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To disavow or not? Getting it right, 10 years later.



To disavow or not? Getting it right, 10 years later.

To disavow or not Getting it right 10 years later

Google’s disavow links tool launched nearly a decade ago, on October 16, 2012.  As we approach the tenth anniversary, webmasters still have confusion and disagreement regarding how to approach a link analysis and properly use backlink data when considering a disavow.  A lot has changed since 2012!  

Whether you’re disavowing as a preventative measure or a means to recover your rankings, we’ll review current-day approaches to take based on our experience disavowing links over the past decade.  

Let’s begin by answering who likely doesn’t need a disavow, and that’s most of you.  If you’ve stuck with natural link acquisition and SEO traffic is on the rise, a link disavow is unlikely to help.  This is especially true if your site already has a relatively small number of backlinks or is in a less competitive vertical.  Submitting a disavow can even hurt the rankings of otherwise healthy websites if the tool isn’t used wisely.

Consider analyzing your backlinks and submitting a disavow if:

  1. You have an “unnatural links” notice in Google Search Console and corresponding manual action.
  2. You know unnatural links were acquired to your website, either recently or at any time in the past. Even links from years ago can come back to bite you as Google continues mapping out artificial link networks.
  3. You’ve experienced unexplainable traffic/ranking loss or traffic loss near the time of a known Google link-based update or core algorithm update. Similarly, traffic may be flat over long periods of otherwise strong on-page SEO and content creation initiatives, and you suspect off-page factors may be the reason why.
  4. You see a lot of new spammy links pointing to your website regularly and may be the target of a negative SEO attack.
  5. You don’t fully trust the algorithm and want to get a better understanding of your current link profile and level of risk.

Links from scrapers and other obvious spam are likely to get filtered out and ignored by Google, providing no value but also not counting against you. Nearly all websites have them, and you can usually ignore these yourself or include them in your disavow if you’re worried. But links from known link sellers and link networks can become a big problem. Frequent link-building tactics necessitating a link disavow include:

  • Buying guest blog posts or “sponsored content” without the appropriate link attributes. 
  • Buying links with a guaranteed minimum level of “authority.” 
  • Buying links from a list of sites that have varying pricing for placement.
  • Obtaining keyword-rich anchor links pointing directly to SEO landing pages. 
  • Buying links at all, for that matter, especially from anyone offering pre-selected placements.

Compiling your backlinks & properly analyzing them

For an advanced SEO looking for the most comprehensive look and their link data, merging multiple datasets (Google Search Console, Ahrefs, Moz, Majestic, Semrush, and so on) will paint the most complete picture of your backlink profile.  For the rest of you, hiring a professional to help is the best path forward for the rest of you – a second reminder that disavowing can do more harm than good if not fully confident in your approach. Should you choose to do it alone, downloading the links provided in Google Search Console will likely suffice, even if they’re only showing a small “sampling” of your overall link profile.

Once your link data is obtained, you’ll have to make some decisions on how to analyze your backlinks. Most webmasters take shortcuts, relying on software to tell them how “authoritative” or “toxic” a link might be. This is a quick but dangerous way to compile links for your disavow.  

Although convenient, we do not recommend relying on:

  1. Third-party link metrics from SEO software listing the “authority,” “trust,” or “rating” of your links. These scores better represent a site’s ability to rank itself than its ability to pass link equity (or harm) to you. None of the companies who provide these metrics are Google, Google doesn’t use their data, their scoring is based on their unique & often limited crawl, their data and link values all vary from each other, and they generally don’t consider if a website which links to you has disavowed any of its own links or has been penalized by Google for selling links. Ironically, many penalized sites will receive a high “authority,” “trust score,” or “rating” due to the quantity of their (spammy) backlinks, and these are certainly not sites you’d want a link from!
  1. Blindly pasting any software’s “toxic” or “spam” link list into your disavow. We’ve seen webmasters rely on this all too often, leading to further traffic loss. A third reminder: a disavow can do more harm than good if completed improperly.
  2. Making decisions based on a linking site’s traffic levels. A link can be natural and relevant, even from a town library, local nonprofit, or hobbyist website. These sites likely have low traffic levels since they traditionally don’t rank for large amounts of commercial phrases. However, links from them are still natural & freely given to support your overall link profile. Don’t disavow these!

