Uh oh. Of all the mistakes to make when moving your site from insecure HTTP to secure HTTPS, forgetting to upload your disavow file is one of the biggest.
Why’s that, exactly? Well, if you forget to upload you’re disavowing file to the new HTTPS site, all those bad links you already disavowed will transfer over. You’re taking all your hard work and flushing it down the drain. All because of one… teensy… little… file.
We at SEO Inc. have inspected hundreds, if not thousands, of backlink profiles over the years. We’ve seen mistakes for just about every problem under the sun. But what about the disavow file that makes it so easy to get lost in the HTTP-to-HTTPS shuffle?
Join us in taking a long, hard look at why the disavow file is so often overlooked and why ignoring it is so irresponsible.
How big is a deal it — really?
Forgetting to upload your disavow file is astounding because it is essential to your website’s success.
Your disavow file is a critical part of link detox. Detoxifying your link profile rids your site of unwanted links — spammy, artificial, or low quality. It’s a painstaking process we have performed hundreds of times, removing 21 manual penalties and many algorithmic penalties. Clients who have benefited from our link detox services have seen their rankings return.
Ultimately, that’s what a link detox is designed to do: restore your rankings. Think about it — you get a bunch of crummy links pointing at your site, and Google slaps you with a penalty. You don’t want your website to be associated with spam, so consider disavowing them.
(Warning!! Indiscriminately disavowing links without completing the required Work could damage your site! Make sure you’re disavowing the worst. Illegitimate links. In a worst-case scenario, contact a professional.)
But if you don’t add your disavow file to your shiny new HTTPS site in Google Search Console, there is no layer of protection between you and all those crummy links you had already disavowed. All of the good and bad linking signals will eventually transfer to the HTTPS site.
When you forget to upload your disavow file, you’re making a lot more Work for yourself during a site move by having to find your most recent disavow file and import it to the new property. But even worse, all those toxic links are now pointing to your new site.
So, forgetting to upload your disavow file is a big deal.
The next question we need to answer is: why does it happen? How do we keep making such a huge mistake?
Moving a Site is a lot of Work.
Too much on your mind — that’s what it all comes down to. When moving from HTTP to HTTPS, you have to juggle many different tasks to make the transition smooth and let’s face it, the disavow area in Google Search Console isn’t the most accessible section.
Google offers a thorough guide on preparing your new site for a move, but we’d like to share some specific mistakes we’ve seen that have led to some bumpy website moves.
We are not implementing 301 permanent redirects from HTTP to HTTPS.
Preserving your links is a high priority when moving your site to HTTPS. If you neglect this, you could end up with a bunch of broken links that will frustrate users and sever valuable sources of precious link juice. 301 redirects ensure that your old links send users (and search engines) toward the right places.
Forgetting to update settings in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is one of the most potent tools a webmaster can wield. But if you don’t update it for your HTTPS property, you’ll miss out on all the data for your new site. When ROI is on the line, that’s a mistake you can’t afford to make.
Failing to update hard-coded links from HTTP to HTTPS.
Old links pointing to the HTTP page that is then redirected to the HTTPS version will lose some link juice or PageRank. Make sure to link to the correct versions. The irony is that everything we’ve mentioned above is usually kept front-of-mind over the disavow file. Is it any wonder that, with so many critical pieces to include, something even as crucial as the disavow file gets forgotten? To help you out, here are a few reminders when moving your site over.
3 Things to Remember When Uploading Your Disavow File
- Set up your new Search Console property. Your new HTTPS site will be separate from the old HTTP version, but the disavow file will be the same. All you’re doing is moving the former disavowed file to the new site so you preserve all the disavowed links.
- Make sure you know what you’re disavowing. If you disavow a link at the domain level (for example, “domain:wordpress.com”), you’ll disavow all the links from that domain. So, if you use the root domain to get rid of a super-spammy link, you’ll get rid of any potentially good, link juice-passing ones, too.
Our advice: Know your domains. Large blogging sites like WordPress and Blogspot that link back to you should be judged page-by-page or subdomain. Dive into the links you find and see if the sites link back to you legitimately or if they deserve to get disavowed.
- Upload it sooner rather than later. You wouldn’t want to get deep into your site move and launch without uploading your disavow file.
Mistakes happen. They’re unavoidable, especially when attempting a huge, multi-step process like moving a site from HTTP to HTTPS. But failing to upload you’re disavow file should not be one of them. Not anymore. There’s too much at stake to forget.
Add a reminder to your smartphone calendar. Write “DISAVOW FILE” on a sticky note and slap it onto your monitor. Heck, print up this blog post and read it every day. Do whatever it takes to remember, so long as you remember.
Just do not forget to upload your disavow file. You’ll thank us later when your new HTTPS site is flourishing with nothing but valuable, carefully curated links.