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Should You Disavow Links From Spammy Yet High Authority Sites?

Sites with high DA do not necessarily mean they are high quality. Learn what to consider when deciding whether to disavow links.

Should You Disavow Links From Spammy Yet High Authority Sites?

Today’s Ask an SEO question comes from David in Craughwell, Ireland, who asks:

“When checking my and my competitor backlink profiles, I come across many links from firebaseapp.com and web.app domains.

These domains have high DA but the pages are very often spammy and low quality. It is my instinct to disavow these links but due to the high DA I am unsure how to proceed.

Do you have any advice, please, for when an SEO encounters awful links from high DA domains?”

Hi David,

Great question! The first thing to think about is that Domain Authority (DA) does not come from Google and is not a credible metric.

How Does Domain Authority Factor Into Your Link Disavowal Strategy?

DA is a calculation devised by a popular SEO tool and used by that tool only (not Google) to evaluate a website.

If you trust that tool, then you can use the metric as a way to begin looking at a domain or a specific webpage and whether a backlink may have some value.

But I personally wouldn’t let a high DA sway me in one direction or another. There are a ton of high authority domains you likely don’t want a backlink from.

Porn sites and gambling sites may have a ton of domain authority and content that gets a lot of engagement, but that doesn’t mean a backlink could be good for you (unless you’re in those niches).

I found links to a fashion site I work on from porn sites with high DA in their cosplay section and we disavowed because we don’t want the association, even though the link was natural and benefited the end user.

So What Should We Be Looking At?

The more important thing to look at is how Google will see that link.

Ask yourself why that site is linking to you – does your company sells something relevant to the topic of the website, the topic of the category, or the content within the page?

If you sell something unrelated like plumbing supplies or service alarm systems, Google will probably question why you have links from this site.

They will either ignore the link or potentially devalue your site as it may appear you’re building spammy links.

If this high DA site or series of sites has a ton of outbound links, there is a reasonable chance Google knows it is part of a farm and will likely ignore the link on its own.

If you’re worried about these links, you can always add them to your disavow sheet if it makes you feel more comfortable. Disavowing only takes a second and having peace of mind can last a long time.

That’s why I still do it for my clients.

For your app-specific questions: If you’re seeing this as an attack on your website, or it is a developer who is a fan of your brand and decided to link to you from all their apps or sites, you can leave it alone.

It’s likely they’re linking to all of your competitors, too, or your website is contextually relevant to the topic of the website.

If you do decide to trust a tool’s metric (all of them have their own) then I would pull a report of the specific URL linking to you (not the base domain) and look to see what the score is for that page.

If the score is good and the content makes sense, I would keep the link. If it is clearly spam and not topically relevant I would consider disavowing the page or the entire domain to save time.

You can go a step further and pull similar reports for your top three competitors in Google search to see if they have similar backlinks. If they do then you may be in the clear as everyone in your space has the same issues.

In this situation focus on things in your control like on-page SEO with your content, page structure, schema, internal links, speed, and UX.

Do You Really Need To Worry About Disavowing Links?

Google has gotten a lot better about detecting good and quality backlinks while ignoring spammy backlinks, including high DA sites.

If the links are clearly not natural and only pointing at your site, go for the disavow and do domain-wide.

Again, peace of mind is something that can have a positive impact on your business and your personal life, so taking a couple of seconds to add the URL to your disavow file and upload is absolutely worth it – but only if you are sure it is a spammy link and from an irrelevant site/page/source.

I hope this answers your question and thank you for asking it.

These subjective questions are always more fun to tackle – you made my day!  =0)

More Resources:


Editor’s note: Ask an SEO is a weekly SEO advice column written by some of the industry’s top SEO experts, who have been hand-picked by Search Engine Journal. Got a question about SEO? Fill out our form. You might see your answer in the next #AskanSEO post!


Featured image: fatmawati achmad zaenuri/Shutterstock

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Adam Riemer

Adam Riemer is a long time online marketing veteran. With more than 10 years of experience in SEO, Ethical Affiliate ... [Read full bio]

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