Authority and trustworthiness are becoming bigger and bigger factors in how Google ranks websites – after all, Boss G doesn’t want to put your website on the first page and then have one of its users go there just to find it’s a scam or of poor-quality!
So, even if you have perfect content and keywords, a beautiful design, and all the backend know-how, without any backlinks pointing to your website – Google doesn’t know if it can trust you, and therefore won’t send its users to you.
What Even Are Backlinks?
These can also be called ‘inbound links’ or ‘incoming links’, but whatever you call them, they are links from other websites that are pointing to your website. The more backlinks you have (from credible sources and websites), the more Google will trust you, and the higher it will rank you.
Think of backlinks as letters of recommendation for your website from other websites. More letters, more trust – more trust, better rankings!
Much like letters of recommendation though, not all backlinks are created equal. Backlinks coming from websites with poor authority themselves will not have the same weight as backlinks from trusted websites (kind of like how a letter of recommendation from your grandmother won’t be as helpful as a professor or supervisor.)
So, Why Would You Ever Disavow Backlinks?
It’s true, the analogy of backlinks to letters of recommendation falls short here. Because a backlink from a low authority website doesn’t always hurt you like a letter of recommendation from your grandmother at a job interview would. And that means that you don’t have to disavow every backlink that isn’t from a prime source.
However, some backlinks that come from highly-questionable, spammy, unknown, or unrelated industries could bring more harm than good to your search engine optimization strategy. And that means you should disavow it.
How Do You Recognize a ‘Bad’ Backlink?
Recognizing a poor backlink is not an easy task, since you have to make sure not to get rid of those that are helping you. In fact, Google says ‘no action is necessary from you for most links that are recognized as being untrustworthy.’
But, like everything with the mysterious giant, Google also recommends that you ‘disavow backlinks that you identify as spammy, artificial, or of low quality.’
So, which is it? Well, a mix. Disavow bad ones, keep good ones, and constantly judge which are which with these tips:
- The backlink isn’t relevant to your website or users
- The backlink lacks the potential to bring business to your site
- The backlink was created to manipulate Google’s algorithms
- The backlink comes from a hacked site
How to Disavow Backlinks:
This gets technical – so it may be best to have your JSL Team or web developer do this – but here are the steps just in case.
- List the pages and domains you want to disavow on a .txt file encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII (for Windows users, use Notepad and for Mac, use TextEdit)
- Type one URL per line in the following structure, depending on if you are disavowing a page or a domain:
- Disavow a given page: http://disavow.example.com/spam/comments.html
- Disavow a given domain: domain:example.com
- You can insert comments on the .txt file by typing “#” before the comment:
- #comment regarding the domain to be disavowed
- Upload your list on Google’s disavow links tool page
- Select your website, click disavow links
- Choose your file and submit it
- Please note, Google has said that it can take a couple of weeks to process the information submitted