How to recognize bad SEO links?

how to recognize bad SEO links and disavow them

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News! Google Penguin is officially part of the main search algorithm. We've been waiting for this Penguin update for almost 2 years.

In this article, I will talk about disavowing bad or unnatural links. This is to keep your site's reputation clean.

How can you avoid being blocked by Google.

How to recognize bad links and disavow them?

Not every link is helpful. Some SEO links can be very harmful to your site, linking you to a spam URL that has nothing to do with your content.

The search engine sees this as a bad link building practice and is ready to punish for it. To prevent this from happening, you must find a way to recognize and disavow bad SEO. links.

The first thing a person can do is contact the webmaster of the site and ask him to remove the problematic link from one of his posts.

Luckily for us, Google provided us with another option. By ditching links that the search engine doesn't want to see, we can fix this problem.

What is Disavow File and Disavow Tool?

You are probably now wondering what disavuation is and how to use it.

Disavow file is a type of document that google instructions. This is a way to notify the search engine which links we would like to ignore by putting them on a disconnect list.

The Disavow file should contain a list of root domains or exact links to your site. I recommend using root domains. If you disavow the domain as a whole, you avoid future spam links from that site.

In the case of manual disavowal, it's a good idea to add a description of your previous attempts to remove problem links. You can mention your previous communication with the webmaster, which will show Google your determination to solve the problem.

After creating the file, it must be loaded into the disavow tool. This allows Google to access your file.

One potential problem is removing links that are really useful to us. How to tell good links from bad ones? I'll tell you a little.

What are the top 3 reasons to disavow links?

As I mentioned earlier, the disavow tool is a great way to get rid of all the toxic backlinks that pose a potential threat to your site. However, we must be very careful with this.

Unlinking is something you should be doing according to your current need. Depending on the number of spam links you receive, you should be more or less active.

At one time, you could have been attacked by any SEO expert in a black hat, pointing out a lot of bad links to your site. Google sees this as a method of generating spam links. Although it is not your fault, you will still be punished.

As a way to prevent negative SEO, Google invented this tool. You can now remove anything that looks suspicious. Here are three situations in which you should use disavowal:

  1. Manual fine is one of the most damaging things that can happen to your website. This can have a huge negative impact on your traffic.
  2. The algorithmic penalty is much easier to handle and softer than the manual penalty.
  3. Excessive number of spam links. Sometimes other webmasters and SEO experts launch a negative campaign against your website.

To protect yourself, you will have to use a disavowal tool to clear some of the links pointing to your site.

The main use of the disavow tool is to remove any type of penalty that has occurred due to a bad link profile. A great way to prevent punishment.

By using it, you can eliminate any suspicious activity.

Here are some important things you should know about the disavow file:

  1. The Disavow file is 2MB in size.
  2. There is no need to disavow nofollow links as they do not pass links.
  3. All disabled links can be seen in Webmaster Tools.
  4. The commands placed in the disavow file are not readable by the google team.
  5. You can modify your disavow file by adding additional links, domains, or removing link domains from the list.

A few words about manual penalties.

Let's face it. Most of you have probably started disavowing links due to the manual penalty received in the Google Search Console. Nothing to be ashamed of, given that even the most successful websites used shady methods just a few years ago.

Even if you did everything right at first glance, it is possible that some of Google's terms and conditions are missing. Most webmasters know what manual punishment is. For those who don't know about this, let's briefly describe it.

Manual punishment is imposed directly by Google as a way to punish spam.

Keep in mind that this has nothing to do with algorithmic changes. Google usually penalizes the site as a whole by removing it. You can be punished for many things, including: various types of spam, content manipulation, unnatural links, obfuscation, redirects, etc.

From time to time, a competitor may link to a site just to get you fined. But, in the case of a manual fine, the procedure is more complicated.

Not only should you disavow unnatural links if that was the main reason for the fine, but you should also submit a revision request.

This request is made to notify Google that you have made the necessary changes and adapted your site in accordance with the Google Webmaster Guidelines. If they think the changes are good enough, the penalty will be canceled.

