I know I should be actively removing or disavowing backlinks that are SEO-toxic for my websites, but Google Webmasters doesn’t make it easy (enough for me). The moment I connected my Gmail account and my Google Analytics account to my SEMRush account, the sky cleared, the sun shined, and the rain bowed.
While you can’t directly disavow irrelevant or toxic backlinks from the SEMRush Backlink Audit tool, you can prepare everything simply and easily–and sometimes interestingly and amusingly–directly via the SEMRush dashboard, choosing Remove, Disavow, or Whitelist for each backlink, via Domain or Link, either en masse in bulk or one-by-one.
Once you initiate a Backlink Audit project for your domain, the SEMRush spiders and bots buzz around the internet, checking out each and every incoming link that connects to your site. I am using my own site, Chris Abraham, chrisabraham.com, for this article.
It’s an old site that I have been running in different iterations since 1999. As a result, I was an academic, memeticist, poet, IT guy, Linux SA, a programmer, a technologist, a marketer, a PR guy, social media marketer, entrepreneur, traveler, and small business owner over a bunch of platforms from Greymatter to Pyra Labs Blogger; from Zope to Plone; from Six Apart Movabletype to WordPress; and from Squarespace back to Zope/Plone again.
Each and every time the platform changed, links broke. My current Plone install is pretty smart and tries to connect 404s to content pages. Sadly, I am still trying to dig through Archive.org–the Wayback Machine–to recover a lot of lost content. There are too many broken links and garbage backlinks that my site and I have accrued over the last 18-years.
Toxic and irrelevant backlinks don’t kill you right away, they’re sort of like off-roading in the mud. You can ride in the mud for a little while pretty nicely. Patches of mud–even wet mud–can be fine as long as there are some dry patches to allow that mud to dry and fling off; however, if you end up in deep mud for long periods of time, everything gets gunked up sooner or later–eventually getting you stuck, pretty literally, in Google’s quicksand.
SEMRush makes this pretty easy.
By the time I decided to blog about this, all my toxic links were gone. I got rid of them en masse without going through each of them. I probably disavowed some good ones. But I just wanted to get it all out of the way. Now I know that you can review each and every page to see what the reference is and to see if you want to decide to Remove or Whitelist the link instead of Disavowing. Actually, I just connected my corporate Google Email account to SEMRush (I’m very trusting) so that I can automatically send out email requests to please remove their link to me. I might try it. Probably not. But it’s there.
After you’ve gone through everything, though, labeling all the inbound links as White-listed or Disavowed, you still need to export the list and then import that URL/domain list directly into the Disavow Links section of the Google Search Console. If you don’t take that extra step, you’ll just be playing solitaire on SEMRush.
Even though I have connected Google Analytics with SEMRush, it doesn’t mean that making disavow changes on SEMRush automagically does it on Google Webmasters–I wish it could!–but it’s pretty easy and SEMRush check to make sure you actually follow-through with the upload.
It’s as good as it could be without direct integration (but if you’re not careful, you might do all the hard toxic backlink-disavowing word and then not actually make it so by exporting out of SEMRush and then importing into Google Webmaster Tools.
Now that I have disavowed/killed all the incoming backlinks that SEMRush believes are toxic, I can then take some time to go back and look through them to make sure; also, once I discovered that I can review each incoming backlink page-by-page and see how the link looks on the remote site, I feel so nostalgic.
I am actually finding lots of links to my old life ChrisAbraham.com–Because the Medium is the Message–site that I had never seen before. It’s actually a lot of fun! It’s like looking through old family photos!
SEMRush has made something super-easy–something that I had been avoiding doing for the last ten years.
Google makes it really hard to search out toxic inbound backlinks–at least to me–and SEMRush makes all of this seem like a simple and fun and compelling game–and in context compared to all the other stuff that’s going on with my Chris Abraham Online website.