Every website will accumulate a list of shady, unnatural and low-quality links, either gradually over a period of time, or suddenly overnight. Most often, these toxic links are generated by bots or directory sites’ scrapers. However, many webmasters in the pre-Google Penguin era have been known to purchase cheap links as part of their overall SEO strategy. Inexperienced firms peddling SEO services are also guilty of this at times. As a result, it is not uncommon to see perfectly respectable websites with backlinks originating from male enhancement products or controlled-drugs domains.
We know now that the presence of unhealthy links originating from weak or spammy domains can negatively affect your website’s search engine optimisation. In fact, Google has specifically noted that unnatural links can diminish the authority of websites, leading to the devaluation of their search rank. This development has also created the possibility of malicious link-bombing campaigns by competitors or blackmailers.
You do not want backlinks from websites like this. Use the Disavow Tool to get rid of spammy backlinks. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Google Disavow Tool
At times, websites that run afoul of Google’s quality guidelines will be served with manual penalties. As bad as that sounds, manual penalty notifications are actually a good thing. Google does not immediately penalised websites served with manual webspam penalties and usually give webmasters time to rectify the situation. The far damaging occurrence is when your website receives a silent algorithmic penalty that will see its search engine ranking position fall into oblivion, out of the first 1,000 pages of search queries.
In both instances, Google’s Disavow Tool will be your best bet to rectify the situation. Instead of individually emailing websites to seek their assistance in removing offending backlinks, you can just renounce said links from being factored into Google’s ranking algorithm using the Disavow Tool. Remember, the Disavow Tool can be used pre-emptively to deal with emerging quality issues.
How To Use Google’s Disavow Tool
Go to Google Search Console and download all the links pointing to your site. Analyse the spreadsheet carefully and delete all backlinks you are comfortable with; you will be left with only the damaging, unnatural links. If you feel the need to disavow the entire domain instead of just a single page, add the operator “domain:”, as in “domain:damaginglinks.com”.
Copy the remaining backlinks into a text file. Please ensure that the file is encoded in either UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII format. Return to the Search Console and click on the Disavow Tool. Upload your text file. Save a local copy for future amendments. The disavow process is a gradual one, so you might not see an immediate result. Restoration of your site’s ranking might take days, weeks or even months.