Here are some tips to help you write your revision request:

  1. Admitting responsibility is just honest, Google knows what you did wrong.
  2. List all violations and how you fixed them.
  3. What steps have you taken to prevent any future problems? (this is optional, but may help).
  4. Show that you are ready to continue using Google Webmaster Guidelines (again optional).

Disavows of using the disavow tool.

There are some problems with disavowing links, as well as the disavowing tool in general.

First of all, disavowing links can remove some good links that are potentially useful to your site. This is especially common in the case of a fine.

As a way to appease Google, website owners are willing to completely clear their link profile. This will often backfire.

You have to be very selective when choosing which links you want to keep and which ones you want to disavow. To do this, you need to have at least some basic SEO knowledge. Otherwise, it will lead to disaster.

Another problem with the disavowing tool. He sends negative feedback regarding a particular site. Debatable, but you have to keep this in mind.

For example, let's say someone decided to disavow all links from your site. It's okay if this is the only case. However, if many webmasters choose to do this, it can be a negative signal for your content and the links you give to people.

Finally, all these downloaded disavow files are information. Imagine if someone tapped into this vast source?

As you can see, there are quite a few problems with this tool and the information we put in it. Be careful!

Prepare an audit profile of your link and the tools you should use.

You have all the information regarding the disavow tool, the disavow file and why you should use them. But you still need to distinguish between bad links and good links. To do this, we need to conduct a thorough audit of the link profile.

First of all, you should extract all the link information using one of the best SEO tools on the market.

One of these tools can help you find toxic backlinks:

  • Link Research Tools,
  • Ahrefs,
  • Google Webmaster Tools and more

Google Webmaster Tools are usually sufficient in the case of a manual penalty. However, if you check your links on an ongoing basis, you can also opt for one of the best tools on the market.

Once you receive the data, you must extract it into an Excel spreadsheet. You need to have all the information right in front of you before you can start analyzing.

Rule of thumb: if you have multiple links from the same website, reduce them to one or two. You need to do some quick checks and decide which ones are good for your site and which ones you should disavow. It doesn't make sense to check tons of different links on the same domain.

Use one column for domain names and one column for links from that domain. You can also create a third column in which you have to specify whether to keep or remove the link.

If you want to do it a little faster, you can simply remove all the good links and leave the ones that should be disavowed. This will help you create the disavow file a little faster. It should be pretty simple.

Performing an audit of links.

When auditing links, you should ask yourself, "Does this link make sense?"

You always start by checking the domain itself. If your site is all about gardening, it’s extremely unnatural for you to get a link from a car tire company.

Keep in mind that you don't have to get a backlink from the same niche, but there must be some kind of linkage between the sites.

Why would someone link to you if it is not related to their content? The same is true for the country. Reputable sites receive links from all over the world. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that a domain with a foreign extension or a website written in a foreign language links to your article. However, you need to approach this with caution.

Also, check their pages. Visit a couple of their pages. Make sure they are writing about the same topic and that there is enough quality content on their site. If there is anything fishy about this, it is much better to put the domain in a disavow file than risk getting a bad link.

If everything looks fine with the domain, you can start with the second step of the process - evaluating the link itself.

How to evaluate the quality of a link?

There are several things to check:

  1. The page itself. Does the content look like a quality, informative article? If so, please save the link.
  2. Links next door. Are there other links on the page that look like spam? If so, discard the link.
  3. Use of the link. Does it make sense to link to a page with your page? If so, leave her.
  4. Anchor text. Is anchor text appropriate for your linked page? If so, leave it alone.

