What Does It Mean to Disavow a Link
By Michael Benninger
Does your website have unwanted inbound links from less-than-reputable sources? If so, these connections to your site could be harming your SEO in more ways than one. Fortunately, you can disavow those damaging links and enjoy all of the traffic your site deserves. But what does “disavow” mean, and how can it help your site? Here’s an overview of what you need to know.
What Does It Mean to Disavow a Link?
If you crack open a traditional dictionary or visit any of the online alternatives and look up the word “disavow”, definitions will largely be along the lines of denying involvement or responsibility for something in particular. Armed with that knowledge, it’s not too hard to figure out disavow’s meaning with regard to undesirable links. To disavow a link means to tell search engines—namely Google—not to include the referrer’s connection to your site as a factor when determining your site’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). Makes sense, right? But what’s the best way of going about disavowing a dangerous link?
How to Disavow Bad Links
Once you’ve identified an unwanted link, the first thing you should do is attempt to contact the offending site’s webmaster and ask for the link to be removed. Depending upon who is running the site with the link, this could be a fruitless effort. If that’s true in your case, the next best thing you can do is use Google’s Disavow Links tool to request that the search giant exclude the offensive link when calculating your site’s position in search. One thing to keep in mind about this tool, though, is you’re simply asking for Google to devalue the link, but the company is under no obligation to actually do so.
Getting Started with Google’s Disavow Tool
Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is an extensive suite of utilities for website owners. After setting up an account on the console, it’s easy download a list of all links to your site, then examine it for hyperlinks that could cause you headaches. After compiling a collection of links you want removed, you can send that file to Google by using their Disavow Links tool. Any changes Google decides to make won’t be instantly apparent, but after a week or so, you may start to see a difference in your site’s rank.
Manual Actions and Reconsideration Requests
Sometimes after setting up an account on Google Search Console, you might receive a Manual Action alert instructing you to make some mandatory changes to your SEO in order to remain listed in Google Search. In these cases, Google will offer some guidance as to next steps. And once you’ve completed those actions, it’s advised that you submit a Reconsideration Request to Google, so that the search engine can crawl the most recent version of your website and give it a new ranking based on current factors.
Now that you understand the ins and outs of disavowing, take some time to find out if your website has unwanted links. Looking to learn even more? Explore our growing library of articles for webmasters.