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Disavowing Links: Should You Be Backflipping on Backlinking?

There are few SEO experts out there who would recommend disavowing or abandoning your backlinks programme. This article outlines how a mass hysteria movement to disavow is damaging ranking results for websites that have benefited from long term and diverse link building campaigns.

Not so long ago, ‘disavow’ was an outdated, seldom used term. However, since Google’s Penguin and Panda updates, it’s found favour in the expanding (and sometimes baffling) SEO vernacular. And it’s beginning to worry me…

While I’m all in favour of business owners keeping educated as to what effect Google’s algorithm updates can have on organic search traffic and, ultimately, conversion rates, understanding just half the story and charging in all guns blazing can often do more harm than good.

Keep Calm & Carry On

I’m seeing too many instances of ‘trigger happy’ link genocide, where people have panicked after hearing, or after being advised, that ‘backlinks are bad’. By disavowing and abandoning links programmes, many of these business owners are suffering an immediate and dramatic drop in website rankings – the very thing they were trying to avoid.

Let’s see what some SEO experts are saying about disavowing.

Let's see what some #SEO experts are saying about disavowing backlinks. Click To Tweet

Marie Haynes

SEO expert and author of “Unnatural Links – The Complete Guide to Recovery”, Marie Haynes, believes what people are missing in their rush to disavow indiscriminately with so-called ‘negative SEO’ is this: Google only wants to penalise spammy or criminal links.

“Manual penalties and Penguin are created to catch sites that are cheating their way to the top. I have yet to analyze a Penguin hit site or a manually penalized site that I thought was hit unfairly.”

Search Engine Land

The guys from Search Engine Land are representative of much of the expert SEO community in saying they don’t believe in disavowing unless you actually receive a notification on your Google Webmaster Tools. They say that even once you receive one of these notices, Google gives you time to make it good and if you do some digging and disavow just the offending links, you won’t be penalised.


In fact, even Google themselves say this on their Disavow Links Tool:

“This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you only disavow backlinks if you believe that there are a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you.”


And that’s the very point I want to make: if you have a diverse mix of natural links – as we painstakingly build for all our clients’ sites – then just keep calm and carry on!

Our links programmes focus on high quality, diversity and longevity – meaning the links we acquire for our clients are exclusively ‘good’. Moreover, not only do we continue to use links to power amazing ranking improvements for our clients but also to help them stay in these good positions for very long periods of time.

And we are super proud of the fact that not one of our clients has ever been penalised or affected by any Google Update – ever!

So please don’t panic. Like many other white hat optimisation experts, we too are continuing to get great rankings for our clients.

Long Live Links
Long Live SEO

Long live links. And long live #SEO. Click To Tweet

Need help with your Backlinks Programme?

If you are worried about your backlinks programme or think you have some toxic links, no need to panic. It is actually extremely rare to be penalized unless you are really criminal in your SEO, but feel free to contact me and we can analyse your links for you and let you know if we find anything that should concern you.


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