Instead, ask yourself:

  1. Does the site linking to you appear to be a good resource, put online to provide value to its audience? Is it maintained by someone who has subject-matter expertise or a strong interest in the topic at hand? Are they linking to you in a natural way, as an extension of their own content and compiled resources?  If so, this is likely a great link to have and one you won’t have to worry about causing issues.
  2. What does the linking site’s link neighborhood itself look like? Are the backlinks natural, or do they appear manipulated for SEO purposes?  Are the external links throughout the website there to provide more information about the topic being discussed and consistent with the site’s theme? If the site’s internal & external links pass the smell test, you’re likely safe to exclude this link from your disavow file.
  1. Is the website linking to you filled with varying content and many unrelated external links? Is it a blog you’ve never heard of with articles about everything, always linking out to a commercial website within each article?  Links from sites fitting this pattern are likely in a link network or database, can potentially be harmful to your SEO performance, and were a primary target of Google’s link spam update last summer. You’ll want to consider links from websites fitting this mold for your disavow, especially if they’ve never sent you any direct traffic via someone actually clicking on your link.

Preventative or reactionary analysis & disavow frequency

Like most SEO efforts, staying on top of your link profile is rarely a one & done initiative and more often resembles a game of cat & mouse, depending on the scenario. If your website and its traffic levels are healthy and growing, revisiting your backlink profile can be done on a less frequent basis. Semi-annually or yearly may be appropriate depending on your level of concern.

A preventative disavow may make sense in this situation; if troubles arise, Google is months behind on reconsideration requests, and that’s not a situation you want to find yourself in.  Always remember that links are really hard to get and a primary part of Google’s ranking equation, so being conservative with a disavow here is usually the best approach.

On the other hand, webmasters may find it worthwhile to review their backlinks and update their disavow files more regularly if they’ve been affected by manual action or link-based updates in the past, or they suspect they are being targeted by a negative SEO campaign. More frequent revisions can help ensure you’re ahead of the algorithm when disassociating yourself with links that have the potential to cause issues in the near or long term.  

Slutgiltiga tankar

From its early days a decade ago, Google’s disavow links tool has remained an often misunderstood part of its Search Console for webmasters. From initially being needed solely as a response to 2012’s “Penguin” algorithm rollout and as a way to resolve manual actions, its use cases have evolved for both preventative and reactionary scenarios. Likewise, the way webmasters review their links for a variety of purposes has changed over the past decade. 

Regardless of your need to visit the disavow tool, it’s important to keep in mind how earning natural, trusted links can be one of the biggest SEO growth drivers, directly contributing to traffic and ranking increases over time. Safe & effective link earning reduces risks in your backlink profile and helps avoid the need for disavowing at all. 

About The Author

1643781386 137 To disavow or not Getting it right 10 years later
Internet Marketing Ninjas is a leading digital agency specializing in SEO strategy, link building, content marketing, and site speed optimization. Led by industry veteran Jim Boykin since 1999, IMN’s team of 50 is based in Upstate New York and brings nearly 400 years of combined experience helping their clients improve search rankings and increase organic traffic from Google.


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Digital marketing evolution: New approaches and channels



Digital marketing evolution: New approaches and channels

Marketing evolution has entered a new realm by going digital. And with that, abundant choices for reaching your target audience. What are the latest approaches and channels? Which ones are right for you?

Since 85% of Americans say they are online daily, leveraging the latest digital marketing strategies is worthwhile.

First, let’s recap what digital marketing is and why it’s crucial.

Key takeaways:

  • Digital marketing uses electronic means to connect with buyers to sell a product or service or raise brand awareness.
  • You’re able to reach a wider audience with digital marketing, which means building brand recognition, acquiring more customers and increasing revenue
  • Omnichannel marketing uses various channels and digital platforms to present your brand, product or message. Your message is consistent yet fine-tuned for each channel.
  • Aside from customers feeling valued, personalized experiences build brand trust and promote customer engagement.
  • Micro-influencers tend to hold the highest engagement rates across multiple social media platforms.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing uses electronic means to connect with buyers to sell a product or service or increase brand awareness. This type of marketing occurs regardless of whether the users are online on the Internet. Digital marketing is over 100 years old, beginning with the invention of the radio. Other forms of digital marketing include TV, telephone and digital billboards.

However, online marketing is the most popular form of digital marketing. Online marketing is the simplest way to reach your target audience in the right place and at the right time. Examples of online digital marketing include:

Why digital marketing matters

Digital marketing has many advantages over traditional marketing (e.g., an ad in a newspaper or handing out flyers):

  • You reach a broader audience since the Internet is a global tool. You can, however, filter your audience to your niche market.
  • A larger audience means building brand recognition, acquiring more customers and increasing revenue.
  • Digital marketing is measurable, meaning your campaigns contain metrics that you can use to evaluate which methods are more successful.
  • Digital marketing is also very cost-effective. Some strategies cost nothing (e.g., creating a blog or posting on social media). Also, there’s no paper to print.


