Search Marketing Myths, Part 4: Disavowing Backlinks | Varn


29 August 2017

Common Search Marketing Myths – Part 4: Disavowing Backlinks, Outbound Links and Ads Bidding

Disavowing Backlinks is a Waste of Time

If you’re not familiar with Google’s Disavow Tool (within Google Search Console), then you may not know its purpose. The primary role of this tool is to allow webmasters to submit a list of any low-quality links they have pointing to a website, which they believe are harming their website rankings. Submitting these links via the disavow tool helps inform Google that you’d like the links to be disregarded when search bots are accessing / crawling your website. So, if you have a number of low-quality backlinks pointed at your site which may be doing more damage than good, you can simply request that they are ignored by the search engine.

Seems relatively simple, right? Unfortunately, all is not as it seems. Whilst the Disavow function within Google is arguably the best automated way to request that damaging backlinks are disregarded, it’s not a guarantee. If you really want backlinks to be blocked from having a negative effect on your website, you need to ensure that the link is removed in its entirety from the website where it originates. Hence the argument that this tool is possibly a waste of time for anyone using it. Surely, if we should be manually removing links in order to ensure they have no impact on websites, this negates the need for disavowing links?

Wrong. We would argue that this is not the case. Successful, ‘white hat’ SEO is all about thorough research and a lot of effort – amongst many other things. Regular research should ideally be carried out into your backlink profile, and potentially damaging links should be removed immediately. But that’s not always possible; the backlink in question could be placed within an inaccessible site or one with an owner / webmaster who is AWOL. They could simply refuse to remove the link, or you could have such a large volume of these links that it’s going to take a very long time to request that they’re all manually removed. This is where the disavow tool performs best – it helps tackle those stubborn links which we’re not immediately able to remove. And whilst Google has stated that links submitted to the tool won’t always be disregarded, there’s a good chance that they will be.

Here at Varn, we’ve used this tool many times where manual backlink removal was impossible or delayed, with a lot of success. Of course, we would recommend removing backlinks manually and using the disavow tool as a reinforcement / back-up, but isn’t that what good SEO is all about? If we all relied on tools alone, we wouldn’t have the experience or the knowledge that we do within the search marketing industry. To find out more about our experience and services available, or for additional information on the importance of an optimised backlink profile, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Outbound Links Have a Negative Impact on SEO

The chances are that if you have a website, somewhere within that site you have at least one link pointing to another, external site. Whether you’re crediting a source, providing visitors with additional resources or just sharing something fun, linking to other sites is a natural part of creating a successful website. However, there are several myths floating around within the world of SEO regarding outbound links – including the beliefs that these links naturally have a negative impact on Search Engine Optimisation and associated rankings, and that they only take traffic away from your website. But this isn’t necessarily true.

Obviously, by linking to external sites, you’re providing visitors with a clear exit. You run the risk that they’ll no longer stay on your site or ever return, once they’ve been sent elsewhere. So, is it worth it? As long as your content is useful, original and high quality, your visitors are much more likely to come back. And the potential benefits of linking to external sites can outweigh that risk… as long as they’re quality sites. We all strive to gain backlinks from high authority sites which rank well within Google, but few people actually consider the benefits of linking TO these sites.

Whilst Google haven’t explicitly confirmed a correlation between high quality outbound links and organic rankings, these links do appear to have a positive impact on overall SEO for a number of reasons. For example, search engines do tend to prefer websites which they deem more relevant to a particular subject than others. By creating pages or content with external links to relevant, high authority sites, you’re providing additional, useful information to visitors and search bots alike. This in turn improves the site’s relevance, value from a user standpoint and reputation; all of which help aid your overall SEO.

Similar to most areas of search marketing, it’s important to strike a good balance between technical elements of SEO such as adding in backlinks to high authority sites, and providing useful content to your visitors. For more information on how to improve your external or internal linking, contact our SEO team.

There’s No Need to Bid on Brand Related Keywords in Google Ads

When it comes to Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords), there’s one area many people are still unsure of – bidding on your own brand keywords. A common misconception within this subject is that most brands are likely to rank top for their own brand name within organic search (with exception), so why pay for ads to get PPC traffic that they could get for free? Many of the clients we have worked with in the past have been reluctant to do so, for that very reason. However, there are several factors you should take into consideration when deciding whether or not to bid on keywords related to your own brand.

Firstly, you certainly don’t want your competition ranking within the top PPC listings for your brand name when your website is lower down within organic results. Whilst there are rules and restrictions in place to stop companies impersonating you within paid ads, there’s nothing to stop them from bidding on keywords related to your brand, and ranking above you. Secondly, there’s your quality score and click-through rate. Ranking well within paid search will help improve your quality score and CTR, which in turn can have a very positive impact on the cost-per-click of your entire account – non-brand related keywords included.

This can also help with Ad Extensions… these normally appear on brand keywords before starting to show on your non-branded keywords. So, having high ranking branded keywords showing within paid search can help build a positive ad extension profile within Google, thus making these extensions more likely to show on your non-brand related keywords. There are also numerous other reasons to stay on top of Google Ads search results from a brand perspective – including promoting brand awareness, having additional room within search to promote yourself and your brand name, the ability to test brand related keywords within PPC before rolling them out to organic listings and many more.

For expert advice on Google Ads listings – brand or non-brand related – from AdWords qualified professionals and Google Partners, get in touch with Varn today.


That brings us to the end of another mythical blog – we hope you found this information useful! If you have any questions regarding the topics listed above or would like more information on anything else search marketing related, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’d also love to hear your thoughts regarding Search Marketing myths for upcoming blogs within this series! Remember to take a peek at our previous myth-busting posts: Part 1: Exact Match Domains, Backlinks and Google / Part 2: Meta Tags, H1 Headings and Google AdWords / Part 3: Ongoing SEO, Website Hosting and Mobile Optimisation.

See you next time!

Article by: Aimee, Head of Innovation More articles by Aimee

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