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With all of the Google algorithm “animal” updates there has been a significant focus put on the quality of the backlinks to a website.
What this means is you need to have a pristine backlink profile if you want to rank your site well.
The old ways of building 1,000’s of spammy backlinks don’t work anymore and probably never will work again.
Which is good news for people who were doing things the right away all along and bad news for people who were looking for a shortcut.
With this new focus on quality backlinks, Google developed the Disavow tool.
Google recognized that not every webmaster was building their own backlinks and they can’t control who links to them. So there are situations where someone may have loads of spammy backlinks that someone else built to their site.
This could have been a shady service provider or even a competitor trying to gain an advantage.
Using the disavow tool in Google Webmaster Tools, the website owner can now tell Google to ignore these bad links.
You have to be careful though, because you can also disavow good links. You have to be sure that the links you want to disavow are actually bad.
Some tools that will help you do that are Majestic SEO and Site Explorer by SEO Moz.
You can look up your domain in those tools and they will show you a list of backlinks pointing to your site. These are bad links and good links.
It’s up to you to decide which ones are bad and disavow those.
The paid versions of those services will turn up many more links, but even the free versions give you enough to get started.
The types of links you don’t want linking to your site are links for “bad neighbourhood” sites. These include sites with racist content, porn, guns, drugs, etc.
Nowadays, even sites that aren’t closely related to your industry can be bad (but sometimes they are good).
For example, if you own a recipe website and you get lots of backlinks from financial services sites, that could be bad for your link profile.
Sometimes, it is a tricky business determining which backlinks are okay and which ones aren’t.
Once you’ve found them, you put them into an excel file and use the Google Disavow tool in the Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) to tell Google to ignore those links.
There is no undoing this command, once you’ve disavowed the links, Google will ignore them forever.
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