Four digital marketing evolution trends

Successful businesses understand that they must meet or exceed the needs and expectations of customers. Therefore, the customer drives marketing evolution. Let’s look at four strategies that are emerging.

1. Omnichannel marketing

Omnichannel marketing uses various channels and digital platforms to present your brand, product or message. Your message is consistent yet fine-tuned for each channel. Whichever way your customers access your business, you’re there.

Omnichannel marketing is an evolution of multichannel marketing, where you make your brand available across multiple channels. Omnichannel marketing takes it further by seamlessly integrating the user experience across all digital channels. This method allows the customer to move from one platform or device to another and not just have a similar interaction but also retain their shopping and purchase history.

To devise an effective omnichannel marketing strategy, you need at least four things:

  • Ensure that your website displays well across all devices, like computers, tablets and smartphones.
  • Consistently present your content across all relevant channels, including your offline ones, like in-store.
  • Customize the call-to-action for the specific channel. For example, an email campaign may require a button click, while a TV ad may need to display a web address.
  • Keep customer data in a central location, facilitating the forward movement of the customer journey.

2. Personalized experiences

Customers want to feel valued by a company, and personalization creates that feeling. For example, if a customer bought laundry detergent from a particular brand, they may like an email reminder with a link to the product on the site when it’s time to replenish. 

Aside from customers feeling valued, personalized experiences build brand trust and promote customer engagement. How can you know your shoppers to create personalized marketing experiences? Here are a few tips:

  • Conduct an opinion poll or a customer survey
  • See what customers are saying on social media about your business
  • Read online customer reviews
  • Trend buyer history

3. Influencer marketing

Why has influencer marketing grown so popular? Consumers see influencers as authentic. Furthermore, people can engage directly with influencers. Many influencers respond to comments and chat with followers. This meaningful connection tends to make influencers held in high regard.

When dipping your toes into this marketing strategy, you may wish to start with a micro-influencer. Micro-influencers are individuals with between 10,000 and 50,000 followers. Micro-influencers tend to have the highest engagement rates across multiple social media platforms.

How do you find and partner with an influencer? Here are some things to try:

  • Understand your target audience. Knowing your customers’ demographics, core values and social media platforms will help you select an appropriate influencer. 
  • Look at your customer base first and see if there is an influencer that uses your product or service.
  • Use the hashtag #sponsored on social media to see a list of influencers.
  • You can contact the influencer with a direct message (DM) on the platform or through email. Propose the campaign along with suitable compensation.

4. Responding to social issues

Following the event of 2020, more than ever, customers need to trust the brands they choose. One survey showed that 50% of individuals would become loyal customers of brands they trust. 

How does a business earn the trust of its customers? The same survey provided further details. Customers look to see:

  • How well the company treats the environment
  • If they use materials and ingredients that are local, sustainable and ethically-acquired
  • How well the company treats its employees
  • How well the brand responded to the COVID-19 pandemic

You may think, “Is this a digital marketing strategy?” The answer is yes because you would advertise your company’s initiatives on your website. For example, the following are excerpts from Nike’s Impact Report on its website.

Digital marketing evolution New approaches and channels


The key to this marketing strategy is to be authentic. You must either back up or follow through on the statements made online.

Taking leaps in the digital marketing evolution with Optimizely

Today’s marketing strategies require innovation, insight and evolution. Optimizely’s digital experience platform (DXP) and the team of experts are here to help you attract and retain customers so your business can grow.


If you’re ready to take your marketing approach to the next level, get started with Optimera i dag.


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Hur man använder WhatsApp som ett effektivt marknadsföringsverktyg



Hur man använder WhatsApp som ett effektivt marknadsföringsverktyg

WhatsApp has become one of the most widely-used messaging apps in the world. With over 2 billion committed users, it has become a platform where people communicate with family, friends, and even the companies they buy from. WhatsApp Business, a version designed solely for businesses, allows companies to communicate with their customers and vendors. In this article, we will show you how you can use WhatsApp Business Accounts as a crucial marketing and customer service tool.

What is WhatsApp Business?

WhatsApp Business is a free messaging app made for business use. It allows companies to have a presence on theWhatsApp business platformand relay messages to their customers.

