If I have to name two most scary updates from Google that will be none other than Google Panda and Penguin updates. I mean from the name they sound so cute but I remember how many businesses really lost their rankings and traffic over night when they first launched.
According to hubshout, SEO is one of the top 3 services will be in the demand for 2015 and as I am standing mid of 2016, I have to say this prediction was pretty much correct.
Personally I see my clients are more serious about SEO than ever before and they are willing to spend more money on things that will actually help their business grow. When SEO is in demand, panda and penguin recovery services will naturally be in demand.
However, I encountered quite a few businesses that are either staying away from penguin hit or they are trying to get out of the penalty are creating disavow file the wrong way. So, in the rest of the post I am going to discuss about disavow files and what one should consider while creating and updating it.
What is Disavow File?
Disavow tool is a tool by Google Webmaster Console that gives you the ability to identify and remove (at least in Googles eyes) unnatural or spam inbound links (from other sites to yours).
This simply mean if you have any link in your link profile that you think is harmful for your website, you can add it in your disavow file so that Google does not pass any link juice from those URLs.
What to know when creating a disavow file for your website?
There are quite a few things that most people either don’t know or atleast they are doing it wrong. Below are some of the things that one should know when creating a disavow file for any website.
- Create when under the penguin penalty
I believe this is the biggest misconception that most small business owners have. They only think about creating a disavow file and upload in a disavow tool by Google webmaster console when they are under attack.
This is completely wrong when it comes to disavow links. Creating a disavow file means you are acknowledging Google in advance that these links should not pass any link juice back to your website as they are untrusted links for you.
You don’t really have to wait for the penguin to hit you. Audit your link profile from time to time and if you find any link which is shady, add them in the disavow links and update the disavow file accordingly.
Best Practice: Personally, I do link audits after every 3 months for each of my client and my own website and see if everything is under control and I am satisfied with the quality of links that I am receiving. If not, I immediately either remove the link (if possible) or else update the disavow file and upload it accordingly.
Regardless of the fact that the website is not under penguin penalty!
- Over-write current disavow file
Marie Haynes who is considered to be the best player when it comes to penguin penalty discussed this issue in her webinar here and I can’t agree her more. I see lot of webmasters when they wanted to include a new link in their disavow file they simple create another file, include the link and overwrite the file accordingly.
This is not the right approach at all and if you didn’t change, the worst case scenarios is you will become a food for penguin. The reason is very simple, when you overwrite the file without taking the previous data, Google believes that previous links are no-more shady and you are looking for a link juice from those URLs.
When your previous links started flowing link juice, your website become less stable in the eye of Google and chances of getting penalized usually increased.
Best Approach: I always make sure to download the latest file and compare the latest audit with that file so that we update the file and upload it accordingly instead of uploading the file with new links only.
- URL vs. Domain
I am sure there will be lot of people who disagree me but stay with me and I will explain my reasons in detail. The idea is to disavow a domain instead of a URL only.
Penguin is the result of shady link building, which means if you have too many shady links in your link profile, your website will be considered as shady, risky and less authoritative. If you link to any other domain, chances are you will hurt their rankings and reputation instead of helping.
In most cases not URLs but complete domain get penalized so if you disavow a domain this means any link coming from particular URL should not pass juice. Whereas, when disavowing a URL, you have to make sure that every URL is disavowed or else your website ranking and reputation will be at risk.
In order to stay safe from any confusion and misunderstanding, in 95% of the cases, disavowing a domain instead of a URL is a better approach.
- Article Submission and PR websites
Getting links from Article Submission and low quality PR website isn’t really a good strategy.
But I have seen few of my clients who looked at the disavow file and argue that why I includes domains of several article and free PR websites as they really work hard and spent couple of bucks to get those links.
Around 2 or more years back when I was working on the disavow file for one of my client and after the 2 weeks of submission I see a message in Google webmaster tool saying that the penalty is not waved as there are still many links that looks shady in the eye of Google. Those were the good days when Google also give few examples and one of the examples was an article submission website and PR website.
I disavow all article and PR links and guess what, the penalty actually waved.
Best Practice: Frist do not build links via PR and mediocre and low quality article submission websites. If you have this kind of link pointing back to your website, either remove the link or disavow it immediately.
There may be other ideas, techniques and things you should consider when creating and uploading a disavow file for your website in order to stay away from penguin but above are the few misconceptions I generally see people have. Avoid these mistakes and stay penguin proof.