How Googles Disavow Tool can Break Bad Links

Posted on September 3, 2013 by Simon Thompson

search engine optimisation SEO

Links to a web site can drag down page ranking as search engine interpretation of the quality of the link may change over time – but Google’s disavow tool can come to the rescue.

As Google has upgraded the search algorithm, links that may have built page ranking in the past do not count for much now – like links to articles in content farms that were once all the rage for promoting a web site.

The first step in trying to ditch these bad links is the slow process of scanning the linking web site to break the connection.

This may only go so far in helping the search engines and page ranking, so fortunately Google provides a handy tool for the job – the disavow tool.

search engine optimisation SEO

The principle of disavowing a link is straightforward. Google counts a link as a ‘like’ for your web site content, but if you want the search engine to ignore some poor quality links, web masters can ask use the tool to request the search engine to drop them when crawling the web.

The disavow tool comes with a warning – Google’s software includes a blacklist of spammy or low quality links already, so says the search giant, most web masters will not need to use the tool.

Setting up disavow is not hard –

  • Go to the Webmaster Tools home page and select the site you are spring cleaning
  • On the dashboard, click Search Traffic, and then Links to Your Site
  • Under Who links the most, click More
  • Click Download more sample links. If you click Download latest links, you’ll see dates as well
  • Now put the file and relevant information in a file and upload to Google

Google gives this example of how to format the file:

# example.com removed most links, but missed these
http://spam.example.com/stuff/comments.html
http://spam.example.com/stuff/paid-links.html
# Contacted owner of shadyseo.com on 7/1/2012 to
# ask for link removal but got no response
domain:shadyseo.com

To ask Google to ignore all links from the site add the ‘domain:’ line

To upload the file, go to the disavow tool page within your Google Web Master dashboard, choose the site you are working on , click  Disavow links, click Choose file and the upload will start.

The time needed to remove the links and reassess page ranking will vary, so do not expect instant results.

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