WhatsApp Business has many useful features for businesses, such as automated messages, quick replies, and labels. This can make communication more efficient and save time for busy companies. It can be especially helpful for small and mid-sized businesses that don’t have the budget for a large marketing and customer service team.

Why use WhatsApp Business?

Using WhatsApp Business can give you a competitive edge. Many of its features are great for businesses. For one, it allows businesses to reach a large audience. With over 2 billion active users, WhatsApp provides a platform where businesses can communicate with their customers on a one-to-one basis. This personalized approach can help businesses build strong relationships with their customers and improve customer satisfaction.

Secondly, WhatsApp Business can improve customer service. By using features such as automated messages and quick replies, businesses can react to customer concerns quickly and efficiently. This can help businesses provide better customer service and increase customer loyalty. It can also be a great tool for sending large file transfers to customers, such as detailed invoices or product information.

Third, WhatsApp Business can be an effective marketing tool. By using features such as broadcast lists and group chats, businesses can reach a large audience with targeted messages. This can help businesses promote their products and services and increase sales. For example, if you are having a big Spring sale, you can send a mass Whatsapp message to all of your followers without worrying about incurring large data fees. You should always be sure to include your WhatsApp contact details on your digital business card so that you can build a following on the app.

How to use WhatsApp Business for marketing and customer service?

The benefits of using WhatsApp Business are clear. Now, let’s learn how to use it effectively for marketing and customer service.

Create a professional profile

The first step is to create a professional profile for your business. Be sure to include your business name, logo, contact info, and description. This will ensure people recognize your business and make it easier for them to contact you. You should feature your WhatsApp on your social media and e-commerce websites so that prospects can easily reach out for more information.

Use automated messages and instant replies

Automated messages and quick replies can be a time-saving, life-saving feature for small and large businesses alike. Automated messages can be set up to greet customers and provide information about your business. Quick replies can even be used to respond to frequently asked questions. This can help businesses provide better customer service and improve response times.

Use labels to organize conversations

Labels can be used to categorize conversations and make it simpler to find specific messages. This can be especially important for businesses that receive a high volume of inquiries. Labels can be used to organize marketing conversations, such as new customers, existing customers, and inquiries. Labels can also be used for customer service-related inquiries, such as a “refund,” “complaint” or “general inquiries” labeled folders.

Use broadcast lists to send targeted messages

Broadcast lists can be utilized to send targeted marketing messages to a wide audience. Businesses can build marketing lists based on customer preferences or interests and send them highly targeted and/or personal messages. This can help businesses promote their products and services and increase sales. It can also help add a personal touch to your business when you can directly send an intimate message – such as a Happy Birthday text – to a single customer.

Use group chats for customer support

Group chats can be used for customer support and provide customers with a platform to ask questions and receive support. Businesses can create groups for specific products or services and provide customers with information and support.

Provide personalized support

Providing personalized support can help businesses build long-lasting relationships with their consumer base. Businesses can use features such as personalized greetings and messages to provide a custom-tailored experience for their customers. This can help businesses improve customer satisfaction and increase brand engagement. You can also use WhatsApp to have customer service phone conversations with your customers by dialing their WhatsApp number.

Use WhatsApp Business API for automation

WhatsApp Business API can be great for automation. It can also save businesses time and optimize response times. It enables businesses to automate messages, set up chatbots, and integrate with other systems. This can aid businesses that aim to provide better customer service and improve response times.


WhatsApp Business can be a vital marketing and customer service tool for businesses. By using features such as automated messages, quick replies, broadcast lists, and group chats, businesses can reach a large audience, and provide better customer service while also saving time and money.


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Hitta nyckelord som du faktiskt kan ranka efter med dessa 4 frågor



Hitta nyckelord som du faktiskt kan ranka efter med dessa 4 frågor

Driving organic traffic from search often requires attaining high Google rankings. Often, I see marketers creating content with that goal but without keeping keyword research in mind. They expend valuable time and effort creating a piece that ultimately falls flat.

Marketers often mistakenly create #content to draw organic traffic without keeping keyword research in mind, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. #SEO Klicka för att tweeta

However, when you target the right keywords for your business, SEO can be one of the most valuable and highest ROI channels. But how do you identify and prioritize the right keywords? A consistent keyword research process can make your job easier.

Answer these four questions to qualify and find keywords that will deliver for your brand.

Is your site deep enough?

