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    Should You Disavow Unhelpful Backlinks?

    Weak Link 28, Sep 2021
    Craig Upton
    SEO

    There has been much chatter over recent months as to whether or not it is a good idea to disavow backlinks; when conducting a backlink audit, you will inevitably come across links to your pages that are questionable at best.

    The most sensible thing to do is to get rid of them, but as it is not always possible to remove the offending backlinks you may be tempted to use the disavow tool.

    Available via the Google Search Console, the disavow tool lets you create a list of backlinks for Google to exclude from your SEO profile.

    What is interesting is how prior to accessing the tool; Google presents a strong and stark warning about its potential impact.

    This is interesting given how Google takes such a firm stance against low-quality backlinks. 

    Under what circumstances should you use the disavow tool to exclude links to your pages from consideration? If there are links that are clearly providing you with little value, is it not better to remove them entirely?

    When You Should Use the Disavow Tool

    The only time you should consider using the disavow tools is when you are absolutely certain you are looking at dangerous spam links.

    For example, if you have participated in any shady link schemes or paid for links to your site, they could be causing you harm. Likewise, if someone has done so on your behalf, the same applies.

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    You could also have fallen victim to a negative SEO attack, resulting in lots of spam links pointing your way.

    If any of this applies, removing the links from consideration that could be damaging your SEO profile is sensible; though as none of this is likely to apply for most, the general advice is to approach the disavowal tool with extreme caution.

    When You Should Not Use the Disavow Tool

    Google expressly advises against disavowing backlinks on the basis of anything but the exceptions above. Unless it is formally confirmed that the links are harming your SEO performance, keep them in place.

    The vast majority of automated tools used to spot ‘harmful’ backlinks are inaccurate and unreliable. Utilised as part of a backlink audit, they can provide highly misleading reports of supposed spam links.

    Long story short, never take the indications and advice of tools like these for granted. Always conduct a manual assessment of the link and the source site in question in order to reach your own informed conclusion.

    Requesting Removal of Backlinks

    In the event that you do come across links that could do with being removed, Google’s advice is to first contact the source site directly. Submit a request for the link to be taken down and there is every chance they will comply.

    It is only when this manual approach to link removal fails that the disavowed tool should be used.

    The fact that Google itself says the disavow tool should be used only with extreme caution says all that needs to be said about the risks involved.

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