If you do a Google search for this question, you’ll find article after article making strong claims about how some backlinks are spammy, and spammy backlinks can have an adverse effect on rankings.
Those articles are not necessarily wrong, but they are not correct either.
If you check the dates, you’ll find most that make these claims are from a few years ago. This is the challenge we find with SEO advice!
Best practice can date pretty quickly. Google is constantly striving to be the best possible search engine. Therefore, SEO is a constantly evolving and changing area.
The advice that’s usually given out in these articles is to Disavow them using Google’s disavow tool.
But… should you?
First up, what even are spammy backlinks?
Spammy backlinks are links from low quality or irrelevant sites.
They include links from what is referred to as PBNs. A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a network of websites created to build links to your main website. You can read more about these on this article on why you should avoid PBNs.
Should you Disavow Backlinks?
When deciding whether to disavow them using Googles Disavow tool (found in Google Search Console) ask yourself the following things:
- Did you buy these backlinks?
- Did you first notice them when checking Google or another SEO audit tool?
If you bought these links in some sort of retro attempt at outranking your competitors, then yes. Disavow.
If you did not willingly build them yourself and have never heard of the companies linking to you, then there’s no need to disavow.
Here’s what John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google had to say on Twitter:
This was consistent with another tweet in 2019:
Google can sometimes get things wrong, so if you notice a ranking change/drop that coincides with a change in backlink activity, then go ahead and disavow the suspect links.
Sometimes a negative SEO attack can be used to deceive Google and make it look like you have been engaging in inappropriate link building, but thankfully instances of this are rarer than they used to be, thanks to Google algorithms getting better at working out what is genuine or not.
Regularly monitoring your stats within Google Search Console will enable you to spot any unexpected changes and take action if necessary.
Head over to the Photo SEO Lab facebook page and ask away!