Disavowing Backlinks

Google’s disavow tool enables website managers to inform Google that they do not want a backlink to be counted or considered when Google reviews the links pointing to their website. This can particularly useful if there are numerous unnatural or spammy links pointing to a site. Our SEO Office Hours notes below compile advice from Google’s regular video sessions regarding disavow options for poor quality backlinks.

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.


Submit Reconsideration Requests Separately For Different Subdomains

October 5, 2018 Source

Submit reconsideration requests separately if manual actions have been received for different subdomains, and make sure the disavow files are updated for each one.


Google Reconsiders URLs Removed From the Disavow File

July 13, 2018 Source

Google uses the most current version of a site’s disavow file and will reconsider URLs that have since been removed.


Move Disavow File to Your Separate Mobile Site for Mobile-first Indexing

July 10, 2018 Source

In the same way that you should move the disavow file across after a domain or HTTPS migration, you should upload the disavow file on your separate mobile site if it was previously uploaded just on your desktop site.


You Can’t Disavow an Entire TLD

March 6, 2018 Source

There is no way to disavow an entire TLD. John advises against doing this as individual links aren’t reflective of the entire content of a site. Google is also getting better at recognising and ignoring unnatural links itself anyway.


The Disavow File is Only Needed for Manual Action Penalties

November 14, 2017 Source

The disavow file should mainly be used when there is a manual action to help with the reconsideration request. For sites that don’t have a manual action, Google will try to ignore any manipulative links automatically.


Disavowing Links From Partial Manual Actions Isn’t Necessary

October 31, 2017 Source

If a site has received a partial manual action for spammy links, these links will have already been taken out of consideration by the Webspam team. In this case, it is up to the webmaster if you want to disavow the spammy links or leave them there.


Google Counts Links When Removed From Disavow Files

October 31, 2017 Source

Removing URLs from the disavow file means Google will count these links again the next time they are processed.


Disavow Internationalized Domains with Punycode

January 10, 2017 Source

You can disavow domains with the Punycode versions of internationalized domain names.


Related Topics

Internal Linking Backlinks Anchor Text External Linking Deep App Links