Tips/Assistance with Disavowing

becool

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#1
Hello, again,

I have a site that I am trying to keep long-term and, for that reason, among others, disavowing links has been on my mind as of late, although I have not disavowed anything thus far. Today, while perusing the site’s backlink profile, I happened upon two “guest blog” posts, one of which ranks for “[insert celebrity] sexy pictures”. Can someone please chime in on my understanding of the potential list/breadth of things I should look at in considering/determining whether to disavow a link, Please? Here’s what comes to mind:

1. If the link has questionable/spammy backlinks that consist of garbage (mass nonsense links like profiles and/or an unnatural link profile that ramps up artificially), it’s bad.
2. If the link's domain has poor contextual relevance, illegible or spun text, it’s bad.
3. If the link's domain has no traffic, doesn’t otherwise rank for anything and appears as though it’s a guest blog that’s just selling links, it’s bad. (I'm not referring to Web 2.0s or business profiles).
4. If the link’s domain ranks for objectionable terms (e.g. pharma, adult, Viagra, gambling, sexy pictures), it’s bad.
5. If the link has a low DR and/or UR, it could be bad, particularly considering the above, but not necessarily by itself. Same with trust flow and Moz's spam score. (I treat these as helpful metrics to look at but not gospel.)
6. If the link’s domain or the link is riddled with ads, it could be bad (especially if the ads are for objectionable products/services).
7. If the link’s domain and/or page link out to bad objectionable sites, it’s bad (e.g. the type of sites referenced in no. 4 above).

A couple of additional questions:

A. Am I on the right track?
B. What factors/considerations am I missing?
C. How quickly should I go about disavowing objectionable links? No penalty (that I am aware of) has been rendered and the vast majority of backlinks to my site are not bad.
D. If the vast majority of my backlink profile is composed of non-objectionable links, with a couple of bad apples, does that (i) lessen the immediate urgency with respect to the need to disavow or (ii) buy me some goodwill with Google?
E. I happened upon a (likely false) guru who provides people with a service whereby she or her team will analyze a site’s backlink profile and provide a proposed disavow list. Are there any BuSo members/vendors who provide this type of consultancy that any of you would recommend?

Thanks for your continued insight and patience.
 
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#2
IMO you're over-complicating things.

It just looks like you're looking to value 'questionable' links. You'd probably never think twice if you reversed the thought process and thought about building a link on that site.

Also don't waste brain energy on 'should I disavow now or not' - just set a regular schedule (monthly, bi-monthly) and stick to it.
 

Ryuzaki

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#3
The goal is to catch as much of the most egregious links and disavow them. The worst of the worst. You won't catch them all. Even with subscriptions to Majestic, Ahrefs, and more, while combining with Search Console, you'll never get them all. You'll also create a spreadsheet nightmare for yourself.

I see disavow as having 2 main purposes:
  1. Catch as many bad links as reasonably possible to defend from an algorithmic penalty.
  2. Show that you consistently disavowed to prove to Google that you care and don't want spam in the case that you eventually get a manual penalty.
On point 1, if you catch most of it without deliberating over the ones that may or may not be bad enough, you should be getting enough real links in the mean time to eventually have enough trust and authority to absorb anything you miss.

On point 2, you want to time stamp each time you add a new batch of links to your disavow. I was doing it monthly for a couple years but now my site is big enough that I need to start doing it weekly, otherwise it's an all day job at the first of the month. But i'm saying that you can add comments in your disavow file to show further that you've been consistent and care, which leads to the conclusion that you didn't spam your own site with PBN's or whatever else.

I'll comment on your questions in the way I see it:

1. If the link has questionable/spammy backlinks that consist of garbage (mass nonsense links like profiles and/or an unnatural link profile that ramps up artificially), it’s bad.

If the page itself is spammed to death, then yeah, I'd disavow it. But to be honest I never check that. I generally will know if I should disavow based on the Title Tag and Anchor Text used in the link, which I get from Ahrefs. If it's iffy, then I can visit the page and look at it visually. I never check it's own backlinks though, there's simply not enough time to do that.

2. If the link's domain has poor contextual relevance, illegible or spun text, it’s bad.

Look at the relevance of the page, not domain. Error ridden and spun text should 100% be disavowed.

3. If the link's domain has no traffic, doesn’t otherwise rank for anything and appears as though it’s a guest blog that’s just selling links, it’s bad. (I'm not referring to Web 2.0s or business profiles).

Yes, you want to disavow anything that resembles a PBN or link seller, especially if you can see it's already penalized and gets no traffic. You can use something like SEMRush to see historical traffic and tell if it got penalized and when. Usually it's Penguin penalties and they revert to selling links. I don't disavow all Penguinized sites, but if they're selling links I do.

4. If the link’s domain ranks for objectionable terms (e.g. pharma, adult, Viagra, gambling, sexy pictures), it’s bad.

Usually, yes. Sometimes they've been spammed in the past after being hacked and fixed the hack but didn't deal with the backlinks. Are they penalized?

5. If the link has a low DR and/or UR, it could be bad...

99% of pages online are low metrics of all types. It's the foundation of the web. Every site starts that way. It means nothing. Like you said, look at other factors, disregard metrics. You'd be sad if you disavowed a link on a low metric site that became the next Alexa top 50 site.

