Google SEO & Search Engine Marketing Services

Finally! Google Launches a Link Disavow Tool

Well at long last Mr Cutts announces the anticipated link disavow tool at Pubcon:

link disavow tool

This gives webmasters the opportunity to upload a text file through webmaster tools, identifying any toxic links they believe point to their website, it does however come with a few warnings.

- Just because you think a link is toxic doesn’t mean Google aren’t counting it

- Don’t just disavow whole domains, you may have good links on there as well

- Still a lot of uncertainties around how it treats subdomains, blogspot, wordpress etc…

- Complete a full link audit and try and remove links first

Google still recommend removing links before adding them in the disavow tool, and personally I would only use this tool if you feel your search rankings are being negatively affected.

You use the tool by uploading a text file through your webmaster tools account:

To remove a linking page = http://www.example.com/spam-blog-post/

To remove a domain = domain:example.com

Add the above examples on a separate line for each disavowal.

I’d be cautious removing whole domains for the reasons stated above, and would only use the tool if you feel bad links are negatively affecting natural search performance.

Before using the tool I’d suggest a full back link audit, and remember Google treat links put in the disavow tool as nofollow, so if they were adding value you will no doubt lose rankings and traffic.

You can find the tool here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main

And here is a little video from Matt:

For those spam links you just can’t contact, I think this tool can make the difference.

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Author: Tim (254 Articles)

is the owner and editor of SEO wizz and has been involved in the search engine marketing industry for over 9 years. He has worked with multiple businesses across many verticals, creating and implementing search marketing strategies for companies in the UK, US and across Europe. Tim is also the Director of Search at Branded3, a Digital Marketing & SEO Agency based in the UK.

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{ 9 comments }

Robert Kirk October 17, 2012 at 1:19 am

Hi Tim

Whats your general thoughts about this tool then? Penguin wise, how do you think this will work if people been hit by penguin, will google review the links then disavow them, then once next penguin refresh updates chance website may come back slightly if its those links which have caused it to be hit by penguin?

Ian Williams October 17, 2012 at 2:22 am

Hi Tim,

What do you think the chances are of Google using this data to help identify sites that either spam or offer paid links but have so far escaped their algorithm?

Google can be good at identifying dodgy links, but it can’t categorically state whether a link was paid for or not. That requires manual input.

This tool essentially asks, “Hey, where did you buy your links from?” If a particular domain appears in enough disavow requests then I would be very surprised if Google didn’t either:

1. Disavow all outbound links from identified domains/devalue domains linked from identified domains
2. Roll that into Trust Rank – e.g. certain domains that appear legitimate lose Trust Rank
3. Identify new factors on paid-linking sites for a future algorithm update.

Cheers
Ian

Tim October 17, 2012 at 2:33 am

I’m pretty confident that the tool will work as a no follow tool, don’t trust these links. In terms of updating Google will still need to visit these sites, crawl them and neutralise the links, however I think disavowing a link will instigate a crawl. If you have a site with great links, but a number of spam links holding rankings back, I think this tool will work fine, and rankings will be back within a few weeks. If you don’t have any good links, then disavowing them isn’t going to give you the rankings you had last year based on poor links Google struggled to discount.

I think that’s where most people are confused, they ranked last year because their poor links were counting, disavowing them isn’t going to give them rankings, just a clean slate to build on.

I’m confident the tool will work, and negate the need to redirect or start from scratch.

Tim October 17, 2012 at 3:20 am

Hi Ian,

I’m pretty sure if a domain keeps coming up in the disavow tool, it will have some sort of impact on the trust of that site. It may not harm the sites rankings but you can almost guarantee the trust passed through links is going to be affected.

Matthew Woodward October 17, 2012 at 7:08 am

You say Finally! like this tool is a good thing for the SEO community.

All that has happened here is that Google now has a global base of employees working for the webspam team that they don’t have to pay.

Have a read about the darker side of this update and why you should not use the tool (and how to use it for negative seo) http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tips/why-google-disavow-is-bad-news-for-seo/

Jaxom October 22, 2012 at 7:13 pm

Hi Tim,
Thanks for the info and warnings…

Tim October 25, 2012 at 12:58 am

Hi Matthew,

I read your article and although I appreciate the points you make, I don’t think the correct course of action is to ignore this tool. I agree Google has crowd sourced webmasters to clean up the link graph, however I’m not going to lose rankings and money based on an ethical stance against Google.

Firstly, the disavow tool works to remove penalties (I’ll be publishing a post with case studies soon), if I am a business losing money because of a Penguin or unnatural links hit, then I’ll take whatever bone Google are throwing me. Some businesses are losing millions after the updates in the last 18 months and removing links, disavowing spam and filing a reconsideration do work to remove these penalties and filters.

If you were losing millions a year, would you take a chance on the tool? You should, because within weeks your revenue stream will be back.

I appreciate this is a very clever way for Google to recruit spam detectors, but I honestly believe the majority of sites that get reported will be the spam ones. I also, based on some unique insights, believe that the disavow tool will only impact a reported site if it is reported a significant number of times.

Yes, we all hate Google for having so much control, but it’s their search engine, and if you want to benefit you play by their rules.

Post will be live soon.

Fedobe December 26, 2012 at 6:41 am

Hi Tim, I think you have done a great job by posting this type of valuable post. Actually, I did not hear about this tool before, and now I know about this tool after reading your post. I will definitely use this tool to remove all unethical links which are affecting my website ranking and reputation.

The Next Digit September 7, 2013 at 11:43 pm

I’d be cautious removing whole domains for the reasons stated above, and would only use the tool if you feel bad links are negatively affecting natural search performance.
he disavow tool works to remove penalties (I’ll be publishing a post with case studies soon), if I am a business losing money because of a Penguin or unnatural links hit, then I’ll take whatever bone Google are throwing me.
thanks for the post

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