Google Disavow Tool | The Definitive Guide

seo-phoenix-azAll about link building agency best practices for using the disavowal tool in Google Webmaster Tools.  Of course to repair a Google penalty.

Matt Cutts had announced in June, the tool is now available to all: you can list all Google web pages that link to your site and you want Google to ignore. Please read this tutorial before “disown” backlinks!

File updated  with multiple details (utility of nofollow links disavowal, use assumed data collected by Google to penalize sites whose links are often disowned, how to cancel the disavowal of a link in particular, remain in Google Webmaster Tools links yet disowned …)

As you will understand by reading this file, the use of this disavowal of backlinks tool is quite controversial. Many SEOs believe that this tool should not exist and that it is not for SEOs and webmasters to make this work, but Google to simply ignore the links which it considers contrary to its quality guidelines.

However, there are cases where it may be worth testing this tool. By cons, you better be aware that it is handled with care: misused, it can harm your high visibility in Google.

If you are afraid to make mistakes, it is probably more prudent not to use or to use SEO experts. If you need my help, please contact me for a quote.
Reminder of the problem

Since the Penguin algorithm that Google has released in April 2012, and even since the end of 2011 when Google began sending warning messages on the presence of artificial backlinks, you know that Google may penalize your site if it considers that he gets too artificial or fictitious judged backlinks.

Therefore, the old SEO Negative fears have flared up, and although we understand why: it seems possible to harm the referencing of a competing site in fending him to generate many low quality links.

SEO experts mostly agree to admit that if the risk is very low for a site whose reputation is already well established (read: it already has many quality backlinks), the risk actually exists in the opposite case.

Hence the idea now offered by Google AdWords Agency and Bing to provide a way for website owners to report to ignore some backlinks.
The tool to disavow backlinks in GWT
The steps to provide a list of backlinks to “refuse”

As Bing offering his tool in BWT, Google announced on 16/10/2012 the opportunity for any site owner to denounce some backlinks. To do this, simply go to and select the site you want to manage the backlinks to disavow:
Refuse backlinks: site selection

Refuse backlinks via GWT: choice of the site concerned

You will find that you must be the owner of the site (in the sense of GWT). This means that if a third party has given you access to its GWT account (through your Google account), it will not be enough: you can not use the disavowal tool.

Then, once you have selected the site, Google will ask you to read the warning message before continuing:

This is an advanced feature used with caution. In fact, if used incorrectly, it can harm your site’s ranking in Google search results. We recommend you to refuse incoming links if you think that many poor quality links, artificial or contain spam refer to your site, and you are convinced that these links are a problem.

In the online help, Google also states:

In most cases, we can assess the links which rely without further entry. Also, this tool is not useful for most standard sites.

If you are still determined, click the “Deny connections” button. Google will show you again exactly the same message and asks you to upload a text file listing “links you want to deny.” There is still time to cancel by clicking on “Complete” (sic) to cancel.
Upload the file to deny backlinks

The file upload form to deny backlinks via GWT
The file format to upload: syntax

In the text file, you only need to list the URLs of pages that link to your site and you want Google to ignore. Please do not put the list of all your external backlinks (available in your Google Webmaster Tools account), otherwise it probably would sign the end of your Google profile …

If you want Google to ignore all the links from a particular domain name pointing to your site, simply use the “domain”. For example, if the domain name that makes you very bad quality links is “”, put this line:


As usual with Google commands, do not put spaces before and after the colon.

To reject only the links from a subdomain in particular, use the domain command: specifying the subdomain concerned:


Careful with the management of the www subdomain: If you specify this subdomain as in the example below, only the links in the pages of this subdomain will be disowned. Unless there are www subdomain, such as links on the URL would be disowned.


You can combine all that, which could give example:


You can add comment lines by making them start with # but they will be ignored. Put them if it serves you, but not in the hope that Google into account. In particular, these comments are not read by members of the Google team on the quality of research (those reviewing your reconsideration requests).

