Back in 2016, Google released the Penguin 4.0 update. While the rollout came with a lot of new changes, a favorite among SEO experts was how the search engine ended link-based penalization.
That means, webmasters no longer have to disavow links for penguin-based offenses. At the time, some people even assumed that disavowing links had become altogether unnecessary.
But, that’s not exactly the case.
According to John Mueller, disavowing a link “makes sense if you have a manual action that’s based on link issues and you can’t clean those links up.”
Mueller further noted that:
“If you’re unsure as to whether or not Google is actually taking those into account or kind of taking those out of the equation, then the disavow file is a great way to kind of get peace of mind.”
In other words, disavowing a link is still a smart SEO decision. There’s just one small question; when does it make sense to disavow a link in your backlink profile?
Disavowing a Link: 5 Ways To Know It’s Time To Let Go
Outlined below are five ways for you to know when it’s time to let a link go.
1. When You Purchased the Link
Purchasing a link to enhance PageRank is in direct violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. That means, the search engine company can penalize you for it.
But, what if you made the purchase months ago – maybe even years – you should be home free, right?
No, not exactly. According to experts, any purchased link can come back to haunt you. Whether it’s from a link providing service, paid guest blog links or online directories, you’re not safe till you disavow them.
2. When You Have Spam Backlinks
Google hates spam and de-ranks sites for it. Not only did the search engine create the Penguin update to address link spam, but it also dedicated a whole page to link schemes in its quality guidelines.
So, how can you tell if a link is spammy?
Several backlink analysis tools exist to help you check for spam backlinks. Examples include Ahrefs and SEMrush.
3. When You Have Too Many Low-Quality Links
Although low-quality links are not as damaging as spam links, too many of them can devalue your site. In the end, it could prevent your site’s ranking from improving, regardless of your SEO strategy.
How can you identify a low-quality link, you ask?
Consider websites with low domain and page authority. In worst cases, the sites will have no page or domain indexation.
4. When You Have Too Many Irrelevant Backlinks
Sites with the highest content relevance tend to rank on the first SERP. So, it’s no secret that Google values relevancy.
However, content relevance extends beyond the length or depth of a write-up; the links are just as essential. As a result, sites with links from irrelevant sites – not related to your niche – typically get devalued in search results.
For example, a link from a baseball site to one about food recipe raises relevancy issues.
When you discover such a link in your profile, you know it’s time to let it go.
5. When You Suffer a Manual Link Penalty
Google sometimes manually reviews and penalizes some sites for violation of its quality guidelines. While several SEO practices can invoke the wrath of the search engine company, unnatural link building is a popular cause.
So, if you have received a manual penalty or ever received one in the past, you know it’s time to disavow the unnatural link.
With the right backlink analysis tool, you can collect all the information you need to know if a link is worth keeping.
Good luck with your link disavowing quest!