Moz How the Google Disavow Links Tool works

Google Disavow Tool: invalidate harmful links

January 17, 2021

If your website is affected by a manual measure due to unnaturally incoming links, you should take action and carry out a link audit. As many backlinks as possible are collected and evaluated. Unwanted links should start with the Google Disavow Tool be declared invalid. In this SEO post, I describe how to do a Disavow File created to devalue undesired backlinks in order to avert or avoid the manual measure.

Table of Contents

What does: disavow mean?

Anyone who violates the Google guidelines can be punished. This punishment is carried out algorithmically, for example as with the Panda algorithm, or manually by a quality rater from the Google Webspam team. The latter is a manual action. If a domain receives a Manual measure, the website operator is sent via Google Search Console informed. The measure will not be lifted until the causes have been eliminated.

I recommend creating a Google Search Console property for each host.

The Google Disavow Tool Allows every website operator to submit a text file containing links or domains that Google should ignore. These are harmful links that can lead to manual action due to unnaturally incoming links. If the website operator succeeds in invalidating these conspicuous links, a reconsideration request is usually successful.

“Disavow” means the devaluation of harmful links using the Google Disavow Tool.

Does the disavowing of links also work with Penguin?

According to Google, disavowing links is related to the Penguin algorithm not necessary. The webspam algorithm automatically devalues ​​harmful and unnatural backlinks so that no link signals are transmitted and the target page / domain is not damaged. The Google Disavow File so only helps with an existing manual measure due to unnatural links.

How to create a disavow file

The disavow file can be created with a text editor and must be saved as a TXT file. More information:

  • The coding must be UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII.
  • The file only contains link URLs or domains that you want to devalue.
  • Only one link URL or domain may be documented per line.
  • If all links of a domain are to be canceled, the line begins with: domain:
  • Line comments begin with: #


A Google Disavow File could look like this:

# Google Disavow File for
# Devaluate hosts / domains

This is how you submit the text file to Google

  1. Calling the Disavow tool
  2. Selection of the website for which a disavow file has been created.
  3. Click on: "Declare links for invalid."
  4. Click on "Select file", if necessary delete the existing text file beforehand.
  5. Click on "Send", done.

You will then receive an email confirming that the process was successful.

How to find backlinks for your domain

First of all, you should collect as many links as possible: Example links from the Search Console property and links from Majestic, Kerboo, SISTRIX Toolbox, ahrefs, Searchmetrics, XOVI, SEMrush ... If you don't use paid tools, you have at least a rudimentary database with the example links from the Search Console. I recommend ahrefs as the database.

A would be ideal now Link audit perform. The Link Research Tools or the XOVI Disavow Tool are helpful. These tools evaluate the backlinks and you get an overview of the link profile of your website. But I recommend expanding the tools' databases and providing your own data for analysis, especially from the Google Search Console. I also recommend checking links by hand as harmful and unnatural and using common sense to assess whether the backlink is helpful for your visitors or whether you are better off devaluing it. The result of the link audit is a list of link URLs and optional domains that you add to your disavow list and upload to the Google Disavow tool.

This is how you decide whether a link is harmful

Basically, you should go to the linking page and ask yourself whether your website should be linked on this page.

In addition to these "soft" test criteria, I also recommend using off-page metrics. My tip: Rate the linking page / domain with the moz Open Site Explorer. The "Domain Authority "Provides information on how trustworthy the linking domain appears to be, the"Page Authority “Informs about the trustworthiness of the linking HTML page. Through the "moz Spam Score “You get a hint how harmful the backlinks of the linking domain are apparently.

If this data is not enough for you, then I recommend you ahrefs. The SEO tool uses its own link metrics, which are helpful when evaluating a link. ahrefs is state of the art and has the largest link database worldwide. The "Domain Rating" figure shows you how strong the backlink profile of a website is on a scale from 1 to 100. Backlinks from pages with higher DR are usually stronger. The “URL Rating” figure shows how strong a backlink profile of a target URL is on a scale from 1 to 100 (the latter being the strongest). This metric has the highest correlation with Google Rankings, which means that pages with higher UR tend to rank better in organic results.

A link rating can be extensive if the link list is large. However, there is no way around this with an existing measure. If you get the idea to disavow all links that seem dubious at first glance, this weakens the domain unnecessarily. Because once submitted to the Disavow Tool, these links are ignored by Google and positive signals are no longer transmitted. This can lead to deterioration and loss of keyword rankings, which reduces organic traffic.

Tip: In order not to unnecessarily weaken the external link graph of the domain, you should only disavow links that transmit negative signals or appear unnatural.

How often should the disavow file be updated?

Frankly, there is no golden rule for this. I recommend that you evaluate the external link profile of your website at least twice a year and update the disavow file if necessary. Also take a look at the links that have already been canceled, because it is possible that a link-giving page has now been optimized / corrected and the cancellation is no longer necessary.

Finally, two examples from practice:

Google Disavow Tool: invalidate harmful links

Author: Jens Fröhlich

Jens Fröhlich has been active in search engine optimization since 2009. In 2013 he founded the SEO agency Indexlift and publishes news, tips and interesting facts about SEO in this SEO blog. Follow Jens now on Twitter or learn more about his philosophy.
January 17th, 2021 Jens Fröhlich Posted in: SEO General Tags: Backlinks, Disavow, Linkspam, Penguin, Tools