The Complete Guide to Using Google’s Disavow Links Tool

In October of 2009, Google released a new online link tool known as The Google Disavow Links Tool. The main purpose of this links tool is to allow a person the ability to locate links that are low quality and ask Google does not consider those pages when it comes to their website’s Page Rank.

By identifying these low quality pages and removing them from consideration in the Page Rank program on Google, you will ultimately have the ability to reduce the amount of spam or useless links that are connected to your website or your web pages.
In case you want to use this tool then you have to identify the bad links first then work on cutting back on them. After noting down the list of links to be disavowed, then Google will give you a choice of links, domains to block. Google’s Disavow tool is used only with links that you have not been able to manually remove.

The Type Of Links That Can Hurt Your Page Ranking


Google does not list your entire domain or even your entire website. Instead, Google will list the individual web pages of your website. The main issue with this is that one page’s low merits when it comes to Page Rank, may end up reducing the merit of the entire website that is associated with it. This is why it is important that you completely understand why a low quality link is, that way you are able to remove them altogether or fix them so they are a much higher quality.

Here are some examples of low quality links:

1. A Contextual Link: A contextual link is a link that you often see in the color blue on passages or words on a website. The links that these clicked words lead to are often irrelevant to the main topic of the page. Typically, these links are generated by special software and can result in a lowered Page Rank or your entire website’s listing being lowered significantly.

2. Paid Links: These are links that you have paid for to have back linked by a third party or a separate company.

3. Automated Links: An automated link is a link that is generated by special web tools. These links are automatically created and may lead to your page linking to another page that has nothing to do with what you are speaking of.

4. Reciprocal Links: This is when you take practice in an excessive amount of link exchanges. Some of these exchanges may be acceptable, but only Google knows what is considered an excessive amount. These kinds of links are often associated with Irrelevant Links.

5. Irrelevant Links: These are links that simply have no relevance to the main topic of the page of your website.

6. Web Spam Links: These are links that lead directly to websites that are considered spamming websites. These are a BIG NO NO when it comes to managing and promoting your website through Page Rank.

7. Articles Low in Quality: If you have links that lead to articles that are poorly written, then you will be hurting your Google Rank in a major way. This is especially true if you pay a small amount of money for a large amount of articles.

8. Comment Spam: If your website features a blog, sometimes automated spamming programs will submit comments on your blog page that will ultimately harm your ranking on Google. You should do your absolute best to make sure that this is moderated as much as possible.

Removing these types of links and spam from your website is very simple to do and it should often be monitored. It should also be noted that this does not just apply to links that are coming out of your website, this holds true for websites that lead to your website as well. Low quality links from other websites that lead to yours will hurt your ranking in a major way. This is when the Google Disavow Links Tool comes in.

When You Should Use The Google Disavow Links Tool?

It is highly recommended that you use the Google Disavow Links Tool as sparingly as possible. It is also very much recommended that you only use it as a last resort. Most of the time, people do not need to use this special tool, and it should not be used often for a home user or a regular business website. This tool was made specifically for power users who know exactly what they are doing.

If you are someone who plans on using this tool, it is recommended that you start with Google Webmaster Tools. The Webmaster Tool will help you get a list of all of your back links on your website. When you have this list of back-links, you will then need to determine whether any of these back-links are harming your website, especially if they are coming from websites that you have absolutely no control over.

You should start off by asking the webmaster of that website to remove the link to your website (Some of these links are already ignored by Google and will not affect the ranking of the website. For example any link that has rel=”no follow”. These will not help or harm your site). And if that does not work, then you can move forward with using the Google Disavow tool. This tool will flag that website and Google will ultimately ignore that website on your behalf.

On the Webmaster Tool homepage, select the site you want, navigate to Traffic > Links to Your Site > Who links the most > More, then click one of the download buttons. This file lists pages that link to your website:


Other Ways to Identify Bad Links

Besides Google Webmaster tool there are many other useful SEO tools and services that you can use for identifying bad backlinks:

SEOMoz Open Site Explorer

opensiteexplorerThis is the most powerful tool that helps you find link data about your websites, your competitor’s websites, which include: sites are discussing and linking to your website, which pages on your site are the most authoritative, finding broken links or redirect links…

Ahrefs Site Explorer

ahrefsAhrefs is a another paid SEO tool that allow you access to all 5 groups of tools: Site Explorer & Backlink Checker; SEO Report; Mentions Tracker; Backlinks Report; Links Batch Analysis. Ahrefs ‘s easy to use and you really don’t need anything else.

Link Research Tools

linkresearchtoolsLink Research Tools help you analyze your backlinks quickly, it can find out which backlinks your site has, analyze the links’ value. It can also check link quality and notify you when a new link to your website appears.

Majestic SEO

majesticseoMajestic SEO is available at variety of price points, including a free registration. It has a very large link database and can help you understand the link profile of your own, as well as competitor.


cognitiveseoThe cognitiveSEO is a great toolset for any blogger with a lot of features and tools: keep you up-to-date on your favorite links with daily monitoring & reporting tool; track your rankings on Google, Bing & Yahoo and compare your rankings to your competitors….

