Our SEO Company Explains the Google Disavow Tool

November 21, 2014
by Conor Treacy
  • How To Use The Google Disavow Links Tool

Here at Big Red SEO, we know how stressful it can be to realize that your business website has been hit with a Google penalty or been affected by an algorithm update like Penguin. The important thing to remember in times like these is that even though your rankings have fallen, there are things you can do to climb back up. If your previous SEO company used black hat techniques (e.g., creating thousands of spammy backlinks to your site) in order to get your site ranked higher, it’s time to reverse course. Luckily, Google has provided a tool that makes this possible: the Disavow Tool.

What’s Google’s Disavow Tool and How Does It Work?

You need to use Google’s Disavow Tool when your site accrues poor-quality backlinks. While having high-quality backlinks pointing to your website helps your SEO, poor-quality links can do real damage to your rankings. If your website has been hit with a manual penalty from Google because of a spammy backlink profile, or you’ve suffered in the rankings due to a Penguin algorithm update, using the Disavow Tool can help you.

Google’s Disavow Tool can be used to sever the connection between a spam link and your website. Using the Disavow Tool doesn’t remove the bad link, but it does tell Google that you don’t want that link to be associated with your website.

When You Should Use the Disavow Tool

As a white hat SEO company, our team at Big Red SEO agree with Google that you should make every attempt possible to remove bad links when you find them. In the event that removing a bad link isn’t possible (for instance, if the webmaster of the site where the offending link resides doesn’t respond to your removal requests), then you should use the Disavow Tool to tell Google that you don’t approve of the link and don’t want it associated with your website.

While we’re talking about individual links here, the truth is, businesses often have to deal with thousands of spammy links, so the process of removing or disavowing links is by no means easy. One thing that helps is your ability to disavow all the links that come from a particular domain at once–if you find yourself swamped with tons of bad links all coming from the same domain, you can disavow the entire domain instead of picking through the links individually.

SEO Tip: Unless you’re absolutely sure that you don’t want any of the links that are coming to your website from a particular domain, it’s better to go through links individually. Otherwise you might end up disavowing good links along with the bad!

What Does a Disavow File Look Like?

Now that you know why you should use the Disavow Tool, you need to know what a disavow file looks like so that you can upload one to Google. Creating a disavow file is actually pretty simple–the first step is opening a text file (with Notepad), and writing in it every URL in which a bad link appears, with only one URL per line. So, if you have a bad link coming from “example.com,” you would write the exact URL where the link appears in your disavow file, which would look something like this:

domain:spammyguy.com
#owner of spamdomain.com removed all links except these two
http://www.spamdomain.com/badfile1.php
http://www.example.com/badlinkpage.html

In our example above, we are requesting that anything on the “spammyguy.com” domain be ignored. We also have individual URLs that we would like to have ignored, but the rest of the domain name is acceptable. You’ll also notice that on the second line we placed a comment. Any line that starts with a pound sign (#) is ignored. There are no penalties from Google if you duplicate a URL or two, but be aware that there is a maximum file size of 2MB on the disavow file.

Our SEO company wants to stress here that Google doesn’t consider disavow requests unless suitable effort has been invested on your part in getting the links taken down. That means that you’ve tried to contact the webmaster of “example.com” multiple times with requests to have the link taken down, but you haven’t received a reply. The Google Disavow Tool is only to be used in these extreme circumstances, so if you upload a disavow file with thousands of bad links and no evidence of your efforts to get them taken down yourself, then using the Disavow Tool might have no effect for you.

Once you’ve created your disavow file, simply go to the Disavow Links Tool in Google Webmaster Tools, choose the domain that you want to disavow links on, and upload your file. If you’re in charge of multiple domains that all have a number of spammy backlinks that you haven’t had luck in removing yourself, you’ll need to upload separate disavow file for each of them. For more information on the Disavow Tool, you can check out this blog post at Google Webmaster Central also.

Contact Our SEO Company Today at (402) 522-6468!

At Big Red SEO, we understand that the process of removing or disavowing bad links can be difficult and time-consuming, especially when you’re trying to run a small to medium-sized business. When you don’t have enough time in the day to worry about search engine optimization, our SEO company can help! We take the time to help you understand what we do to help your business’ online presence, so give us a call today at (402) 522-6468 or fill out our online contact form to request a free basic website audit!

Conor Treacy

About

Conor Treacy has been in the SEO game since the mid-90's when SEO hadn't yet come into full fruition. He spends most of his days performing website audits, reading and writing SEO blogs and industry related material. The rest of his time is consumed with correcting people on their invalid and blackhat ways. The SEO world has changed in recent years, there's a lot of disinformation on the web!