Just because a keyword has low competition doesn’t mean your site will easily rank for it. If you have not written much publicly about the subject, you do not have the necessary topical depth authority. In Google’s eyes, your site – even if your business has decades of experience on this topic – still falls into the newbie category.

To break out of newbie status, make sure you have published at least six articles on that same general topic in the last three months.

Gain topical depth authority by publishing at least six articles in the last three months on the general subject, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. #SEO Klicka för att tweeta

Is the keyword really valuable?

Possessing topical authority for a keyword doesn’t necessarily mean you should pursue it. Targeted keywords should relate in some way to your business revenue.

For example, a calendar platform site might rank well for the keyword “time management.” But people who search for that phrase are likely looking for information about the topic. They will read the article on the site, but they won’t convert into customers. (I use this example from my knowledge as an investor in

However, if the calendar platform site ranks for the keyword phrase “alternatives to Calendly” on a listicle or internal page, the readers of this content would be 100% interested in the platform’s business offering and convert much better since they are looking for a solution in the space.

A successful SEO strategy should tie to your company’s offerings for maximum ROI. Otherwise, the content won’t really benefit the business in the long term. Choose keywords that have both your topical depth authority and relevance to revenue.

A targeted keyword for which your business can rank but isn’t likely to convert into revenue is not a smart choice, says @JohnHall via @CMIContent. #SEO Klicka för att tweeta

How authoritative is your site?

While topical depth authority grows in importance to Google rankings, general site popularity remains a factor. Your website’s domain authority (DA) indicates how well your pages are likely to rank for the targeted keywords. Use a tool like Moz domain authority checker, Domain Rating from Ahrefs, eller Authority Score from Semrush. Compare your site’s score to the sites already ranking for your target keywords. If your score isn’t close to their scores, you won’t find it easy to rank for that keyword.

In general, companies with high domain authority scores or ratings will have an easier time ranking for competitive keywords. If you’re a smaller company with a low domain authority, spend your time focusing on lower-volume search terms.

How do you spot content competitors’ weaknesses?

The secret sauce to a winning SEO strategy is capitalizing on the weaknesses and problems you find on the search engine results page. Among the weak signals that could indicate positive opportunities to pursue:

  • Page title misses terms in your target keyword
  • Page word count is less than 1,000 words
  • Page takes more than three seconds to load
  • Page was published over six months ago
  • Page is a forum site such as Quora, Reddit, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn
  • Page’s Moz spam score is above 10%
  • Page reading level is at least ninth grade
  • Page mobile user experience is poor

Find a keyword with a few of these weakness indicators in the results for which your company already has the topical depth and domain authority. Then, you can capitalize on them to create content that delivers better for the audience and the search engine results page.

Putting it all together

It can be helpful to start your keyword search using a tool like Ahrefs to get insights into monthly keyword search volumes and competitor domain authority to get a baseline understanding of ranking difficulty. But you still must evaluate the search results to find weaknesses to capitalize on.

A variety of tools can help in that process. TopicRanker shows how to use the data to make better decisions around keyword research. Enter your website’s URL and a topic relevant to your business expertise. (Avoid using generic keywords.)

In this example, I input as the URL with the keyword “sms for marketing.” The results indicate it has a medium keyword difficulty with a search volume of 18,100. It includes the Moz domain authority for the site along with the missing number of words in the meta title, word count, readability score, load time, and spam score.

1679368005 495 Hitta sökord som du faktiskt kan ranka efter med dessa 4The TopicRanker tool can:

  • Analyze your website and inputted keyword
  • Crawl search results for thousands of keywords related to that topic to find specific weaknesses and problems in the SERP
  • Uncover all the search results where the content does a poor job of helping the reader
  • Suggest keywords your company should be able to rank for (usually between five and 10).
  • Break down the SERP results for each suggested keyword, showing competitor weaknesses on which you can capitalize and create a better piece of content

1679368005 766 Hitta nyckelord som du faktiskt kan ranka efter med dessa 4

Making SEO progress

With so much competition for attention, you can’t simply skapa innehåll based on gut feelings. It requires knowing which questions to ask and, more importantly, which answers will lead to the creation of an effective SEO strategy. Failure to do that means you’ll exhaust resources creating content that doesn’t impact your company’s bottom line. But by following this process, you can create winning content that ranks high and brings customers organically.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.

Vill du ha fler tips, insikter och exempel på innehållsmarknadsföring? Prenumerera till arbetsdags- eller veckomail från CMI.


Omslagsbild av Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute


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