I have made many disavow files in my time as an SEO.
And I’ll be honest, it’s not always fun. It’s just part of the job.
That said, it is fun to outrank the competition, and a disavow file can help you do that.
In this post, I’ll walk you through my process for creating the best disavow file on the planet.
What We’ll Cover:
- What a disavow file is
- My process for building the perfect file:
- What kind of links you should look for
What Is A Disavow File?
I’ll make this quick.
A disavow file is a .txt file that you submit in the Google Search Console Disavow Tool. The file is used to block unnatural or spammy links to your site.
For example, if someone has worked on your site and attempted to manipulate its ranking through link schemes or paid links, that could potentially draw a penalty.
To stop that from happening, you need to find those links and submit them in your disavow file.
Essentially, the file tells Google not to count the links submitted as they evaluate the quality of your website.
You need to update this file and resubmit it every two to four weeks.
Keep in mind, Google notes that you should only use a disavow file on two occasions. First, if you believe you have a large number of spammy or artificial links, and second, if a link has drawn (or has the potential to draw) a manual action on your website.
My Process For The Perfect File
Now, I am going to walk you through my process.
Start by setting up a Google Alert on your website to track spam mentions.
If you don’t know, a Google Alert is a tool that allows you to track mentions of a brand online.
I find that Google Alerts allow you to get notified about the spammiest links, so you’ll want to make sure you set up an Alert on your top branded terms.
When a clear spammy link comes in, do not open it. Instead, right-click on the link and copy the destination.
You can then paste that into a document and cut out the domain name. This will ensure you don’t inject any malware onto your computer.
Here are some related articles on the topic in case this is not what you are looking for. If it is, keep reading below.
- Bad links for SEO, How To Get Rid Of Them Fast
- 12 Things That Need To Die For SEO To Be Reborn A Better Industry
- The New World Of Link Building And SEO
- 12 Old School SEO Tactics That Are Hurting Your Site
- 29 Black Hat SEO Tactics And How To Fight Them
- How To Spot If Your SEO Company Is Black Hat
- What Is White Hat SEO?
- White Hat vs Black Hat Link Building
Run a Link Detox Report Once a Month
Link Detox is an incredibly helpful tool by Link Research Tools.
Using it, you can gather links from all the major sources across the web. Then, you can specify your money terms, branded terms, and the category of the site you run. This will help Link Detox determine the kind of links to look for, and which are relevant to your site.
Link Detox will then run a report that collects all the links they’ve marked as potentially toxic.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Next, you have to go through the process of evaluating each questionable link.
Unfortunately, this will be much harder for big sites than small ones, but it is worth it.
Check your Google Search Console Report For Top URLs And Go Through Each One
Every website has pages that are more important than others. I feel it is very important to review your top URLs in the Google Search Console Link Report every few weeks.
As you go through, you’ll want to look for any new spammy links. With so many black hat SEO tactics used lately, you’ll likely find that the majority of these bad links are coming from your competitors.
Check Majestic For New Links
Majestic has one of the largest link databases in the world, and it’s another tool I like to use to build a disavow file.
In particular, I like the Anchor Text Report and the New Links Report. These will show you if there are too many links pointing at a site with the same term, as well as any new links you should evaluate.
It’s a good idea to take a hard look at anything with a high level of anchor text. This is usually a clear indicator that something is wrong.
Check SEMRush For Toxic URLs and Check Moz For Spam Score
SEMRush and Moz both have some quality reports for bad links. SEMRush even has a secondary tool that will allow you to reach out to the webmaster directly.
Moz, on the other hand, has a tool that will allow you to export links directly to a disavow file.
These are two excellent options. However, I caution users to look hard at the links and evaluate each one. Do not just block them; this will likely lead to issues down the line.
What Kind of Links to Look For
So, what, exactly, do you look for when evaluating links? This is arguably the hardest part of creating a disavow file.
Here are a few things to look out for:
- Foreign sites
- Anything that does not end in .com
- Anything with numbers, odd subdomains or words that don’t make sense
- Anything that gives your browser a security warning
- Anything that doesn’t have a clear purpose for linking to you
Bottom line: you must have a disavow file in place.
In my opinion, in very competitive search results, the majority of the time one person is targeting the others with negative SEO.
It’s important to put in the work and block the bad links. Keep your defense strong, and you will rank high.