Sorry to have been absent from this thread for so long....
What if I used the disavow tool in the past to point out some low quality backlinks that I thought brought no value to my website. Did this action caused any problem for my website? It did not contained any paid or sponsored links, only a couple of IPs and spammy links.
For some SEOs, it's natural to wonder whether there are links they disavowed in the past that might be getting them to #1 now.
I think this breaks down into two questions...
- 1. Did the act of disavowing in itself cause any problems with Google?
I'd answer a pretty strong "no" to this one. As I remember, Google said that no label would be put on you or on the sites you disavowed because you used the tool.
- 2. Would the links that you had once disavowed turn out now to be helpful in ranking?
Chances are also that the answer is "no", but that's less certain. If you've been noticing, easy-to-get backlinks have gotten less helpful over time. There are occasional stories of sites regaining rankings by reversing their decisions, and it's an attractive fable that can happen, especially if the original disavow decisions were really stupid.
Hope springs eternal, doesn't it? ;) What if?... what if?... and that's particularly true if you weren't quite sure about what you were doing with disavow in the past, and maybe still aren't really sure now.
This uncertainty isn't just about what really is a good link. It's also, I'm guessing, about what you can get away with. This latter, I think, is a really bad way to look at it. And that brings us to this question...
Should I reverse the action by deleting the disavow file?
IMO, no. If you think you see competitors ranking via links that are worse than those, that's based on rank-envy, and on a limited view only.
What is the worst scenario that can happen if I delete the disavow file?
Conjecture only.... Google might see your action, or subsequent actions, as an attmept at manipulation... that you might be trying to evaluate these links by changing the disavow and seeing what happens, and at that point they'll start looking at a larger picture.
Depending on how Google reacts after you disavow, and how you react to how Google reacts, you could end up playing a game of chess with Google, in which Google will most likely win. Essentially, if you see any change, you won't be sure about what cause it, your reversal of the disavow, or Google trying to test your intentions.
See this discussion here from 2012, an oldie but goodie, about a Google patent that I'm pretty certain I've seen in action> It's designed to prevent reverse engineering of what Google considers spam. If you do something perhaps spammy that might affect your ranking, don't fiddle with it once you see the results. Google's Rank Modifying Patent for Spam Detection Aug 18, 2012 https://www.webmasterworld.com/google/4486158.htm
It's hard to say whether Google has been applying this patent to reversing disavow actions. I'm sure that SEOs change their disavow decisions all the time. The uncertainty though, is how Google reacts to what the SEO's change, and then how the SEO responds to Google's reaction.
What would you do, eg, if you deleted your disavow file and Google soon after dropped your rankings?
PS: Edited to clarify.