Understanding How A Bad Link Can Be Created In The First Place

So, with that said, how can a bad link even be created in the first place? Well, there are multiple ways that this can happen. It is important that you become familiar with these causes, that way you will not only be able to remove them from your website, but you will be able to prevent similar situations from happening in the future.

1. Sometimes, you will have link on your site that you personally feel relates to your vocation. But if there have been many other webmasters who have disavowed that website, then Google will consider that website you have linked to as a suspicious website. As a result, your website will be hurt because of your connection.

2. There have been instances in which a webmaster has paid money to be placed on a website exchange. As a result sometimes, your website will be listed in between a spamming pharmaceutical company and a pornographic website. (And that is not good.)

3. If your website is a part of a reciprocal linking service that we spoke of earlier, then your website will be a part of ” link pages “. Being associated with link pages can hurt your Google Ranking very much.

4. If you comment on a blog and post a link back to your website as part of the comment, you should make sure that the blog you have posted on has something to do with your website. Otherwise, you may be on the other end of the Disavow service, resulting in your website being affected.

5. And lastly, sometimes webmasters will pay for their website to be linked to by a large amount of websites. Unfortunately, most of them will have nothing to do with their website. As a result, the website ranking will be affected.

It should be stressed again that this Disavow tool WILL NOT remove the link from the website that you have listed. All it will do is exclude that link while Google is making its ranking calculation when an Internet user does a web search. Once you list a website to Disavow, it will usually kick-in in about one week’s time, but it could take much longer to clean your website if your website is disavowed by someone else.

The Cons Of The Disavow Tool

Though this service has many advantages, some feel as though there are some downsides to using this type of service. These cons include the following:

1. Google does not forgive you for your mistakes. According to some critics, Google will not forgive you for the mistakes you have made in regards to bad links on your website. They, apparently, are not big fans of just wiping your slate clean.

2. Disavowing a website is just a suggestion. When you ask for a website to be disavowed, it is not a guarantee that it will actually happen. By asking Google to disavow a website, you are pretty much putting a request, meaning that nothing is guaranteed.

3. If the content of your website is stolen all the time, there is nothing you can do about it. No matter how much work you put into disavowing websites, if the same problem persists, then there is nothing you can really do about it through this program.

4. Sometimes your low ranking has nothing to do with other websites, it has to do with your bad SEO management. A lot of people are quick to place the blame on other websites linking to their website as the reason that their ranking is low, thanks to Google releasing this tool and saying it can solve a lot of problems. Sure, it can help a lot of websites improve, but most of the time, the low ranking will be a result of terrible search engine optimization done by the webmaster.

Overall Summary

This article should not be used as a tutorial to the Google Disavow Links Tool, but it should be used as a way to allow you to rest easy knowing that there is a way for you to take care of another website that is affecting your website. Not knowing this information can lead to tons of headaches and empty emails asking for people to remove your website from theirs. Nobody wants to deal with these headaches, and Google Disavow is helping you as much as it can.

The times are changing when it comes to the various linking strategies that are practiced by various people across the Internet. With the changing times have come changed rules and regulations. It can be said that what was acceptable five years ago, is no longer acceptable in today’s Internet society. Times are changing and in order to become successful through the Internet and drive more traffic to your website, you must be able to move with the times and set your website up for success in every way imaginable. Otherwise, your website will fall through the Internet cracks.

Paid links, auto-commenting, auto blogging, and subscribing to link-building software programs are not acceptable practices when it comes to increasing your Google Rank. In years past, these were acceptable practices, but not anymore. As we mentioned before, badly written article with irrelevant content and bad grammar, along with articles that are created by scrounging around the web will only hurt your page in the long run. If you ever find your website crawling with these types of services and/or articles, you should look into removing or disavowing them as soon as possible. Otherwise, you will be paying the price and no Internet user will be visiting your website.

Over the past couple of years, Google has worked very hard against promoting websites that feature automatically generated content and messages. If you are really looking to increase your rating, going with natural and original articles and website content is your best bet.

The Disavow Tool by Google is just the company’s way of helping you meet as many requirements as possible, but it all ultimately comes down to you and your content and keeping a watchful eye on everything that you put on your website. As we mentioned before, it is highly recommended that you resort to other methods, but if you do decide to use it, then use it sparingly.

In the end, if you want to do good business, then you should go out and do some real marketing! If you want higher rankings, it will take more than just stopping the bad guys.

You have to start being a lot more proactive in your viral marketing techniques. This will help prevent bad websites from linking to your website in the first place. Do not get caught up in the various tools and gadgets that do all of the work for you. Most of the time, they will not work as well as you are hoping.

So make sure that you are not putting all of your eggs in one basket when it comes to improving your website rankings on Google. Stay proactive, keep adding fresh and quality content, and you will be well on your way to having a high ranking website on Google.

26 thoughts on “The Complete Guide to Using Google’s Disavow Links Tool”

  1. Hi Jenni,
    I can surely say that this is one of the best articles about Disavow tool and in fact ample information is provided here about link research tools tool. Extremely useful and a must read. Thanks for the effort in creating this one.

