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Should You Disavow Links From Spammy Yet High Authority Sites?

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Should You Disavow Links From Spammy Yet High Authority Sites?


Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from David in Craughwell, Ireland, who asks:

“When checking my and my competitor backlink profiles, I come across many links from firebaseapp.com and web.app domains.

These domains have high DA but the pages are very often spammy and low quality. It is my instinct to disavow these links but due to the high DA I am unsure how to proceed.

Do you have any advice, please, for when an SEO encounters awful links from high DA domains?”

Hi David,

Great question! The first thing to think about is that Domain Authority (DA) does not come from Google and is not a credible metric.

How Does Domain Authority Factor Into Your Link Disavowal Strategy?

DA is a calculation devised by a popular SEO tool and used by that tool only (not Google) to evaluate a website.

If you trust that tool, then you can use the metric as a way to begin looking at a domain or a specific webpage and whether a backlink may have some value.

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But I personally wouldn’t let a high DA sway me in one direction or another. There are a ton of high authority domains you likely don’t want a backlink from.

Porn sites and gambling sites may have a ton of domain authority and content that gets a lot of engagement, but that doesn’t mean a backlink could be good for you (unless you’re in those niches).

I found links to a fashion site I work on from porn sites with high DA in their cosplay section and we disavowed because we don’t want the association, even though the link was natural and benefited the end user.

So What Should We Be Looking At?

The more important thing to look at is how Google will see that link.

Ask yourself why that site is linking to you – does your company sells something relevant to the topic of the website, the topic of the category, or the content within the page?

If you sell something unrelated like plumbing supplies or service alarm systems, Google will probably question why you have links from this site.

They will either ignore the link or potentially devalue your site as it may appear you’re building spammy links.

If this high DA site or series of sites has a ton of outbound links, there is a reasonable chance Google knows it is part of a farm and will likely ignore the link on its own.

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If you’re worried about these links, you can always add them to your disavow sheet if it makes you feel more comfortable. Disavowing only takes a second and having peace of mind can last a long time.

That’s why I still do it for my clients.

For your app-specific questions: If you’re seeing this as an attack on your website, or it is a developer who is a fan of your brand and decided to link to you from all their apps or sites, you can leave it alone.

It’s likely they’re linking to all of your competitors, too, or your website is contextually relevant to the topic of the website.

If you do decide to trust a tool’s metric (all of them have their own) then I would pull a report of the specific URL linking to you (not the base domain) and look to see what the score is for that page.

If the score is good and the content makes sense, I would keep the link. If it is clearly spam and not topically relevant I would consider disavowing the page or the entire domain to save time.

You can go a step further and pull similar reports for your top three competitors in Google search to see if they have similar backlinks. If they do then you may be in the clear as everyone in your space has the same issues.

In this situation focus on things in your control like on-page SEO with your content, page structure, schema, internal links, speed, and UX.

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Do You Really Need To Worry About Disavowing Links?

Google has gotten a lot better about detecting good and quality backlinks while ignoring spammy backlinks, including high DA sites.

If the links are clearly not natural and only pointing at your site, go for the disavow and do domain-wide.

Again, peace of mind is something that can have a positive impact on your business and your personal life, so taking a couple of seconds to add the URL to your disavow file and upload is absolutely worth it – but only if you are sure it is a spammy link and from an irrelevant site/page/source.

I hope this answers your question and thank you for asking it.

These subjective questions are always more fun to tackle – you made my day!  =0)

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Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!


Featured image: fatmawati achmad zaenuri/Shutterstock

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SEO

How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer’s Landscape

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How Data Is Reshaping The SEO & Digital Marketer's Landscape

There is a new data revolution happening, and it’s sweeping across the industry so quickly that many SEO and digital marketers are struggling to make sense of the insights and intelligence at their disposal.

To utilize this opportunity, marketers need to evolve their mindsets and use technology to analyze multiple data formats and understand the new opportunities it can bring.

SEO marketers of today and digital marketers of tomorrow will need to extract, structure quickly, and manipulate data to drive the most critical business outcomes.

Data has always been mission-critical to digital decision-making.

The Economist, back in 2017, declared it the world’s most valuable resource.

Fast forward to today and the future, and we can see that the exponential growth of data fuelling this revolution is staggering.

According to the IDC, the amount of digital data created over the next five years will be greater than twice the amount of data made since the advent of digital storage.

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Think about that for a second!

Flash drives, for example, were introduced in 2000.

This means that in the next five years, marketers will have to analyze and make sense of 2x the data created in the last 22 years!

