Link Disavowal: what is it, when and how to do it?

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The quality of the links pointing to your website plays a crucial role in your search engine rankings.

However, not all links are beneficial, as there are some that can even harm your online visibility. In this context, link disavowal emerges as a strategic tool to maintain the health of your link profile.

To perform this task with more bases, it is ideal that you know what is link disavowal, when you should consider it and how to carry out this process, although if it is not your thing, you always have the option to hire outreach and link building agencies to do this for you, in addition to helping you with the creation of excellent quality backlinks.

What is link disavowal?

Link disavowal is a procedure by which a website owner requests search engines to ignore certain inbound links.

This is done through the submission of a file called a “link disavow file”, which contains a list of links that the site owner wishes to be excluded from evaluation by search engines.

The intention of this is that these poor quality, harmful or toxic links do not continue to detract from the project that is being carried out from the website in question.

When should you disavow a backlink?

Deciding to disavow a link is not a trivial task and must be done carefully, because if you do it wrong, you may be removing links that are actually useful to you. Here are some key factors that might indicate it’s time to disavow a backlink:

  • Toxic links. If you discover links coming from sites with dubious reputation, spam content or fraudulent activities, it is advisable to consider disavowing them as soon as possible, because this is clearly going to make a mess.
  • Google penalties. If your site has been penalized by Google and you suspect that low quality links may be the cause, disavowal could be a preventive measure that may be useful for you to move up in the results.
  • Falling in traffic. A significant decrease in organic traffic could be linked to the presence of harmful links. Perform a detailed analysis to identify potential candidates for deauthorization.
  • Changes in the algorithm. In the face of major algorithm updates, some previously beneficial links may become detrimental. Stay informed about changes and adjust your link strategy accordingly.
  • Malicious competition. If you suspect that a competitor is creating low quality links to your site with the goal of harming you, disavowal may be a necessary response to stop them from accomplishing their goal.

How is this process executed?

Deauthorizing links involves following a series of steps to ensure effective execution. Here we leave you a basic guide in case you want to do it yourself, because as we said at the beginning, you can also count on experts to do it:

  • Link identification. Use tools such as Google Search Console, Moz or Ahrefs to identify potentially harmful links, and once you have detected the ones you think you have, take a good look at them for as long as it takes.
  • Creation of the deauthorization file. The next thing to do is simply create a properly formatted text file containing the links you wish to disavow, be it one, tens or even hundreds of them.
  • File upload. Log in to your Google Search Console account, select your property and go to “Link Settings”. Upload the deauthorization file to start the deauthorization process for good.
  • Continuous monitoring. After disavowing links, regularly monitor your link profile to ensure that no new problems arise, especially if you are in the middle of a competitor attack.

It is clear then that link disavowal is an essential practice in proactive SEO management. With a strategic and careful approach, you can maintain a healthy link profile and strengthen your website’s position in search engines.