In terms of specific types of links, some of them have become infamous over time. Here's what you should look out for:

  1. Links to the catalog of websites. In the past, website directories were very popular. They were used to enable people to find your site on the Internet. At the same time, you may have received some links from them. Over time, people started making link building campaigns using these directories. Unfortunately, most of these websites were of poor quality, and this strategy was soon seen as spammy. If the link is not from one of the largest directories, it is better to disavow it.
  2. Article directories. Such directories are similar to website directories. The main difference is that they are used to publish articles, not just links. Given that Google hates article directories, regardless of their quality, it might be best not to get any links from them.
  3. PBN connections. Private Blogging Networks or PBNs have been and continue to be quite popular. They are a network of websites mostly owned by the same person. Their sole purpose is to link to other websites and improve their rankings. PBNs are usually created based on expired domains with good SEO stats.
  4. Spam .info. Unlike .com domains, .info gTLDs are much cheaper. Registration of such a website is several times more profitable. This means that you can build many websites for a low cost and get links to them. Professional organizations always prefer the .com, .net or .org Domain, so it is best to avoid .info links.
  5. Automatic spam. He is part of a negative campaign. This is where the spambot program will start using link building and direct them to your site. This spam can be easily detected and canceled.

It is quite normal to have some kind of strange looking links or links that at first glance seem unrelated. However, there are some that are completely irrelevant and do not make any sense. These links are giving us trouble.

If you have any doubts and are not sure what to do, check the SEO statistics of the domain and its content. If the link comes from a medium to large site, it might not be so bad to keep it. Instead, make a compromise and eliminate suspicious links coming from suspicious domains.

When some Google web spam engineers see the link come from a reputable website, they will be more lenient, thinking there is a reason for that link. Large sites will never jeopardize their reputation by linking to substandard sites.

How do I create a disavow file?

If you did everything correctly, you should have a list of toxic domains (links) that should be disavowed.

According to Google, you need to use txt.file in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII format. Place all problem domains in txt.file and save it.

There are two important details to keep in mind:

  • If you add comments, you need to add the hashtag # in front of it
  • If you want to disavow a link at the domain level, you need to use the "domain:" function.

Once your file is ready, you send the trip file.

I'll walk you through the process step by step:

  • Sign in to Google Webmaster Tools and look for the "Disable Links" section. You will see the following screen:
google webmaster tools
  •  Select the site for which you are disavowing links (in my case, this is my own blog):
select a site in google for webmasters
  •  Click "Disable Links", before that read the Google warning:
google webmaster tools
  •  4. Click Select File. You will see data about your previous view, if any.
  • 5. Upload the .txt file and click Submit.

And you're done!

Caution reminders.

Every time you want to add more links, the file must be changed. Always keep the previous version of the disavow file and just add additional links to it! Don't just replace it with new links, otherwise the deleted ones may be indexed again.

Therefore, disable backlinks on domains only if you choose to keep those previously disabled links.

After you submit your file, you must be patient. It usually takes 4-6 weeks to process a disavow file. Once this happens, you will notice that Google will gradually de-index the ignored links that you can spot using tools like Ahrefs, LinkResearchTools, or Moz.


Every website owner should learn how to use the Google Disavow tool. Sooner or later, you will receive spam or unnatural links that you will have to eliminate. Even if you haven't been penalized, this nifty tool can be a great way to clean up your link profile.

Remember to only disable links that are highly suspicious and could lead to SEO issues. Google recommends caution and conservatism when disavowing links.

How often do you use the Google Disavow Tool? Do you find it easy to use?


☆ Where is the disavow file sent to?

To the Google Disclaimer page.

✓ Why do link audits?

To spot bad links that will ruin a site's reputation.

☆ What are the disadvantages of using the disavow tool?

Useful links may be removed.

☆ How to tell if a link is bad?

If your links come from unrelated sites or pages, they will be considered bad.

☆ How do I know if my SEO is negative?

Using a link analysis tool, take a look at these points to determine if negative SEO has hit you.
Organic keywords.
New backlinks and new domains and referencing IP addresses.
Lost Backlinks and Lost Domains.
Broken backlinks.
Outbound linked domains and outbound broken links.

✓ How to identify a spam link?

Spammy links, also known as low quality backlinks, are links that lead to your domain from spam or poor authority sites. They can be easily identified by a spike in traffic to your domain, often from countries outside of your primary audience.

✓ How do you know if you have toxic backlinks?

What is Toxic Backlink Checker? The Toxic Backlink Checker tool allows users to validate metric information at the domain and page level for a specific URL and spot any toxic or low quality links in their own backlink profile. You can also view link details for each domain.

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