Welcome to WebmasterWorld Guest from 100.26.176.182

Forum Moderators: Robert Charlton & goodroi

Disavow tool...: when and how to use it?

     
8:54 am on Aug 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Jan 10, 2018
posts: 25
votes: 0


Hello, I have a couple of questions regarding the disavow tool?

I analyzed my backlinks profile with a couple of tools and found some really suspicious links coming from spammy or low quality websites. They were acquired over a long period and I have not paid for them or do any kind of back linking technique to get them. They have probably linked to my website naturally or maybe some of my competitors hit me with some negative seo, I don't know...

I found about 700 of such sites which I have gathered in a list that I want to disavow. None of those links appear in my GSC report about incoming backlinks. Now, starting from the sentence below stated by John Mueller, would it be a problem if I disavow those links?:

“Random links collected over the years aren’t necessarily harmful, we’ve seen them for a long time too and can ignore all of those weird pieces of web-graffiti from long ago. Disavow links that were really paid for (or otherwise actively unnaturally placed), don’t fret the cruft.”

If I do decide to disavow the links and discover some losses in terms of ranking after this action, is there a way to reverse the consequences? Do these links hurt my website in any way if they do not appear in GSC? Does Google know better to ignore those type of links or I need to put them in the disavow file?

I am really interested in seeing other SEO's experience with the disavow tool.

Thanks in advance!
10:51 am on Aug 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

Moderator This Forum from US 

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

joined:Nov 11, 2000
posts:12419
votes: 421


For a while, I'd thought it was no longer necessary to use the disavow tool, and it's been a long, long time since I've even thought about it... but from very recent discussion I'm seeing online from several SEOs I respect, I've changed my mind. Apparently, there are situations of obvious paid linking where disavow will be needed to clean it up.

In cases where the site in question has bought the links, discussion I'm seeing suggests that success still generally requires doing some pre-request cleanup (ie, actually getting those links removed, which can be extremely difficult... or presenting clear evidence that you've made good efforts to do so). Keep good records.

Google's approach to obviously purchased links, I gather, still appears to be punitive. They want the punishment to be severe enough that you'll never try it again.

That said, if you see backlinks that you haven't bought... even though John Mueller suggests that it's safe to ignore those, I'm still conflicted about doing so. I think I'd rather err on the safe side and disavow them if I were experiencing traffic problems. I'd love to get other thoughts on this.

Additionally, if there's any suggestion that you may be getting set up for a hacker attack... eg, via coordinated links, perhaps from hacked sites, or from sites that have scraped your content, etc.. I would skip disavow and contact the Google webspam team immediately. In conjunction with this, if many backlinks are pointing to the same targets on your site, perhaps to pages that you didn't put there, then view your site as Googlebot to whether you've been hacked yourself and are being set up as a target or rely site for a hijacking or spam attack.

1:02 pm on Aug 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

New User

joined:Jan 10, 2018
posts: 25
votes: 0


@robertcharlton Thanks for your response. What's your thoughts on this:

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.

Should I reverse the action by deleting the disavow file? What is the worst scenario that can happen if I delete the disavow file? :)

Thanks again for your help
2:26 pm on Aug 28, 2019 (gmt 0)

Senior Member from US 

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

joined:Nov 29, 2005
posts:10687
votes: 1147


Reading through other posts on WW re: disavow tool the results have been all over the place, and mostly marginal at best. Personally never used it. I didn't make or request and of these "bad links" and it is not my job to nuke 'em. Never lost any sleep over this. Than again, I'm not getting fabulously wealthy so maybe I made a mistake? :)

YMMV

.
9:42 am on Sept 7, 2019 (gmt 0)

Moderator This Forum from US 

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

joined:Nov 11, 2000
posts:12419
votes: 421


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 [webmasterworld.com]

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.

 

Join The Conversation

Moderators and Top Contributors

Hot Threads This Week

Featured Threads

Free SEO Tools

Hire Expert Members