3 Ways You Might Be Using Google’s Disavow Tool Incorrectly

Published Jan 28, 2014 by James Parsons in Tools
The views of contributors are their own, and not necessarily those of SEOBlog.com


Disavow Tool came into the picture last year with a simple purpose – if your link profile consists of some unwanted links, you can use the Disavow tool to clean them up. Using this tool, you can submit such unsavory links for Google’s consideration. However, what needs to be mentioned is that the tool will not remove those links but, instead, when your search rankings are drawn up, Google would know that these are the links you want to be ignored.

There are some ways in which you could be using the Disavow Tool incorrectly. The following are three common mistakes –

1. Wrong File Type

While uploading a text document, your doc would be sent to a parser and the information required for considering the request will be parsed by it. However, if the file type of your document is anything apart from .txt file type, the parser will reject your document. Thus, Excel spreadsheets and Word documents are a complete no. Simply use a basic .txt document with ASCII (7 bit) or UTF-8 encoding.

Another reason why the parser could reject your text document is by including a tedious back-story in the text file. This rejection could happen even after using # sign. If you want to include the situation’s context, do it in the request for reconsideration. If the text file is where you want the context to be included, keep it simple and restricted to a single line as brevity is beneficial in this case.

2. Cherry Picking While Link Removing

A precise approach is usually the right one but being thorough may not always be good. Sometimes, being too thorough can be unnecessary and tedious because it is not always possible to fine every backlink of a spammy website. Thus, for certain websites, you should consider taking a broader route by making use of “domain” attribute as opposed to checking individual links.

Another common and careless error is related to the erratic typing of the “domain:” syntax. The right way to type out this attribute is “domain:anexamplesite.com” instead of “domain:www.anexamplesite.com” or “domain:http://www.anexamplesite.com.”

3. Disavow Tool is Not a Cure-It-All


Not all the ills and problems associated with your backlinks can be cured with Google’s Disavow tool. If you think there are spammy backlinks, remove them yourself and spend some time on them to be as thorough as you can. This tool can be used for reconsidering those links over which you seem to have no control. Google would account for and consider the fact that you tried to manually sort out and clean the profile of your links.

One of the biggest concepts with the Disavow Tool that people seem to find difficult to grasp is that you cannot use it as a primary means for cleaning up a certain link profile. You must use the tool in a judicious manner and use it as a last resort. Matt Cutts, the chief spam fighter of Google, mentioned in a video that you should not upload every spammy link through the tool but must make an effort to clean them up yourself. If you find it impossible to do so, since it is beyond your control, only then should you resort to the tool.

Google expects that you would try and reach the webmasters before you turn towards Disavow tool. This means that before you start disavowing, go about link removal the old fashioned way. That is, identify the websites and send them a request through email telling them to remove your link from their website. Yes, it is a time consuming method but doing so can help you avoid penalties in the future.

Tips to Use Google Disavow:

As you may have noticed, Google Disavow can be a dangerous tool. There aren’t many other tools that have had so much speculation. Most people are still doubtful about how to use this tool properly. So, here are a few golden rules that you can follow while disavowing, and they are tried and tested, so you need not worry –

First Remove, Then Disavow – You should not attempt to be sneaky with Google because, as mentioned before, disavowing should be your last resort. A historical index is maintained of your backlink profile by Google Webspam. Thus, when a reconsideration request is filed by you, the links that you have worked towards (for getting removed) would be seen by them.

Disavow Domains When In Doubt – Have you been rejected multiple times after disavowing individual links? Often disavowing an entire shady domain works for most people. There are two options that you have when you use Disavow tool – entire domains or individual links. People go for the latter option because they don’t want to disavow something important or valuable. But if you are facing rejection repeatedly, you can find success by disavowing the entire domain.

Use Google Docs – While documenting your well worked efforts, you shouldn’t submit your links to the team of Webspam randomly. This is because there are chances that these links wouldn’t get clicked on. Instead, if you share the evidence of your hard work through Google Docs, the chances of the Webspam team seeing your efforts is increased since they are offered a level of protection.

Common Myths About Google Disavow:


Also, don’t fall the common myths that are circulating about Google Disavow –

Google Disavow Will Hurt Your Site Instead of Helping It – This myth has stemmed from the language that is used by Google in the Webmaster toolkit. Basically, it says that the tool should be used judiciously and cautiously or else, it will harm the website of the user. What people seem to ignore is the bit where Google mentions that such a thing would only happen if the tool is not used correctly. Carefully go through the things mentioned by Google and then use the tool to avoid such a thing from happening. If you are unsure about what to do, take the help of a professional.

Google Will Brand You a Spammer – If you use the tool properly, then such a thing would never happen. Such a myth is commonly believed by people who don’t do the legwork adequately before resorting to the tool. As mentioned before, try to remove the links the old fashioned way and if that fails, then use this tool.

You Can Use the Tool If You Are under Manual Penalty and Be Done with it – Google Disavow is just one of the things that you can use if you have been under a manual penalty.

SEO is influenced by a number of factors like social signals, website speed, density of keywords et al. One of the most important factors to feature in this list is link building. This tool can make or break your website in a matter of days or even overnight. Google considers every backlink to your website from a reputable site to be a vote in your favor. This improves your website’s PageRank. However, it is not always the case that only desirable websites link to your website. Maybe, the technique you used for link building in the past was not perfect or maybe something else is the reason. However, if you want to turn a fresh leaf, you can use the disavow links tool by Google.

Written by James Parsons

James Parsons

James Parsons is a blogger and marketer, and is the CEO of Pagelift. When he isn’t writing at his personal blog or for HuffPo, Inc, or Entrepreneur, he is working on his next big project.

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