Does disavowing links have an impact on website traffic or SEO rankings?

by | Jun 25, 2021

Disavowing a backlink means simply discarding malicious links pointing to the website. It implies requesting search engines like Google to ignore that particular backlink while determining the website’s SERP rankings.

A backlink is an inbound link directing you to a different website, also considered as a significant ranking factor for websites by search engines like Google. Thus, good quality backlinks play a crucial role in increasing the website ranking position and assist the website to rank higher in SERPs. In contrast, bad backlinks are unnatural, spammy links that will direct to bad sites and ruin the website’s rankings.

It is a fact that the more backlinks on a page, the more traffic it gets. But, if these links are unnatural or toxic, they can do more harm than good as Google will consider your site as less trustworthy. If so, disavowing these links could help your site remove this distrust, and you could see improved rankings.

So, what kind of links should be disavowed? There are certain metrics to be taken into consideration before disavowing any backlinks.

What kind of links should be disavowed?

-Trace spammy, low-quality or inappropriate links pointing to your site that you didn’t want to associate with and remove the links without any hesitation.

– Links from disreputable sources that could harm the Domain Authority (DA) and Trust Flow (TF) of your website can be disavowed.

– Review if the links to your site would be of value, like would the website get a large enough audience. You can do so using tools like SEMrush, which shows the overall site’s health.

Google’s John Mueller asks to keep an eye on a few things while disavowing links. First, a link that looks bad may still help your site, and disavowing these links might impact the rankings. For example, obsolete links were once related to your site and now become outdated. But, the value of the links remains the same as they are from trusted sources even though linked to outdated content.

Another example is some links may not directly relate to the content on your site. This doesn’t mean it’s a bad link until you are confident that the links are causing issues for your site. It should not be disavowed if it’s from a trusted source, as they also impact the SEO rankings.

John Mueller also says that the disavow tools shouldn’t be used indiscriminately. Initially, before using the disavow tool, try removing backlinks manually by Google Webmaster tools. They provide a list of all the links pointing to the website. Analyze the links, including their URLs and the anchor text, prioritizing which links should be removed. Then send a request to the link owner to remove or disavow the link.

Another way is to assess your backlinks profile using Google Search Console and other tools such as Majestic, Moz, SEMrush and Ahrefs. Then, add the links into a plain text file and upload them to the disavow tool.

The disavowing process doesn’t happen immediately. The Google bots take almost 48 hours to notice that a new disavow file has been uploaded against that domain. Later, it takes weeks or even months to recrawl all the URLs and update them.


Disavowing links play a crucial role in impacting your website traffic and SEO ranking for better or worse. Hence, before disavowing links, it is essential to scrutinize each link to identify whether it’s bringing down or causing harm to your site rather than blindly removing the bad links.

To watch the latest Google SEO Office Hours, please check out the video below:



About The Author…

Durga has a master’s degree in engineering. Technological advances in digital space interest her a lot. Digital marketing is her forte and she passionately follows latest trends in the digital marketing space. She has written many trending articles on various social media platforms. Her areas of interest include SEO Optimization, structured data, SMM, Keywords research and analysis etc. She is focused, resourceful and dedicated.

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