  2. So in essence, you could find a competitor and attack them with negative SEO by sending bad links their way. From my experience, when a penguin release occurs, Google collects more information about the domains linking to you. At this point, they can say “This link should not pass PR because it’s unnatural and from a bad class IP network”.

    The link simply does not count for your own PR anymore. Spending time on the Disavow Tool for me, is a waste of time when I could be aiding in making my website a better experience for our users. I can see you needed to do this if you have been manually flagged by google, but if you receive a automated message from Google claiming about unnatural links, it’s not anything to worry about initially.

    Whoever is doing SEO for you, I would cancel their services.

    1. Yes, Google has already said that Disavow Tool is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can harm your website.

  3. Fianlly google gives user who are doing everything right to protect themselves. You would always hear about competitors firing backlinks to your site to kill your trust. Thank you google!

  4. Disavow Links Tool links really a good method to track our website backlinks and remove to check the health of our website. You have posted a good way to use Disavow Links Tool and it is really helpful for me.

  5. Great article. I never heard before about this Google tool. Also thanks for the list of SEO & backlinks identifier tools. I’ll definitely do some research with this information. Thanks for this, I’ll be back for more.

  6. Hi Jenni,
    Excellent post, it is so informative and useful for me as a newbie blogger I didn’t know before that about this tool. Yes Disallow tool helpful for removing spam from my blog. thanks for sharing this type of information..

  7. Great article. Ahrefs and MajesticSEO are the two I use to identify bad links (MajesticSEO being part of Market Samurai which can help to some extent).

    “Disavowing a website is just a suggestion.” -> If the owner of a website says a link is bad, it shouldn’t be a “suggestion”. It should be fact, IMO. I wasn’t aware it was a suggestion, TBH.

    There is also a growing trend of webmasters doing negative SEO on competitor sites. This could also be an explanation of bad links you have to your site. You should be able to spot these in any of the back link tools mentioned in this article (low quality, auto-approve blogs for example).

  8. Nithin Upendran

    Thanks for sharing.But using this requires care.So i never want to try it.Any thanks again for sharing !

  9. I can say that this is an amazing article on Google Disavow tool. I have researched about this tool a lot, and then came at your blog to learn more about it. However, you have shared a plenty of Link Research information here. Thanks for sharing your golden knowledge.

  10. Thank you! I’ve been trying to cast off some bad links, but finding the right one is like diffusing a bomb. If you cut the wrong wire, the whole thing blows up. Anyway, thanks for the thorough breakdown. Also, pardon my paranoia, but I used strategic anchor text instead of my real name (it’s Dave!) when I made this comment. After the Penguin update, I’m feel like every blog comment could degrade my rank via generic anchor text. Basically, Penguin has made me over-think everything I do on the Internet (also, some things in real life, because Google is most likely watching me). Optimizers, keep your heads on a swivel…

  11. Jenni,
    This is very useful information. I’ve always thought the Google Webmaster Tool allowed you to remove certain links that are either low quality, irrelevant, or bad (404 error) links. Now that I know about the disavow tool, I will look into it further. Thanks so much for the post!

  12. Thanks for such in-depth analysis of the disallow link tool. Finally Google made it possible for webmasters to protect their sites form the links they haven’t made and can’t control (links on outside resources) But I would also warn he newbies from using this tool without full understanding of what you do – you can harm your site by disallowing good relevant link.

  13. Disavow tool is a good tool for identifying the low quality links. So that we can remove that links. But while use thing tool it should be used carefully in proper way otherwise it can cause harm to your website.

  14. Troy@Jay Murphy

    Thank you for this article! I’ve been thinking lately I need to clean up some of the links on my page, this article was exactly the guide I needed to get to work on it. Hope to see a slight boost in page rank soon…

  15. Thanks of the post, i never heard of the Google’s Disavow Links Tool ,
    Its really good blocking unwanted stuffs. Thank you very much for yours Jenni

  16. Great article! Thank you for the tips and advice. I believe that this tool is going to be extremely usefull!

  17. this is the best blog about google disvow link tool i is very useful.Thank you for this article.

  18. well, first it is not an easy task to distinguish between good link and a bad link. Some how spamming link can be identified but how can we know which is good link in eye of google!!

  19. I’ve had a huge amount of spam aimed at my site for the past 5 days, and 2 days ago the ranking for the specific keywords that this spam anchor text was aimed at dropped through the floor.
    My site ranks for around 700 keywords in the top 20, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that it is specifically the 7 that are being used as anchor text in this neg SEO attack (for that is surely what it is) are the only ones to suffer.

    I developed a spreadsheet to parse the huge number of links I’m going to need to disavow more quickly. Looking through many tens of thousands (and growing daily) by hand/eye is simply not going to be possible, at least and still have a business left at the end of it.

    Only issue is, I need to wait for this current attack to stop before I can start, and then hope they don’t do it again the minute I clean up.
    Horrible to think that this is now so easy. Negative SEO has gone from being a possibility with Penguin 1 – Penguin 2 (4) but with 2.1 (5) it is now so simple that the spammers seem to be having a field day.

    Paul Rone-Clarke

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