links if you see the “Unnatural links” warning.

Other types of actions are related to Thin Content or User-Generated Spam. These issues are fixed in other ways without using the Disavow Tool.

To see if any manual actions are applied to your site. Go to Google Search Console and find the Manual Actions section in the menu on the left.


9 Most Common Mistakes When Disavowing Links

Mistake #1: Disavow Individual Urls When The Entire Site Needs To Be Disavowed

I’ve seen a lot of disavow files where the webmaster just put in a bunch of URLs. Like this:

[+]   http://www.example.com/spam-post

[+]   http://www.example.com/spam-post-1

[+]   http://www.example.com/spam-post-2

In May 2013, Matt Cutts, then head of Google’s spam team, recommended using disavow as a machete instead of a surgical scalpel and disavowing links at the domain level:

[+]   domain: example.com

Of course, there can be a domain with good, valuable links pointing to your site and you only need to disavow a few pages.

Mistake #2: Deny Some Subdomains When The Whole Domain Needs To Be Disavowed

Similarly, sometimes webmasters go crazy trying to list all the subdomains they find:

[+]   domain: dev.example.com

[+]   domain: mail.example.com

[+]   domain: m.example.com

[+]   domain: www.example.com

[+]   domain: www2.example.com

Rejecting the root domain also rejects all subdomains. So the above lines can be replaced with:

[+]   domain: example.com

Of course, there are cases where you want to disavow a specific subdomain but not the entire domain. Especially when you are dealing with free blogging platforms like blogspot.com and wordpress.com. This leads to the next common mistake I see…

Mistake #3: Deny An Entire Domain When Only Certain Subdomains Need To Be Denied

It’s not uncommon for webmasters to put free blogging platforms in a position of rejection:

[+]   domain: blogspot.com

[+]   domain: wordpress.com

[+]   domain: tumblr.com

By disavowing these blogging platforms at the domain level, you are asking Google to de-link value from all blogs hosted on these domains. Instead, specify each subdomain that you disavow:

[+]   domain: spamexample.blogspot.com

[+]   domain: superspammy.wordpress.com

[+]   domain: unnatural-links.tumblr.com

Sure, there may be too many spam blogs pointing to your site. But if you’re going to remove these sites from orbit, it might be time to start over with a new domain anyway.

Mistake #4: Denying Blogspot Domains With Different Country Codes

[+]   domain: spamexample.blogspot.ca

[+]   domain: spamexample.blogspot.de

[+]   domain: spamexample.blogspot.fr

[+]   domain: spamexample.blogspot.ne

[+]   domain: spamexample.blogspot.pl

You don’t have to specifically disavow all the different Blogspot domains. Because they are all normalized to the domain “.com”. You can easily convert all international Blogspot blogs to .com using Excel. If you only have a list of subdomains, do a Find and Replace for:

[+]   com *

and replace with:

[+]   com

If you have a list of URLs instead of empty subdomains, look instead:

[+]   com */

and replace with:

[+]   com/

Mistake #5: Using “Site:” Instead Of “Domain:”

[+]   Site: example.com

Actually, this was a mistake I made. I mixed the search operator “site:” with the disavow command “domain:”. Unfortunately, Google will catch this error when you try to upload the file.


Mistake #6: Adding A Space After “Domain:”

[+]   domain: example.com

Does this break anything, or does the parser ignore it? I have no idea. This is a “better than safe” recommendation. If you’re using a spreadsheet to generate the disavow file, you can use this formula on your domain list:

[+]   = “Domain:” & A2

(Where A2 is the cell containing the domain you want to disavow.)

Mistake #7: Including Unnecessary Verbose Comments

You can include comments by starting a line with “#”. This line tells the parser to ignore that line. However, this does not mean that you should fill the file with your notes:

[+]   # contacted webmaster 3 times ([email protected])

[+]   # but no response

[+]   domain: spamexample.com

[+]   # contacted webmaster twice ([email protected])

[+]   # and he sent back a malicious reply

[+]   domain: spamlinks.com

[+]   # the “ww” on the next line is NOT a typo:

[+]   domain: www.spamlinks.com

This is not a mistake. It is just a waste of your time. Disavow files are handled automatically, so no employee at Google will read the file and appreciate your thoughtful notes

You should only include notes in the disclaimer file to help you understand and edit the file later. Contact information and contact dates are important to track, but they do not need to be reported in the disavow file.

Mistake #8: No Notes At All

Doesn’t help much when I find disavow file without any comments. Especially if I need to modify it or if the site has gone through several rounds of Request for Reconsideration. Why are X and Y sites rejected? Has Site Z been disapproved since its inception or was it recently added? I want to add a line like this at the top:

[+]   # file rejection for example.com modified August 24, 2015

Then I’ll break down disapproved domains by type and indicate when they were added:

[+]   Added # spam blog on August 24, 2015

[+]   domain: spamexample.blogspot.com

[+]   domain: superspammy.wordpress.com

[+]   domain: unnatural-links.tumblr.com

[+]   Added # spam folder on June 5, 2015

[+]   domain: unnaturallinksdir.com

[+]   domain: Russian-spam-directory.ru

[+]   domain: spamlinks.com

This will be useful later if you don’t remember why you disapproved of certain domains. And just in case you lose rankings because you reject good sites. You can go back and narrow down the culprits based on the date they were disapproved.

Mistake #9: Disavowing Valuable, Natural Links

There is a real chance that you could disavow links that Google considers to be a good organic vote for your site. But if your site is under the influence of manual action, you probably can’t spend too much time looking through overly sophisticated links.

Sometimes website owners get desperate and decide, “Deny them all, let Google sort them out.” Directories can be particularly difficult to evaluate.

Hopefully, this article is helpful for you in growing your website. Besides tips & tricks for doing internet marketing on my website, you can consult reviews of some digital products tested by us before making the decision.

See you in the next post! 

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