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To disavow or not to disavow?

2:03 pm on Apr 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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votes: 2

When Google's disavow tool first came out, Google's direction was that we should only disavow bad links that we were responsible for. At that time, Penguin seemed pretty binary - you were hit or you weren't.

We have been repeatedly assured that there is no such thing as Negative SEO.

Now Matt Cutts has commented that a particular site has a "mild case of Penguin", and he advised the owner to "continue cleaning backlinks".

I'm getting a little worried here because I get a tremendous amount of bogus links to my site. Most of them are from Chinese sites, and I can only see them because they very often link to bad pages, causing 404-errors in Google WMT.

Another category of bogus links are sites that copy Wikipedia. My site is heavily referenced in Wikipedia, and there are a ton of sites that just scrape Wikipedia and reproduce the content.

When I do a "download latest links" report from WMT, and pick just a single day, I got 2,190 backlinks. Of those, at least 1,700 are from Wiki scrapers (most of them are from Poland). That's 78% bogus links.

I am not responsible for any of these links - I don't do or use SEO, I don't exchange links with anyone, my site has been around for 15 years and I don't need any boost that this kind of link trade brings.

But I'm worried because I'm seeing such a high volume of bad links, day after day, and I'm seeing a lot of new Chinese links which are not Wiki-based, but are very spammy (they seem to link to Chinese #*$! sites).

Which direction should I go? I don't think I'm currently being hit by Penguin, but if you can have a "mild case" of it, then that may change things. On the other hand, I would hate to spend my energy on disavowing a ridiculous amount of bogus backlinks which accumulate on the scale of tens of thousands per week.
9:15 pm on Apr 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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I work with a site that is in a similar situation as you - they attract a LOT of link spam, around 50 - 100k links every day. This is all pure spam of the worst kind: free hosts, forum spam, hacked sites, comment spam, etc... basically every black hat technique under the sun is used.

The site was hit by penguin 1.0 and we still suspect we have a minor penguin penalty as we saw a very weird traffic wobble with one of the later penguin updates.

Our strategy is pretty standard: Focus on identifying the largest sources of spam to disavow and reviewing on a monthly basis. We only disavow at the domain level. We are now at a point where we are considering disavowing top level domains such as .pl and .tk

Tools really help, we have used:
Link detox - $$ but good tool
Jim Boykin's free penguin tool, available here on webmaster world (google for it)

I agree with you, this is a ridiculous waste of time and energy.
10:03 pm on Apr 8, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member whitey is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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votes: 27

Just as we now know there are degrees of Penguin, [ and for the matter likely degrees of Panda ], there are also likely degrees of websites.

If your website is low value low authority, then I think the chances are greater of being hit if a pattern of links is seen as manipulative. Such footprints would be thing like excessive money terms, deliberate matching of referring anchor text to page targets on an industrial scale.

To operate in good conscience, I believe the WebSpam team had to create the disavow tool to give back the initiative of webmasters to take back a degree of control over what pointed to their sites, since the Penguin update would otherwise have consumed a lot of folks with false positives.

You can tell by Matt Cutt's presentations over many years, he and the team absolutely detested the distortion of the results by link manipulative practices, and by simple virtue of running recently described Google search result tests without any link influence, shows their minds are going in the direction of further removing their influence as soon as technical solutions can be applied.

In the huge industry I watch there is very little link influence any longer. It's simply brand and manual editing reviews that would appear to be in play. All other sites are in the bin. It was wholesale slaughter and wholesale promotion of brands.

Honestly, if the site has good authority, some house keeping may be good practice. But I bet there's a ton of good sites out there with spam link profiles sent by out of control referrers that are largely unaffected.
8:36 am on Apr 22, 2014 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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votes: 327

Jim Boykin's free penguin tool, available here on webmaster world (google for it)

aquanaut - Thanks for observing our posting guidelines (since you are a new member who doesn't yet have linking privileges). That said, there's no need to google for it. It's really one of our tools, and here's where the tools are located on WebmasterWorld....

Check our free tools link [freetools.webmasterworld.com...] at the top of each WebmasterWorld page in the left hand corner.

There's a link to the backlink checker tool in the top left of the tool list...

Google Backlink Checker Tool for Penguin & Disavow Analysis
http://backlinks.webmasterworld.com/google-backlink-tool-penguin-disavow/ [backlinks.webmasterworld.com]

Definitely view Jim's videos about using the Backlink Checker Tool lower down on the page before checking your links. It is the best tutorial I've seen regarding which links to disavow. Jim's other links on that page are worth exploring as well.

PS: Edited the above to clarify location of the free tools link on WebmasterWorld.
6:34 am on Apr 23, 2014 (gmt 0)

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joined:Apr 23, 2014
posts: 12
votes: 0

Disavowing spammy links is the different thing but how we can protect our websites from other spammy search engine bots? This is more important to understand first. There has tons of search engine bots that are responsible to deliver bogus links for our websites. I totally agree with you, we can not Disavow a thousand of URL’s even may be Millions of URL’s on a daily basis so it is always a better idea to preserve your site from other spamming search engine bots.

We can protect our websites from spammer bots by 2 ways: the 1st way is to use .htaccess file and the 2nd way is to use robots.txt file. You have no more option to keep your website free from Spammer Search Engine Bots.

Find the list of Spammer Bots:


This is only a small amount – We can not count how many Spam Bots are exists in the entire internet world. Always protect your site from Chinese Bots they are very harmful and Russian Bots are equally bad for our site.

[edited by: Robert_Charlton at 11:12 pm (utc) on Apr 29, 2014]