WhaleShark SEO > SEO > Backlink Management & Disavow File

Backlink Management & Disavow File

As we mention on our home page, backlinks are one of the top two ranking factors in Google’s algorithms. I’m sure this statement is self-explanatory, but allow me to put it another way; If you don’t have enough quality backlinks, or you have a low-quality backlink profile, you will struggle with online visibility. Plain and simple. There’s a little thing they call ‘Penguin’, this little guy plays a huge role in determining which sites show up in the SERPs.

What is Google Penguin?

Penguin is the name given to the algorithm launched in 2012 by Google. To keep things simple, this algorithm focuses on detecting spammy link tactics. When spammy link tactics are detected, you can get slapped with a manual action penalty.
Before this update was announced, all you needed to do to rank, was place your site’s URL in as many other websites as possible. Now, this thing we call ‘quality’, yeah, that did not matter back then. As you can imagine, it was all a huge spammy, low-quality mess. Thanks to this algorithm, SEO’s and website owners are careful as to how they go about creating links to their sites. It is still a top two ranking factor, so you must get links, somehow right? Right, but you must play by the rules now, and it is not easy.
Another thing to keep an eye on, are negative SEO attacks. Yes, this is a thing, there are people out there with no ethics who try to take out their competitors by placing the competitor’s site on hundreds or thousands of spammy websites. This would trigger a Penguin manual penalty which means your site disappears from the search results.

This is where the experts at WhaleShark SEO come in. We have many years’ experience in identifying toxic backlinks and the removal or disavowal of such links. Below is a screenshot of the famous, industry-leading tool SEM Rush. The screenshot is of an old client who was hit by a Penguin penalty in 2012. Back then, Penguin updates would take a year or more for an algorithm refresh. This means you would have to wait that long to ‘fully’ recover. Looking at this case, I think it’s safe to say this client recovered from this manual action penalty.

Google Penguin Update Study - Backlink Management

Backlink Management Services

Our backlink management service is an ongoing process. At the start of a new project we fully analyze all existing links pointing to your site. We use specialized tools to provide us with ample information on each backlink. As with most things however, we cannot rely on tools alone, this is where the expertise and experience come in. You need to know what you’re doing here, removing the wrong link can negatively affect your rankings. The same is true for the opposite, if you leave some links which you may think are ok, but really are toxic, you will have the same negative results. After the initial analysis, we proceed with backlink audits once or twice a month (depending on the size of the site and backlink profile).


Below are a few of the many things we look for:


Does the linking domain contain malware?

Is the site indexed in the most important search engines like Google?

Is it a low quality or irrelevant directory?

Does the domain contain a high ‘citation flow’ but very low ‘trust flow’?

Is the linking site low quality? As in it offers nothing to users, or full of Ads?

Is the linking domain part of a link-scheme or link network/link farm?

Are there multiple links from domains containing similar website footprints, IP’s, registrants, C-class, etc.?

Are there site-wide links from the same domain?

Is the linking domain penalized by any algorithm?

Are these links comment or forum spam?

Disavow File Management

So, we identified some backlinks we believe could hurt your rankings, or have been hurting your rankings already, now what?

The best-case scenario, we will contact the website linking to your site and kindly ask them to remove the link. Depending on the website, we may make two or three attempts at removing the link. Some may ask us for payment, these are the guys who do this with that intention, to take money from people by doing wrong. Most will not reply, and some will cooperate and remove the link.
The next step is to create a Google Disavow File, in case your site doesn’t have one already. If you already have one uploaded to Google, then we simply edit this file. Each toxic domain needs to be added to this file and submitted to google Search Console’s disavow tool. This tells Google you had no intention on creating this link with the intent of manipulating the search results. This also tells Google that you do not want to be associated with that site, and Google in turn will not count that link towards determining where your site should rank. Additionally, Google will not pass any ‘link-juice’ (positive or negative) this site was passing on to your site. Of course, in most of these cases, it was probably hurting your site more than helping.

As mentioned above, this is an ongoing process, not a one-time thing. Some of the reasons why this needs to be continuous work are:

Perhaps one of your competitors placed your site’s URL on spammy sites to hurt your rankings.

Maybe you lost quality backlinks… If that’s the case, we will need to try and get them back.

Maybe your site got hacked, and is placed on low quality websites.

You cannot prevent other websites from linking to you, therefore you have to keep checking new links.

Maybe a site you had disavowed cleaned up the site and is now a decent site, might want to remove from disavow file.

There are algorithm updates all the time, perhaps what was a decent site is now penalized.

A site linking to you to hacked, you might want to play it safe until it is cleaned up.

And many other reasons, so click that button below if you think you may need some help with your backlinks…