One thing that everyone wants to avoid is bad backlinks. These can have a drastic effect on your site if Google chooses to penalise you. In the past, you would have to go through a long-winded process of trying to get Google to disregard the links so it wouldn’t affect the site’s SEO.
Today, however, the process has been made a whole lot easier with SEMRush’s disavow tool. This lets you manage all of your bad backlinks for you to then go and upload to Google and advise Google that you don’t want these backlinks associated with your website.
There are many tools on the market that do the same thing, but SEMRush is always adding to their toolkit which makes it easier to do a number of things in the one place.
It is estimated that some 50% of SEO’s don’t bother doing any kind of disavow to websites that they look after which is madness as it’s part of the overall SEO process. It is wise to run a regular check on what links are pointing to your own website and disavow any of the rubbish that is on your list.
The first thing you can do is check the backlinks using domain analytics
This section gives you a little bit of information on each of the backlinks on the site. You can add the domains to your disavow list directly from here by clicking on the “+” at the side of each backlink. This will give you the option to send either the URL or the entire domain to your disavow list.
Once you have the list, you have the option to send it to the “backlink audit tool” for further analysis of the links. If you haven’t set a project up then SEMRush will create one for you.
Backlink Audit Tool
A massive problem you can have with link building is knowing the quality of your backlinks. Google is constantly changing as well which means a certain backlink may be relevant and powerful today but may not be forever more. SEMRush gives you a great tool that lets you completely analyse your website’s backlinks, displaying all of the metrics you need to determine whether the backlinks will benefit or in some cases harm your SEO.
First things first, creating a project(If you already have your project set up then you can skip this step). You need to add your domain name as a project to SEMRush to be able to use a few of their tools and the backlink audit is one of them. In this example, I’ll run a backlink audit for “pepsi.com”
Setting up a backlink audit is very easy. It will first ask you what kind of protocol you wish to use. I would suggest using the root domain as it tends to give you a good estimation. The other settings allow you to filter your results by choosing certain categories that your domain is related to and you can also select the target countries your domains come from.
When you’re ready, click on the “Start Backlink Audit”
Analysing your Links
This will then begin to find any backlinks that your website has. It may take a little while depending on the number of links you have. SEMRush can also be connected to other services such as Google Search Console, Analytics and Majestic which I would highly recommend. The more metrics that you have available allow you to really narrow down which backlinks are bad for your site.
As you can see from the screenshot above, SEMRush gives you a detailed analysis of your links. The main metric it compares your links against is a “Toxic Score”. A high toxic score means that a link is considered spammy and SEMRush can break it down even further, showing you exactly whats wrong with the domain and page.
The next step now would be to take those links that have a high toxic score and send them to SEMRush’s disavow tool. You can easily select the bad links either individually or in one big group.
At this point, you can download the links as a .txt file that you can then upload to Google Search Console.
The process of adding the disavow file is the most important step. It isn’t made easy by Google and this is intentional as they don’t want people accidentally disavowing all of their links. Below is how to disavow links using both methods.
Uploading via search console
- Head to Google search console and log in to your Gmail account.
- Next click on this link here (Google search console doesn’t link to this directly).
3. You’ll see a page like in the screenshot above. From here, select the domain that you are disavowing the links for.
4. Next, you will be prompted with a few terms and conditions for you to accept.
5. Click “choose file” and select the .txt file with the bad links and click “submit”
That’s your disavow file been uploaded. Google will send you an email notifying you of the change and it will take a few weeks for Google to crawl your site so you can see the changes take place.
It’s as easy as that. Your disavow file is really important if your site receives a lot of spammy links. Unfortunately (especially for larger sites) bad backlinks are something you have to deal with. There’s nothing you can do to stop people from linking to your site. However, using this tool is your way to fight against the spam that could potentially harm your business.
SEMRush now has the facility where you can also connect your Majestic SEO account into your SEMRush dashboard so that you also access the Majestic backlink data, which is a brilliant new feature as it gives you more access to backlinks so your disavow is easier than ever using both the SEMRush and Majestic backlink data.
You will see when you go to the backlink audit on the top you can add your analytics, search console and now your majestic SEO accounts, just follow the online instructions to sync this data into SEMRush.