How to disavow bad links in Google Search Console

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Low-quality and spammy backlinks can get your website in trouble with Google. These are links from bad websites pointing to yours, and they can make Google think your site is sketchy. When this happens, your site can lose traffic,drop in search rankings, or even disappear from search results. Sometimes, competitors might send a bunch of these bad links your way on purpose to mess with you.

To fix this, you can use a handy tool called the Disavow Links tool from Google. The disavow link tool helps website owners block or remove bad links pointing to a website. In this article, we will cover how to know bad backlinks, what is the damage of them, and how to disavow bad links in Google Search Console

If you already know or just want to know how to disavow bad backlinks, jump ahead to the instruction guide. 

A manual action is a big problem for any website owner. It means that someone at Google has reviewed your site directly and has found an issue. When this happens, they will send you a message to let you know via Google Search Console.

There are two types of manual action penalties:

The first one is the partial penalty. Only specific parts of your website are affected. Some pages might drop in search rankings, but the rest of your site stays okay.  Site-wide penalty is the worst-case scenario. Your entire website gets hit hard. You could see a big drop in rankings, and in some cases, your site might disappear from Google search results altogether.

In both cases, it’s critical to fix the issues and request a review to lift the penalty.

The main cause is that you are not managing and controlling the backlink status of your site. It’s either you have indexed terrible links or your competitor has purposefully indexed low quality links to your site. 

Our recommendation is to create a simple Excel sheet and regularly check the status of your backlink profile. Here is an example of a simple Google Sheet.

Domain URL Status  Note
example.com  https://example.com/page1 Good ………….
example2.com https://example2.com/page1 Suspicious  low DA, irrelevant
To check backlinks quality, you can try SEO tools like Ahrefs which gives you detailed metrics. In the Backlink profile menu, click on the “Backlinks” and you will see the list of all the backlinks directed to your site with metrics of each. 
the screenshot of ahrefs tool

A good backlink should have high Domain Authority (DA) and URL Rating (UR). The higher, the better. Low DA or UR means a bad status for the site. The traffic should be above 2,000+ monthly. Another thing you need to research deeper is whether the linked domains are contextually relevant and high authority sites or not. If there are too many irrelevant domains, perhaps the site is spam. In addition, if there are more than 100 external links to the site, it may be a spammy backlink.

The process is pretty straightforward. You need to prepare a list of bad backlinks, then send them to Google via Search Console, requesting that they ignore them.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open a text editor like Notepad on your computer.
  2. List each URL or domain that you want Google to ignore, one per line.
  3. You can add comments by starting a line with #. These lines won’t affect the disavowal.
  4. Save the file with a name ending in .txt, like disavow-list.txt.
  5. Make sure the file is encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII format.

Example file:

# Disavowing specific pages
http://spamdomain.com/badpage1.html
https://www.anothersite.com/spam-article.php 

# Disavowing entire domains
domain:linkfarm.com
domain:suspiciouswebsite.net

Step 2: Submitting the file

  1. Go to the disavow links tool page on Google (you must be a property owner).
  2. Choose the property (website or domain) where you want to apply the disavow list.
  3. If there’s an existing list, you’ll see a summary of what’s already disavowed.
  4. Click to upload your disavow file from your computer.
  5. If there are errors in your file, Google will show you what needs fixing.
  6. Once uploaded successfully, it may take a few weeks for Google to process and ignore those links.

Step 3: Appeal review in Google Search Console

In the Manual actions report in Google Search Console, you can find bad links issues under the name “Unnatural links to your site”.

the screenshot of manual actions

After you’ve uploaded your disavow file using the tool, the next step is to ask Google to review it. This means sending them a message where you explain the problem you’re having. 

Example: 

Recently, we have noticed a number of strange links pointing to our site that are harming its health. We have checked these links and submitted a file of bad links to the disavow link tool. We always comply with Google guidelines and never intend to spam links on our site. This may be the work of malicious individuals who aim to damage our site’s quality and potentially have it penalised by Google. Please review our file and remove these links so that our site can return to a healthy state. Thank you. 

Conclusion

If you do what we suggest, you can quickly get rid of these harmful links from your site. But it’s better to prevent problems before they happen. If you get a “manual actions” report, it means your site is already suffering—your keywords might drop, and you might lose visitors. Kahunam recommends keeping track of who’s linking to your site using Google Search Console. In general, keep your focus on getting good links, and try not to be tempted by offers of 100s or 1000s of backlinks within the space of a few weeks. It’s just too good to be true. It’s better to have strong, positive links than to index bad ones or work with SEO companies that use sneaky tricks to try to get fast results.

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