Disavowing backlinks - is it worth it?

The great debate: to disavow or not to disavow?

I wanted to start a thread on whether you should be allotting time each quarter/year to review the backlinks currently pointing to your website.

But before we get carried away, for those who don’t know - backlinks are simply links from one website to another. Google view’s these links as “votes of confidence” in your website, and thereby boosting your search rankings.

With that said, not all backlinks are created equal. Many backlinks unfortunately come from spammy, low-quality websites that can actually harm your search rankings. This is mostly the case if the backlinks were acquired through black hat SEO tactics.

This is where you have the ability to tell Google: “hey, don’t associate me with these websites” through the disavow tool in Search Console.

Okay, so is it worth it? It’s a mixed bag, unfortunately.

  • To do this properly, you have to analyze every backlink you have using specific criteria, and identify if those backlinks are harmful.
  • Google is oftentimes quite good at filtering out the noise, and will often automatically ignore spammy backlinks for you.
  • Opportunity cost - can the effort to do this process be put elsewhere?

That’s all well and good, but if you’ve received a manual action from Google regarding toxic links pointing to your site, this process is necessary.

Or if you website’s traffic begins to take a massive hit, and if you use a tool like Ahrefs to keep track of your referring domains, which are steadily rising - it also might be time to do this process.

A massive caveat - don’t disavow links if you’re new to SEO; accidentally disavowing good backlinks will hurt your website traffic/revenue.

That’s just my 2 cents from my experience, however - many people feel disavowing backlinks isn’t necessary, and the time could/should be allocated elsewhere.

Let me know your thoughts on where you stand.

As always, thanks for reading.


Google has gotten a lot better about detecting good and quality backlinks while ignoring spammy backlinks, including high DA sites. If the links are clearly not natural and only pointing at your site, go for the disavow and do domain-wide. No need to spend lots of time on this anymore.

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Absolutely, @CesarNunez, thanks for chiming in.

Google’s ability to know whether a backlink is toxic or not has certainly come a long way. To further your point - generally speaking, for those who decide to go down the disavow route, it’s worthwhile to keep an eye on your traffic in the following weeks/months to hopefully avoid disavowing a link that was actually beneficial.

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For others who would like more detail on this. Here’s a link to the blog post when Google first launched this feature so you can get a sense of the intention they created it.

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Excellent, thanks for adding this @hatzopoulos