6. If the link’s domain or the link is riddled with ads, it could be bad (especially if the ads are for objectionable products/services).

No. Ads are fine. You're allowed to monetize your website however you see fit. Google may not rank you, but they don't consider it poisonous in terms of links. Google themselves serve some shifty ads. It depends on your niche and if you've blocked those ad niches and which network you're using, etc.

7. If the link’s domain and/or page link out to bad objectionable sites, it’s bad (e.g. the type of sites referenced in no. 4 above).

Yeah, you don't want to be in a bad neighborhood. But it might be blog comments and moderators not being careful. Those links are usually nofollow too. But yeah, in general you're right.

A. Am I on the right track?

Sure, but you're thinking too deeply. Less think, more do. I understand needing to know how these things work though, but don't get trapped in overthinking. You can't catch everything and nobody has the time or resources to do it anyways, especially once your site grows.

C. How quickly should I go about disavowing objectionable links? No penalty (that I am aware of) has been rendered and the vast majority of backlinks to my site are not bad.

Start monthly, move to bi-weekly once the numbers get too large. You'll start getting caught up in image scraper sites, wikipedia copies, web 2.0 automated networks, etc. Once that happens the numbers climb fast.

D. If the vast majority of my backlink profile is composed of non-objectionable links, with a couple of bad apples, does that (i) lessen the immediate urgency with respect to the need to disavow or (ii) buy me some goodwill with Google?

Yes, try negative SEO-ing Walmart or Amazon or Apple or even a medium sized site with great branding. Age, authority, trust, freshness, all of this defends you from the problem. Yes, the ratio of bad links to good links can buy you time or make it more urgent. Yes, disavowing will likely buy you good will if you ever get a manual penalty. It's proof that it's not your doing.

E. I happened upon a (likely false) guru who provides people with a service whereby she or her team will analyze a site’s backlink profile and provide a proposed disavow list.

Completely unneccesary. There are no secrets. This isn't a deep topic. There's nothing really to analyze. You either take the time to do it or you don't. If you hire someone it should be understood as outsourcing for time, not for expertise. Disavowing is the simplest thing in SEO. Bad URLs and bad domains go in, you upload it. You should be able to make the call on most URLs within 1 to 2 seconds. Some may take 10 seconds to visit the page and look. That will take care of 99% of bad links. You don't need to waste a ton of time worrying about that last 1%. You should spend that time getting good links and publishing more content and marketing.
 

becool

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#4
IMO you're over-complicating things.
If I had a nickel for every time I over-complicated this stuff, I'd have many nickels. You're right, though and it puts things in perspective. I'll stick to a regular interval and just keep things moving.

I see disavow as having 2 main purposes:
  1. Catch as many bad links as reasonably possible to defend from an algorithmic penalty.
  2. Show that you consistently disavowed to prove to Google that you care and don't want spam in the case that you eventually get a manual penalty.
I think my starting point was flawed in that I didn't necessarily appreciate the two main purposes you outlined above. I disavowed a handful of links after reading your response and the response above yours. Thanks, guys.
 
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#5
I prefer to get links removed before starting a disavow. I have no proof, and am maybe just wearing a tinfoil hat, but I think that requesting shitty links to be taken down, and avoiding a disavow file results in Google having a smaller amount of data on you.
 
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#6
What I would do.... get a report.

https://www.linkresearchtools.com/

I love these guys (Rick Lomas in particular).

The said report give a DTOXRISK and you can scan through.

Just get rid of the blatantly bad links - porn, pharma, etc.

Link REMOVAL - ie email the website, beg for the html to be removed - is better than disavow.

Show that you consistently disavowed to prove to Google that you care and don't want spam in the case that you eventually get a manual penalty.
I'm confused. When I did research on this, it was best practice NEVER to disavow (unless some bad shit really happened). Do you suggest that we should do REGULAR disavows to establish a record of care and awesomeness? Who else here has a regular disavow schedule?
 

Ryuzaki

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#7
Do you suggest that we should do REGULAR disavows to establish a record of care and awesomeness?
I don't suggest you disavow JUST for that reason. I suggest you disavow the absolute trash being spammed at your site, and do it regularly.

The people who say NOT to disavow are really saying "leave all the spam there in case it's helping you. When it stops helping you, disavow it." But when it stops, that means you have a penalty, and then you screwed yourself by waiting.
 

Sutra

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#8
@Ryuzaki Do you think getting the DTOXRISK at https://www.linkresearchtools.com/ as @MuffinS mentioned is good enough to catch the links that should be disavowed, without it saying good links are actually bad? Be great to have a quick way to see the bad links, but definitely don't want to put good links in disavow because the reports shows them as bad.
 
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#9
@Sutra you will still need to review the report as it will still catch a number of links that you want to keep. The tool is prone to false positives as link evaluation is automated.

For each link, you can make an educated assessment and do a manual high-level scan. The reason I like this tool is that it supposedly has a deeper index than AHREFS and MOZ.

As for deciding what links to disavow, It depends on how bad of a situation you are in. If you already suffer a manual penalty, the best approach is to be AGGRESSIVE. Think of cancer. You wanna burn off healthy flesh around it to make sure you get all of it.