The Disavow File: To Use or Not To Use?

Disavow File Usage in 2019

Google is always keeping SEO experts on their toes. New updates can render tried-and-true practices obsolete or, at least, leave them up for debate. Exhibit A: the disavow file.

Disavow files allow webmasters to specify which links they want to be excluded when Google’s Penguin algorithm moves through to determine a site’s ranking. The disavow file was essential for excluding blackhat, spam, and paid links that would hurt rankings.

This changed in September 2016, when Google launched its Penguin algorithm update. The company “devalues spam” rather than penalize or demote it. For webmasters, this saved them the need to manage a “bad link” file while benefiting from a real-time, spam-checking algorithm.

Of course, this raised an important question: why still use the disavow file in 2019? Google said it still recommended using the disavow file, though SEO experts weren’t immediately sold. After all, why take the time to flag links if doing so won’t affect rankings?

Yet, we’re talking about Google, and the real answer is never so straightforward. There still are reasons for using a disavow file in 2019 and beyond, including:

  • Manual Actions: Despite Google’s reliance on its sophisticated algorithms, the company also has manual actions teams that review sites. If someone sees a site that’s full of blackhat links, they may take it upon themselves to apply a manual penalty.
  • Other Algorithms: Google’s Gary Illyes said that users can help Google by continuing to use the disavow file. It’s possible that Google has other SEO algorithms that could benefit from the link information included in them.
  • Site Recovery: If a previous site manager used blackhat SEO practices in the past, it may still be worth using your disavow file. This keeps you in the clear in case your site does get chosen for manual review and saves you potential site penalty.

SEO best practices are always adjusting to keep up with Google’s algorithms and other updates. While some things change, we at Sympler still recommend using a disavow file in 2019. If you’re looking to raise your search rankings through SEO, let the experts at Sympler help. Request your free analysis today!

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