Links remain as key elements to any SEO campaign, as it remains as a viable avenue for driving traffic that helps establish your online presence. While there are doubts as to whether or not link building is still effective in the current SEO landscape, it is still an effective strategy that would help improve your search rankings.
This makes link auditing an important procedure that must be done on a regular basis to ensure that your links are working, encounter drops in rankings, or if there are spammy and harmful links present. Another important action that SEOs perform is disavowing links. This is an important step, as this can impact your rankings positively or negatively depending on your action.
Links are an important indicator of website quality, which is why link auditing and disavowing links are steps that must be taken with caution and scrutiny. Here are some steps that would help you determine the best time to disavow links, along with some steps that would help you organize and check your links.
Identify the purpose
Before disavowing links, the first two questions you need to ask is why do you need to disavow links, and when is the right time to do so. Being able to answer these questions would allow you to determine whether or not it is the right set of steps to take. To help you make this decision, it is best to start by using link auditing tools like Ahrefs, which allows you to see how well your links are performing.
Ahrefs allows you to see your website’s backlinks, along with their performance, which indicates their impact on your search rankings. You can also see new links that have been gained or ones that you have lost.
The next step during your link audit is identifying what types of links are on your website. It is best to set up a list which has specific criteria of what types of links are accepted on your website and filter them down gradually. For example, the first links that would be easy to identify are the ones that are related to your website’s service, which are crucial in your traffic and search rankings. The next set of links could be related to social media profiles, personal websites, guest authors, and other links related to your social network, which is also crucial in traffic and even providing authoritative content.
After filtering a number of these categories, you might be able to already see some of the links that do not belong to your website. This can be ones that are not related to your service, or even ones that look spammy in nature. This is perhaps the most important part of your process, as it is up to you and your team’s discretion on the links that would be considered as harmful or unrelated, and that can make or break your search traffic by a significant margin. Along with the examples provided above, there are other types of links that should be of concern upon checking on your link audit.
- The link does not pass the eye test – This might be up to your discretion, but most spammy and unreliable links have a certain pattern that can be identified after encountering them repeatedly, especially if they come from the same source.
- Links from other countries – Most businesses have clientele from specific parts of the world, which means you should be familiar where your links should come from. If your website contains links from countries that are not covered by your services, take a closer look.
- Suspicious anchor text – There are times that you might see same links from the same anchor text repeatedly. This can be another place to check for spammy links, as these are places where they occur frequently.
Should you really use it?
Of course, the most important question about disavowing links is do you really need to do it? This is where it can get contentious, as disavowing links is a process that would mean requesting Google to block a link, which means undoing it might be more trouble than its all worth. Google’s stance on disavowing can at times be vague and confusing, as they state that it can help, but leave it at just that.
With spammy links being devalued by Google, there are times that disavowing the link might not be the first course of action to take. However, another statement from Google’s John Mueller might have helped put a good number of concerns at ease by stating that disavowing links can help Google’s algorithms determine that your website has good link quality, which can surely help your search rankings.
Overall, the disavow tool is a very effective and powerful Google tool when used right. However, finding the right time to use it is even more important, as it would be very difficult to undo once you have disavowed a link, whether spammy or not. Despite this, disavowing links can benefit your traffic significantly, and boost the quality of your website’s links and content.
Disavowing links is an impactful action that should never be taken lightly, and must be done only in the right circumstances and with the intention of keeping your website safe from anything that can harm your traffic and rankings. Links remain a constant SEO factor this 2019, and should you encounter the need to disallow a link, it is best to proceed with caution.
If you have questions about link building or SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.