Disavow

Google’s disavow tool enables webmasters to inform Google that they do not want a backlink to be counted and considered when they review the links pointing to a website. This is particularly useful if there are several unnatural links pointing to a site. Our Hangout Notes cover further advice for using the tool, along with examples from Google.

Spammy backlinks to 404 pages are ignored by default

May 13, 2022 Source

When asked how to deal with thousands of spammy backlinks, John was keen to reassure users that low-quality sites linking to 404 pages won’t impact your site negatively. Because it’s a 404, Google essentially reads that link as not connecting to anything and ignores it (for the same reason, it’s important to review/redirect links coming from valuable sources to a 404 page). If it’s just a handful of sites providing spammy backlinks to non-404 pages, the recommendation is to set a domain-level disavow.


Many sites don’t require a disavow file

January 27, 2022 Source

One user asked about managing the size of their site’s disavow file. Only links that could make a user or Google think they’ve been paid for belong in a disavow file. That means that not every instance of a spammy or low-quality link to your site needs to be included in a disavow file. John suggested that a disavow file isn’t necessary for most websites (and having one could be causing more problems than it solves).


Disavowing a redirected URL may be enough to prevent the passing of poor link signals

December 6, 2021 Source

One participant asked for the best approach when dealing with a redirecting URL that has poor quality backlinks (in this case, a page with 18k spammy links was redirecting to the site homepage). If the rest of the destination URL’s backlink profile is relatively healthy, it may be enough to disavow that redirect alone. Disavowing all of the backlink spam would still be the ideal, but in cases like this the outcome probably doesn’t warrant that additional time and effort.


No Need to Disavow Links From Sites that Have Decreased in Traffic or Popularity Over Time

January 7, 2020 Source

It can be natural for some sites to receive less traffic over time, so there’s no need to disavow links from sites that have decreased in popularity, unless the link itself is spam.


External Links Shown in GSC Can Contain Disavowed or Nofollowed Links

October 4, 2019 Source

The external links shown in Google Search Console are a sample of all the links found by Google, so not all of them will be displayed in the tool. The sample data may include links that have been disavowed or nofollowed.


Google Takes The Disavow File into Account Immediately

May 3, 2019 Source

When re-crawling the URLs specified in the disavow file, Google will immediately drop these. However, they will still appear in the Links Report seen in Google Search Console.


Disavowed Links Aren’t Removed From GSC Links Report

April 7, 2019 Source

Links that have been disavowed will still show up in the links report in Google Search Console. This doesn’t mean that disavowing the links hasn’t worked, rather this is just how the links are reported.


Disavowed Links Aren’t Removed From GSC Links Report

March 19, 2019 Source

Links that have been disavowed will still show up in the links report in Google Search Console. This doesn’t mean that disavowing the links hasn’t worked, rather this is just how the links are reported.


Only Use Disavow if WebSpam Team Would Likely Issue Manual Action

January 22, 2019 Source

John recommends using the Disavow Tool if you think that the WebSpam Team would likely give you a manual action for the links in question. However, for most websites that aren’t actively attempting to manipulate rankings with suspicious link building practices it isn’t worth using the Disavow Tool.


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Internal Linking Backlinks Anchor Text External Linking Deep App Links