So here goes. I bought a previously used but already dropped domain some time ago and found out it has some spammy backlinks (around 30k actually) in the form of blog comments with over optimized anchor text. I've already made quite a bit of content on the domain and it's actually ranking decently, so definitely not sandboxed.

So here's my question: Should I try to contact the webmasters for link removal and then go ahead and disavow the links in search console? Why I'm asking this is because I've read somewhere that dropped domain gets all it's previous links disavowed automatically, so I might be doing unnecessary work. Then again I would not want those old backlinks causing negative SEO. I know these kinds of low quality links are a definite no no these days.

So if you have experience with this type of stuff your help would be much appreciated!

Thanks!

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Triblu Premium
Hey Jukka,

In the past, I used to contact all of the link holders... well, as many as I could reach that is... and then set about listing the links as disavow so that my site could recover sooner.

You do not have to provide proof of anything to Google other than a list of URLs you want to disavow. Then you will receive an automated message from Google's server letting you know how long it will be to have those links removed as credible backlinks.

Hope you find this helpful.
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Timotheus Premium
How do you provide Google this list of URLs to disavow, please?
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Triblu Premium
Hey Timotheus,

Here is Google's guide: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2648487?hl=en

Hope you find this helpful
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Timotheus Premium
Thanks so much Trish! :)
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davehayes Premium
If they are spammy then I would get rid, as they will be now associated with you which you won't want
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BlSt Premium
You have specified that the links are spammy.

Well, I have a completely different way of dealing with spammy websites linking to mine, because they clearly have bad faith. From my point of view, those websites that spammed your domain should be disavowed without any respect, and even reported if need be. You don't need to go that extent though. Just trying to say that you don't need permission to clean your backyard, from those who messed it up in the first place.

The procedure could be different for genuine websites linking to your website, not related to your niche for instance, of having a low domain authority. In which case you act like a gentleman and contact respective webmasters, kindly requesting them to take down the links.

If you resort to manually checking out some of those spammy websites, you will discover that most of their servers are unreachable, or just empty pages with errors.

Concerning whether or not you should proceed to disavow links, don't make any assumptions. It's better to make a second submission of links to disavow than to assume that it has already been taken care of.

I couldn't agree less that some bad backlink is very bad business today. Plus there are many more solutions being created out there, to spam websites automatically.

You should have total control of sites linking to you, by being on top of the game and regularly disavowing those who don't deserve any link juice from you.

I hope this helps.
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Jukkah Premium
Thanks for the thorough response! That was my thinking as well, I should be able to just disavow them as I'm not the one who created them.

The problem is that Google demands you first request a link removal and disavowing should be the last step. To make things more complicated I read they sometimes actually audit disavow requests by requiring evidence you contacted the sites first.

I did manually check some of those sites and just like you said some of them will give server timeouts and other are just simply looking really shady. Some are just foreign blogs that are likely forgotten and have automatic comment approval, full of spam links.

I guess I'll just have to trust Google sees there's no point in trying to contact these kinds of sites (even if I could find a contact email) and accepts the disavow domain list straight away.

Thanks again!
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BlSt Premium
Interesting. Does Google request for evidence to prove that these sites have been contacted?
Hmmm...
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BlSt Premium
Please could you provide a source document that explains the need to contact webmasters before disavowing sites?

I've not yet come across it yet. I would be glad to read through the guidelines.
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Jukkah Premium
Can't remember where I saw it originally but here's some (not sure if linking is allowed so I broke the url):

moz(dot)com/blog/google-disavow-tool
"1. Remove First, Disavow Last
Google wants you to remove links first. Disavow is a last resort.

100% accuracy isn’t required, but effort counts.

Google’s Webspam team keeps a historical index of your backlink profile, so that when you file a reconsideration request they can see the links you’ve worked to remove."

quora(dot)com/Has-using-the-Google-disavow-tool-in-Webmaster-Tools-removed-a-penalty-on-your-site
"Yes. BIG Yes. I and my team have lifted Google manual penalties from 275+ sites as of now and for all these sites we have used the disavow tool. For getting a positive response from Google for your reconsideration request, it is a must that you manually try to remove all those links by mailing individual webmasters to remove the links. Document all these efforts in a spreadsheet as an evidence to show Google your good faith effort. Only after manual outreach, you have to upload the disavow file followed by a detailed reconsideration request explaining the efforts you have made to remove all those bad links. If you follow the process perfectly, in 95% of the cases the penalty will be lifted in the first attempt itself. And while compiling disavow file, it is good to use "domain:' operator instead of "http://" operator"

I just realized those scenarios are referring to a manual penalty and reconsideration. Can't find conclusive info on disavowing spammy links BEFORE a penalty.
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BlSt Premium
Google is notorious for leaving room for plenty of doubts. The information you provided was really great. I hope you find something spam related when it comes to using the Disavow Tool

Thank you very much.
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