The file must not be more than 2MB. However, if your file is too large, the best is probably to mourn your site and to rebuild a completely new a new domain …

You can only upload one file per site.

All owners of the declared site in GWT account will access the uploaded file. Casually, this means that if your provider has been able to identify as owner, he has the ability to negate the impact of all your backlinks … Come and have a look to check who has access to your account! But rest assured, when you only give access to a Google account, you can not manage your disapproval file: you have to have the level “owner”.
How long is the wait?

It will take Google crawls again all concerned URL and manages in its index. According to Google, it may take “several weeks” before the consideration of your application. Google may even decide not to consider your application if it considers that these claims are not legitimate (“Google reserves the right to trust our own judgment for corner cases”).

Specifically, you have absolutely no return other than checking the format of the uploaded file.

With this, you are well advanced, is not it? : (
Can we cancel a request, in case of error?

If you have asked to ignore some backlinks and that ultimately you want to change your mind, download the file you upload, edit it (removing the affected URL) and then upload it again. For example, if you no longer wish to disallow a particular link, simply remove the URL list on which it is located and upload the modified file.

It will again wait for Google treats and wait until Google crawls the URL again makes you a link and you removed your disapproval. All this without any return from Google …
Can you send multiple files disavowal?

No this is not possible, each file sent overrides the previous. This is very important: it means that if you find new links to disavow, add them to your file. If you only put new URL in a text file, Google will assume that you have only to disavow them …
Should we disavow the nofollow links?

No it’s not worth it, they are in any case ignored by Google. Moreover, disowned links are treated in the same way that nofollow links. This is the Google engineer John Mueller says:

You do not need to Log Any nofollow links include … because Essentially what happens with links That You’re submit a disavow, When We recrawl em we treat em similarly to –other nofollowed links. Including a nofollow link There Would not Be considers.

They remain disowned links listed in GWT?

Yes I Do! This may be surprising and frustrating for you, but I can confirm that the backlinks you have disowned do not disappear from the “Search Traffic> Links to your site” Google Webmaster Tools.

Moreover, this section also lists nofollow links that are yet ignored by Google …
Must also request a review or this tool is it enough to lift a penalty?

If you have received a message from Google telling you that your site is penalized because of links “dummy” (artificial)

try to remove these backlinks (or have it amended to respect the Google instructions)
for when you do not get satisfaction with your request, list the URL in the file to send to refuse backlinks
expect that Google takes into account (hard to know how much time actually …)
make your request for reconsideration, explaining all the details

Google makes it clear that in the case of a manual penalty, it must in any case go through the review request (after sending the file to disavow backlinks).

Note: If you received the message for Google dummy links, see my file to get by.

Conversely, if you have not received a message, you do not need to apply for a review and besides, you can not even do that. You can find out by visiting the Manual actions of your GWT account.

The GWT tool to deny links
Google does penalize sites that are disavow?

You probably read in many places that Google uses the data collected by this tool to identify sites that practice spam, to penalize. The idea being that if multiple files disavowal mention a site, Google could be considered as spammy.

But John Mueller (Google) says it is not so and that “for the moment” Google does not use the data in this way:

When it comes to the disavow links tool, at the moment we are not using data in Any Way That Against the websites are being white That Disavowed Because There Are Many Reasons why just so a link Might Be Disavowed. It might Be That it’s a fine website but perfectly For some reason the ads On That Site are passing PageRank and maybe the webmaster is not aware of That and that’s not something Abebooks web Would say, “Oh, this is a spammy site,” Because Reviews some of thesis ads are passing PageRank. Or maybe They Have comments on a blog or on Articles That They publish and people-have-been spamming Those comments. Just because Those links are in someone’s file disavow, It Does not mean que la glad Necessarily On That Site is bad. ”

Should I use this tool?
Official Google explanations

We strive to ensure that the actions of a third party site does not negatively affect other website. In some cases, incoming links can influence our assessment of a site or page. For example, you or a SEO (SEO) to which you can call creating incorrect links to your site through paid links or links to systems that do not follow our instruction for the quality. First, we recommend removing the web many links containing spam or bad as possible.
If you have already done everything to remove these links, but you can not, you can refuse the remaining links. In other words, you can ask us to ignore certain links in the assessment of your site.

