How to disavow backlinks and why?
By helloDarwin
December 17, 2018

How to Disavow Backlinks and Why?

If you're a website owner, you probably already know that backlinks are a double-edged sword: good-quality backlinks from reputable sites improve your ranking, while "artificial" or poor-quality backlinks will get you penalized by Google and drive you to the bottom of the search results rankings.

Why disavow backlinks?

First of all, backlinks are often put to good use. Links pointing to your website are generally intended to support content found on a site whose area of expertise is the same as yours. If your links are not artificial, the incoming link is directly related to your main topic or one of your main topics, and in the best case, the keywords within the content referring to your site match yours.
Unfortunately, the power associated with inbound links may not be used with the best of intentions. This is where the power of negative SEO comes in, a dishonest strategy aimed at generating low-quality links to a website in order to negatively affect its SEO.
It has to be said that for a site with an established reputation, these attempts often prove futile or without serious consequences, at most. However, if your site is new and in its infancy, it may pay the price of being downgraded.
Since search engines are against this kind of practice, they recommend that you disavow these harmful links. That's why tools like Google Search Console are available to you.
These tools enable you to carry out an audit of your link profile and identify toxic backlinks that could penalize your site in the eyes of the search engines. By creating a list of links to disavow, you have the opportunity to flag these backlinks as unsolicited or spam. This is essential, as it indicates to search engines your willingness not to be associated with these low-quality or irrelevant links, which could degrade your domain authority and, by extension, your ranking in search results.
The disavow tool thus offers a way back for sites that have been the target of spam campaigns or artificial links created with malicious intent. By disassociating your site from these harmful backlinks, you help restore trust with search engines, promoting better natural referencing. In addition, regular auditing of your link profile should be a regular part of your SEO strategy, allowing you not only to identify toxic links but also to monitor the quality and evolution of your backlink network.
In short, the disavowal process is a crucial aspect of modern SEO. It's not just about getting rid of unwanted links, but also about maintaining a digital hygiene that ensures your website's relevance and authority. Complementing this, producing quality content and obtaining backlinks from recognized sites related to your topic will strengthen your positioning and visibility on search engines. So, a well thought-out SEO strategy and proactive backlink management together form the pillar on which a website's success in the digital ecosystem rests.
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What you need to know before you start

In order to disable your links via Google Search Console, you must either have full access to the Google Search Console account, or be the owner of the site. On this point, don't forget that if your service provider can claim to own the site, they can disable inbound links at will, and not necessarily the ones you want!

How do I disavow inbound links?

To disavow your inbound links, you need to use Search Console and follow the steps below:
  1. Go to the Google Search Console home page and select your site.
  2. Go to the dashboard, click on "Search traffic" and then on "Links to your site".
  3. Now you'll see a section entitled "Who links to your site the most?" Under this, click on "More".
  4. Finally, click on "Download more link examples".
Are you missing data? If you don't seem to have them all, it may be because only one version of your website is registered in your Search Console account. In fact, both versions of your domain (i.e. http and www) need to be added to your Search Console account to ensure that all data is recorded, as Google evaluates these two entities as two separate sites.

Creating the text file

At this point, you're ready to upload a file containing all the pages that redirect to your site. Now create a text file that complies with the following standards: a .txt file extension and encoding in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII format. Next, you can indicate the links you wish to disavow. Keep in mind that the file must not exceed 2 MB in size, and must not contain more than 10,000 lines.
Do you want to disavow all links in a domain? Use the "domain:" command. Remember not to put spaces before and after colons.
To remove links from a sub-domain, select the "domain:" command and then mention the sub-domain in question.
If you wish, you can provide additional information on the links you wish to exclude, as long as each of these lines begins with "#". This sign clearly indicates that these lines will be ignored, and that they are merely a clarification of the links transmitted. Conversely, lines containing the names of sites to be excluded should not be preceded by this symbol. Please note, however, that this additional information will not be consulted by Google's link quality assessment staff.

Import the list of links to be disavowed

The next step in this process is to import a list of the links you wish to disavow. To do this, go to the "Disavow links" page. On this page, select the name of your website. Click on "Disavow links" and then on "Select a file".
Please note that your request to disavow certain backlinks will not be processed automatically. You'll have to wait for Google to re-evaluate your site, which may be several weeks from the date the changes were made. In this regard, it's worth noting that Google reserves discretionary power over your request, and may even decide not to respond if it considers the request to be unjustified.

Some important information

First of all, you should know that you can only upload one file per website, as sending more than one file will overwrite the one before it. So, if you find new links to disavow, they must all be added to the same file.
Should you wish to make any changes to your disavow file after sending it to Google, you can do so by uploading a new version of your modified file. And if you want to cancel your disavow file, you can do so by simply deleting it.
What about nofollow links? Since nofollow links have zero referencing power and can't harm you in any way, make your life easier and don't go to the trouble of listing them.
In conclusion, the process of disavowing backlinks is an indispensable precautionary measure in the world of SEO and online marketing. With the increasing sophistication of search engine algorithms, maintaining a clean, high-quality link profile has become a necessity for any site owner wishing to preserve or improve their ranking in search results. Tools such as Google Search Console offer an effective platform for auditing and disavowing toxic backlinks, helping to protect domain authority and optimize your site's SEO score.
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