Over the years, Google has undergone significant AI server updates when it comes to search rankings and backlink density.
Back in the days of the Panda update, going back to 2014/2016, we saw substantial shifts in rankings when it came to toxic backlinks.
Toxic backlinks were considered backlinks with low density in terms of Domain Authority (DA) or related to spammy topics such as adult content or gambling.
In the last few years, Google has undertaken many tasks to improve this feature. Website owners, web developers, and even bloggers have been targeted by spam websites, competitors, or random individuals attempting to de-rank their websites from search engine results pages (SERPs) and Google rankings.
It’s now true that the best practice is to simply ignore the disavow tool and any toxic backlinks, as Google disregards them and they no longer have significant ranking factors. Google focuses more on website authority, social scores, and popularity, as well as factors such as bounce rates, audience interaction, website speed, core web vitals, and many others when determining rankings. In fact, using the Google Disavow tool has shown a significant drop in rankings and search engine results page (SERP) rankings.
Our Toxic Backlinks Experiment:
Back in 2020, one of our blogs experienced a high density of toxic backlinks. In order to address this issue, we decided to take a significant gamble and conduct an experimental test. We used SEMrush’s backlink tools to disavow all links coming from nudity, gambling, and spammy websites with high toxic spam scores.
In total, we disavowed approximately 150 backlinks that had a toxicity score of over 70 according to SEMrush’s algorithm. These backlinks were deemed highly toxic and provided no value to our website.
To our surprise, enabling the disavowal of these 150 toxic backlinks had a detrimental effect on our traffic. It significantly impacted our website’s performance.
We also run the experiment on another website where we disavowed toxic backlinks and also had the same results, check out the image below.
As you can see above, disavowing the toxic backlinks and instructing Google to ignore them had a negative impact on our websites. However, removing the disavowed backlinks and simply leaving them alone has a positive impact.
Conclusion and Experiment Results
Based on this experiment, it is evident that leaving the toxic backlinks untouched in the Google Search Console has beneficial effects.
In addition, we have noticed a significant increase in the number of .blogspot backlinks appearing in the SERP’s database over the past few months. Despite having a Domain Authority (DA) of “0,” we discovered that these backlinks do not impact our website’s rankings in any way.
Therefore, it is advisable to disregard toxic backlinks and instead focus on EAT (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) scores and web core vitals.