If youâ€™ve hired an SEO agency that doesnâ€™t follow ethical best practices then chances are black-hat SEO techniques are being used on your site. Spam links are penalised by search engines and put the reputation of your site at risk.
We recently came across a webmaster who found thousands of spam links pointing at his website. What was unusual was that he hadnâ€™t been carrying out any link building, nor had he hired an SEO agency. His website was barely even visible for his potential clients in search results. He received a message in Google Webmaster Tools stating unnatural links were pointing to his site. The only explanation was negative SEO. The culprit is likely to have been a competitor planting spam links pointing to his website.
Inbound links are important as they help achieve improvements in organic keyword ranking for your website. But using widget links, paid links, link exchanges, linking to unrelated sites and other kinds of link building that violate Googleâ€™s quality guidelines will result in your website being penalised. Each time the Google algorithm is updated many sites that previously appeared on the top of search results drop in the rankings as a consequence of the punishment for using unethical SEO tactics.
Googleâ€™s algorithm is smart enough to identify spam links. Inbound links from irrelevant sites always raise suspicion. To be on the safe side removing such back links is the best option but itâ€™s not necessarily an easy task to execute. If youâ€™ve received a message from Google about unnatural links pointing to your website then itâ€™s wise to take the initiative to remove linkspam. Removing links can be tricky for a number of reasons. Some sites charge for removing links and some directories will not take links down.
The solution Google provides is the Disavow links tool. The main advantage of this tool is that it saves a considerable amount of time. Imagine that the SEO agency you hired has built spam links in hundreds of websites. It would be a nightmare to have to email and request each webmaster remove the links in question. The Disavow links tool helps you overcome the negative effect of hundreds of spam links easily.
The tool allows you to indicate to Google which inbound links you wish to be ignored. However, it should be used with caution! If you mistakenly add a quality, natural link to the tool it may also be ignored. This only provides an indication to the crawlers, Google still retain the right to assess the link and make their own judgment on whether it should be ignored. Follow the given procedure to use the tool as effectively as possible.
First you need to download the list of links pointing to your site. To do that:
1. On your Webmaster Tools home page, select the site.
2. Go to Dashboard > Traffic > Links to Your Site.
Now you will get a file containing all pages linking to your site. Use that to create a text file of links you wish to disavow. You need to add an entry for each domain in the text file. You can add comment lines starting with â€˜#â€™. Once you have completed the text file you need to upload that to the Disavow links tool.
1. Go to the Disavow links tool page.
2. Select your website.
3. Click Disavow links.
4. Click Choose file.
Google also allows you to modify this file. To make edits you have to download the file, make your modifications, resave it and then upload again. You canâ€™t expect immediate results because the Google crawler can take several weeks to index new changes after you submit the file of links to disavow.
Remember, you should always use the tool with caution. Ensure that you have not listed any quality links. Of course the tool gives you another chance. Uou can upload the file of links to disavow again, but then the Google crawler is forced once again to re-index which will take yet more time. But if youâ€™re a victim of linkspam and are having trouble taking down all the problematic links from the web, then take a look at the Disavow links tool.