My point of view

First, I prefer to remember that the majority of sites should not need this tool.

First we can enjoy this tool. After all, this is a solution over to us, and many of those who had asked in recent weeks. But then it begs a few questions:

Is it not a sign of weakness on the part of Google? Is it really up to us to make this work? This should not it be that of Google? Why Google does not simply disables the power of a link when it determines that the link is artificial?
How effectively do if we discover a large number of links? If there are thousands spread across thousands of sites, should we treat them one by one? If people spamming the web by posting hundreds of thousands of links to a competitor, why the webmaster concerned should have to clean this spam?
How to know if you really disavow a link? How do I know if it is considered spam by Google? In other words, how to know if the link is toxic to its SEO?
Is there not a risk of weakening its listing if it disavows links that actually were regarded by Google?
Conversely, Google will think that a site which most outbound links are disavowed by other webmasters? I guess it could be used by the algorithm to locate Panda poor quality sites, or to confirm that they are of poor quality. To better understand this remark, I suggest you read my decryption Google patent sets a trap to SEO spamming.
Moreover, this tool could it not be a complete farce? Bluff! With this superb crowdsourcing Free World, Google can identify better than before all the sites and all the spamming techniques netlinking who deceive their algo. Of course, Google denies and use the data collected.
What are the impacts on online reputation? If a customer gives his opinion on a site by making a link to it with negative words in the link text, the site in question could come out on terms. If it is enough to webmaster disavow these links, it’s a whole section of the Google algorithm, which is modified …

What backlinks should you ask Google to ignore?

That’s right the main problem: what links will you give in terms of SEO? The backlinks are so hard to achieve it is important not to be deceived by asking Google to ignore some. Because if Google were not considered artificial, then your SEO will be weakened and the penalty that you have (or think you?) On your site will not go away!

I advise you to read and reread the instructions official Google on the links Systems (backlinks) in both French and English.

If you have any doubts about the backlinks to disavow if you do not know whether to remove or modify them, ask for help in the WebRankInfo forum.

If you prefer a professional analysis, please contact me for a quote: I have experience and my own tools to assist you. You can find more information on my site WebRankExpert, under Analysis of artificial backlinks.
Matt Cutts councils on the backlinks of disallowance
An interview conducted by Danny Sullivan (source):

Q Why does not Google it provides a complete list of artificial backlinks?
R- To avoid assisting evil people to learn how to better spam (that is to say without being detected by Google).

Q- Who should use this tool?
R All who have received a message from Google (in GWT) on the presence of artificial links, as well as those who have been penalized by Penguin and think or know they have bad backlinks.

Q- What is the time to impact on the SEO of the site?
R- It may take several weeks or months; data must be integrated into our index and also exploited by different algorithms.

Q In which cases we must make a request for reconsideration?
R- Only if you have received a message informing you in GWT with a manual penalty. In other cases, the requests for review have no impact.

Q- Why Google Can not just ignore these bad backlinks, rather than seek to use the disavowal tool?
R- To help webmasters to clean their backlinks ([how rotten response …])
Here is the official video explanation:
Video of the classic mistakes with the disavowal file

Matt Cutts explains the main errors encountered by Google with webmasters who attempt to disavow links and take poorly to:

do uploader nothing but a plain text file: No Word document, Excel or other
when an entire site is poor and you make connections, you must disavow the field at once (via Directive domain 🙂 and not try to list each URL [with that, Google is sure that even more Links will be blocked …]
the syntax in the file must be strictly adhered to, otherwise the request is ignored
it is unnecessary to add comments, they will be ignored. If necessary, give them a request for review
it is better to remove the links that using the tool: it should only be a last resort [Matt incentive to clean up the web, it will prevent Google from having to manage …]