Making Sense of Google’s New Disavow Links Tool

November 28, 2012

Webmasters who’ve had trouble getting rid of bad links can get some help from Google with its new disavow links tool. Below is a brief overview of this new tool, including how to determine if you need to use it.

What Is The Disavow Links Tool?

The disavow links tool is a way for webmasters to tell Google which inbound links they do not want associated with their site. This is important because of the way Google algorithms count links coming in to a site in their ranking algorithms. Since the Penguin launch April 24, 2012, some webmasters saw their site ranking drop because of artificial, bad or low-quality inbound links to their site. Since then, webmasters have been trying to get rid of these bad links as a way to regain their rankings. The problem is, sometimes the site that is linked to yours isn’t responding to removal requests, or willing to get paid to remove the link (I’ve seen reply from webmasters offering to remove the links for $10 – $99). Unfortunately, if none of your attempts work, you’re stuck with the link.

Here is where the Google disavow links tool comes in. By using the tool, webmasters can communicate to Google the links that they cannot get rid of on their own and that they do not want counted towards their site rankings.

Who Needs It?

According to Google, “A typical use case for this tool is if you’ve done link building that violates our quality guidelines. Google has sent you a warning about unnatural links, and despite your best efforts, there are some links that you still can’t get taken down.” It is also a viable tool for sites that are impacted by ‘negative SEO’ or bad link building practices

The important part of the statement above is “despite your best efforts.” Google wants to see a solid effort on your part to remove the links before the disavow tool is ever used. Remember, the disavow links tool is just a request to Google that they ignore those unwanted links coming in. That means Google does not have to honor your request. In fact, there is a chance the company won’t honor disavow requests if the site under question hasn’t tried to remove the bad links on their own first.

So don’t look at this new tool as a quick and easy way to remove unwanted links from your site. It isn’t. It’s exactly what the name says it is, a tool to help you in your efforts to clean up your links.

How Do I Use It?

Using the disavow links tool is actually very simple. Just login to your Webmaster Tools account and click here then select the website for which you want to disavow links. Next, click on the Disavow Links function and upload a text file containing the addresses of all the links you want to disavow.

Screenshot from Official Google webmaster tools blog

A day or so later, submit a reconsideration request and in it mention using the disavow tool. After that you’ll have to wait to see if your rankings are affected. It may take several weeks before you see a change. Just be patient and, in the meantime, keep an eye on those inbound links. Eventually your efforts will pay off.

For more helpful tips on using Google’s disavow links tool, check out this Q&A session with Google’s Matt Cutts.


The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of Revolution Flyers, Inc.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 28th, 2012 at 6:44 am and is filed under SEO/Web Development . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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