What Happens If You Disavow the Wrong Link?

What Happens If You Disavow the Wrong Link?

Recently Glenn Gabe authored an interesting piece on the dangers of the disavow tool. Disavow is a tool that Google offers so you can disclaim low quality links pointing to your site—essentially calling “not it” and getting your penalty removed.

That tool is extremely useful if you cultivated less-than-great links in the distant past or if your competitors try to undermine your SEO by pointing spam your way. But Glenn warns that it can also go horribly awry: website owners who aren’t careful could cast away high value links, or even close the door on good links in the future. That’s a major blow to your search ranking.

I was surprised, however, that Glenn didn’t address what to do if this happens to you. Can you “re-avow” a link you mistakenly disavowed? The answer is yes—and it’s not that hard.

A Rarity

What Happens If You Disavow the Wrong Link?

First off, this situation should be rare. In fact, unlike Glenn I would recommend erring toward disavowing too many links rather than too few. It’s rare that ditching a couple good links will hurt you, but even one or two particularly stinky ones can earn a penalty.

There’s one circumstance where re-avowal makes sense, however. Let’s say that last year you got a link from a spammy comment on a major website. It seemed suspicious, so you disavowed it—but you disavowed it at the domain level.

In other words, instead of disavowing domain.com/post-title/#comment=239985 you disavowed domain.com. That’s a big mistake.

The reason is that not everything that ever comes from that domain is necessarily spam. If “domain.com” is, say, “huffpost.com” you could even get some real high-value links in the future. But once you’ve disavowed the whole domain, none of them will help you.

That’s when it’s time to re-avow.

How to Reclaim a Link

The process itself is surprisingly simple. When you originally disavowed, you did so by making a list of all problem links and uploading it to Google. (Complete instructions to create and upload that list are here.)

To get back one of those links, just open up your list, remove the link you want to re-avow, and re-upload it. It’s that easy.

Knowing which links to reclaim, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. As a general rule, never disavow at the domain level unless an entire site is thoroughly spammy. If you have 1100 links from a Russian web directory, that’s a good time to disavow the whole domain. Otherwise, list links one by one.

One final word of warning: just as you should think carefully before disavowing a link, you should be even more careful about taking it back. That’s because Google does not look kindly on repeat offenders. If the link you re-avow really was a bad egg, it will be much much harder to get your penalty removed the second time around.

If you want your SEO to run smoothly without managing all these links yourself, we can help. Call EverSpark for your free consultation today.