The Data Revolution Means More Sources & Complexity For SEO

The data revolution has gone on for some time now, and it’s changed our concept of what counts as “data,” rightfully so.

In the past, we thought only numbers mattered.

But, in this new digital world where everything is converted into ones and zeros, data is broader and contains text, audio, and visual information – all bits waiting to be processed!

  • Machine-based and human-generated data are growing at a rate of 10x faster than conventional business data.
  • Machine-created data is increasing exponentially at a 50x the growth rate. This data revolution is primarily marketing-driven and consumer-oriented who are “always on.”
  • In just the last 18 months, the volume of site processing data we have been generating at BrightEdge has increased by 11x!
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As a result of these increasingly demanding trends, SEO and digital marketers need to adapt and become more like data analysts and scientists in approaching the extraction of structured data insights and business intelligence – without adding more manual work.

Fortunately, SEO is well-positioned to take advantage of this new data revolution.

  • Increasing your keyword universe – More keywords mean more data points to look at with reporting and fuelling insights. While focusing on conversion rate metrics is very important, it wouldn’t be possible without opening the scope of your audience and getting more people in the door. SEO has drifted away from writing for a primary dedicated keyword and is now way more advanced with advancements in search engines like Google’s understanding of intent of searches through RankBrain and BERT.
  • Increasing your search footprint – will also help you discover unexplored of informing your future content strategy or ideate new keyword ideas. However, sometimes you might miss the boat, like the transition of Content Management Systems slowly turning into “Experience Platforms” as they offer more functionality to meet the needs of today’s webmaster or marketer.

Read More On SEJ

Data Is The Currency Of An Accelerated SEO & Digital Age

By 2025, Worldwide data will reach 175 zettabytes.

But unfortunately, the human brain can’t process, structure, and analyze all that data.

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So technology engines have to help, and digital marketers should be the driver.

There is a massive opportunity for companies that can utilize data to create more engaging experiences.

A recent study showed that 95% of business leaders recognize this as their biggest growth lever over the next three years, which means there’s plenty at stake here!

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Robust data analysis ensures decisions are evidence-based and have more accountability.

Drawing on existing and new data sources to fully integrate business acumen and analytical skills into decision making, sourcing, managing, and analyzing large amounts of unstructured data will ensure continued use and success.

SEO began with data and has evolved.

From the introduction of real-time SEO in 2019 and Page Experience Updates in 2021, SEO’s future lies again with data and the creation of intelligent systems. Here marketers can leverage combined data sources that structures data for them.

As a result, they can achieve business objectives and stay ahead during all data and digital transformation stages.

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Technology & AI Are Helping SEO Evolve

Advancements in technology and, in particular, AI and Natural Language Processing has meant that SEO and digital marketers can become data analysts without having to become an actual data scientist.

This is key to unlocking structured insights from your company’s big data to make more precise predictions about what is coming next based on existing information.

Digital marketers can evolve, understand key trends, and learn in new areas such as:

  • Predictive modeling of future trends and forecasting based on multiple types of data.
  • Real-time identification of opportunities and intelligence.
  • Digital research at scale with both historical and real-time data.
  • Leveraging automated visualizations for various stakeholders.
  • Improved data security and compliance.
  • Market and business intelligence at a macro level.
  • Consumer behavior at the most granular level.

SEO and digital marketers can learn critical skills such as statistics, data analysis, data visualization, and strategy.

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AI, NLP, and machine learning are helping them do this without needing expertise in computer programming and software applications.

What digital marketers must do is combine their communication skills and analytics skills with stakeholders who cannot think outside of the advertising box.

Read More On SEJ

Data Analysis & Intelligence As Competitive Advantage

The application of technology will be the driving force behind the next generation of data analysis technology.

Therefore, SEO and digital marketers of today should learn how to better utilize insights from data analysis.

It’s becoming more apparent that the marketing platforms of tomorrow will require the capabilities of data analysis and science infrastructure at their core.

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The future of marketing will blend technological know-how, business sense, and an understanding of data analysis.

The next generation of SEO will touch all components of marketing, from video, email, and voice, to digital performance of content.

SEO and data science will converge into one evolved discipline that drives omnichannel acquisition and democratizes data.

Marketers who embrace this new era of SEO will be well-positioned to succeed in the years to come.

Data is reconfirming its role as the new competitive advantage, and as SEO and digital marketers, you must evolve if you want to be part of the future.

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Featured Image: ra2 studio/Shutterstock

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