Google’s Disavow Tool:What It Is, When To Use, And How To Use

Google's Disavow Tool
Reading Time: 6 minutes

While building a strong website, backlinks are one of the most important factors to give prominence to. However, it’s their quality that matters! Just like other links, a backlink is too categorized into “good” and “bad” backlinks.

While the former category includes links that are organic and what Google is aspiring for, the “bad” backlinks are those inorganic links originating from malicious and ultra-spammy sites that Google just hates!

Thus, you must ensure that only “good” backlinks are pointing to your website otherwise Google won’t rank you higher in case there’s any “bad” backlink. Now, at times, you don’t have control over the type of backlink pointing to your website and while analyzing your website, the crawlers will take into account all backlinks present on your site.

Luckily, through the Google’s Disavow Tool, you can submit a report and request Google to ignore certain backlinks while analyzing your website you believe to be “bad” or low-quality links and competent to negatively affect your SEO score & rankings.

If you’re new to this tool, here’s everything you must know regarding Google’s Disavow Tool.

What Is The Disavow Tool?

As stated above, a Google’s Disavow Tool lets you ask Google to avoid low-quality and “bad” backlinks to your website as a ranking factor.

To do so, you’ve to submit a report (called a disavow file) mentioning all the links you want Google to avoid. While the search engine has no obligation to accept your request, if it does, it won’t use those backlinks to rank your website in the SERPs.

This doesn’t mean you’d use this SEO tool on a whim. Instead, Google Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller reckons that the disavow tool is something you must look to use in really extreme cases.

 While in some cases, you might get highly benefited from the tool, in other scenarios, the story could uncover differently! Thus, you need to understand when to really use this disavow tool for the best and positive results.

When To Use The Disavow Tool?

Since unjust use of the tool can impact your search results rankings, you need to be careful while using it. Below are some instances of when disavowing links is recommended or needed.

1.  Manual penalty due to unfair link building practices

 This is an absolute case of disavowing links. If your site has been hit with a manual penalty owing to unfair link-building practices, you’d look forward to disavowing the links accountable for this.

You’ll be notified via the Google Search Console for such manual actions on your website if your site’s connected to the Search Console and preferably, it should be!

As the next step, begin analyzing the backlinks in the Search Console and list out all the links which seem to violate Google’s guidelines. For the links found violating the guidelines, you can either get them removed by the owner’s side and if this doesn’t work, disavow those links.

Once you’ve removed all those links, select the Request Review option in your Manual actions report to ask them to remove the action/penalty shown below.

2.  Link Scheme

Another category of links to disavow is the link scheme. These are the links intended to manipulate a site’s rankings in the search results. These links may be private blog network links or guest posts on sites of no relevance to your niche or readers.

3.  Backlinks from the comments on other blogs

Adding a keyword-rich anchor text in the comments on other blogs is another very old tactic of acquiring backlinks. This, however, is of no use and is eligible for the disavow file if you can’t get them changed or removed later as and when required.

Now that you know when to disavow backlinks, below are some ways to retrieve as many backlinks as you can and analyze them.

How To Find Backlinks?

For a detailed analysis of all the backlinks on your website, here are some ways or tools you can use.

1.    Google Search Console

The Google Search Console is one of the best ways to find all the backlinks to your website. To do so, head to the links section, click on the export external links button, and then on the more sample links option. As a result, the tool will present you with all the backlinks pointing to your site for analysis.

2.    Tools like Semrush, Ahrefs, or Moz

You can also use any of these tools to export the list of backlinks to your site and either merge it with GSC for analysis or separately analyze the list within the tool itself.

3. Link Audit Tool

Since you’ve to be very careful while disavowing any backlink, you’d use a link audit tool to understand whether a link needs to be disavowed or not.

Out of all tools in the market, I prefer to go with Semrush’s backlink audit tool. It’s the simplest of all and lets you work directly from the dashboard. Further, it gives the backlinks a toxicity score depending upon several factors.

As a thumb rule, the higher the toxicity score of a backlink, the better to disavow it.

Once you’re done with the link reviewing part, you can download the formatted disavow “.txt file” and submit it to the tool.

So, these are the top three ways to find the links to disavow for a better SEO score.

How To Use The Disavow Tool?

Here you’ll learn to use the disavow tool properly and upload the disavow file to the Google Search Console (GSC).

Creating The Disavow File

You must adhere to the following disavow file creating guidelines from Google.

  • The file’s name must end with .txt
  • The file shouldn’t be more than 2MB and longer than 100,000 lines
  • Each URL should have its line
  • To disavow a whole domain, you’d begin the line with domain:
  • To disavow a URL, you can just enter the URL

The below screenshot depicts an ideal disavow file format adhering to the above guidelines.

Pro Tip: Test your disavow tool before uploading it to the GSC on this disavow file testing tool. Its developer, Fili Wiese, was a former Google engineer.

Uploading The Final Disavow File To The GSC

Once completed and tested for accuracy, it’s time to upload the disavow file to the GSC, and here’s how to do it.

As you can see, there’s a replace option at the bottom. If you’d uploaded a previous disavow file, the latest uploaded file will override it. Further, in case of issues, the GSC will notify you about all issues and help you upload the correct file.

While the entire process at your end won’t take much time, the same is slightly time-consuming at the other end. So, have patience while Google analyzes your disavow file and comes up with the results.

Lastly, there is no such indication of whether the disavow file is serving its purpose or not. Still, keep a close eye on your site’s online rankings, organic traffic, and impressions to understand the above.

The Final Takeaway!

When you’re aspiring for higher search engine rankings for your website, you can’t ignore the fact that backlinks are an important factor to consider. While there are several ways to acquire backlinks organically and lure the search engines, there are several other “unethical” ways of doing so.

The latter, of course, negatively affects your rankings and thus, should be ignored by the search engine if you can’t remove them from your site. For this, Google came up with its link disavow tool that lets you ask/request Google to ignore the backlinks you heed can harm your SEO score or site rankings.

However, remember that disavowing links shouldn’t be done on a whim and you must do it the right way. To fulfill exactly this, I decided to prepare this article for you to enlighten you about this SEO tool by Google. Google’s Disavow Tool

Divyanshu is an engineer, digital marketer, and prolific content writer. At WebPreneurs, he authors in-depth articles to help business owners manage & scale their businesses in a streamlined manner. He loves playing with technology and that's what constitutes his free time.

Divyanshu is an engineer, digital marketer, and prolific content writer. At WebPreneurs, he authors in-depth articles to help business owners manage & scale their businesses in a streamlined manner. He loves playing with technology and that's what constitutes his free time.

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