Use Google’s Disavow Tool Correctly

Use Google’s Disavow Tool Correctly

Many webmasters are familiar with the influence of links and anchor text on the ranking within Google web search. As it turned out at the latest with the so-called “penguin update,” this influence does not always have to be positive. With the penguin update, Google has managed to recognize the manipulation of the link structure better and punish manipulating domains. Usually, the measure is to reset the web pages in the Google results.

Google’s hit rate was astonishingly high, and website operators had to understand that a link is not always a link. While many search engine optimiziers had defined quantity as a measure of the success of link marketing activities, the focus should now be turned back to quality, and improving the link structure should be seen as part of inbound marketingLinks should primarily serve to direct visitors to your website and not to manipulate algorithms. You can achieve this through sustainable link marketing measures.

Google Disavow Tool: invalidate links

Google would like to give the websites affected by (backlink) penalties the opportunity to learn from their own mistakes and to devalue manipulatively set links. To do this, it is necessary to precisely analyze the backlink profile of your own site and then contact the linked website to remove a link or have it canceled by nofollow.

Since it is sometimes not possible to remove a link that has been set, a link can be canceled using the so-called disavow Tool. The challenge is to identify the potentially harmful links during the analysis and to declare them invalid. Since the Tool is only intended for absolute experts, it is not linked within the Google Search Console (formerly: Google Webmaster Tools), but can be accessed via the URL

If you have identified links that, in your opinion, are damaging the ranking of your website in Google Search, you have to upload them via a .txt file for the confirmed domain. This file can – if necessary – be adapted again and again. When creating the document, please note that only one entry can be specified per line. If an entry is a comment, it must be marked with a hash. In addition to invalidating individual links, entering “domain: name of the website your want to disavow” can also invalidate all links to your own website from this domain.

Disavow Tool: example file

# Owner of contacted on 07/01/2020
# Request for link removal but no response received
# Owner of has removed the links except for the following:

When saving, you must ensure that the document is encoded in UTF-8 format and submitted as a .txt file. The choice of UTF-8 as coding is possible with the Windows Editor, for example.

Basically, the better method is to have a link removed by the webmaster of the linking domain since the Google Disavow tool naturally only influences the Google algorithm and other search engines further evaluate the links. Bing also has a disavow tool. This is linked directly to the Bing Webmaster Tools.

As Google specifically points out in several places, the Tool is only suitable for experts! If links classified as “good” by Google are removed or voided, this has a negative impact on the ranking of the page – in addition to the existing links of poor quality. Google evaluates the links transferred as a “strong indication” from the webmaster. So it may be that Google does not follow the input of the webmaster.

How quickly do you see successes after a disavow?

There is no reliable knowledge of the length of time that elapses between submission of the disavow file and an improvement in the rankings. It is known that some webmasters were able to determine positive ranking improvements within a week of submitting the devaluation. However, other webmasters report that even after several weeks, no ranking improvements were found.

Whether there are any successes naturally depends on the remaining backlinks. If you have invalidated a large part of your links using the disavow tool, you will, of course, not be able to notice any rapid improvement.

Criticism of the disavow tool

Webmasters often ask whether the disavow Tool provided by Google should be used at all. The fear is that Google will take a closer look at a website if links have been canceled using the Tool. In my opinion, this fear is unfounded, and the Tool is a good way to save a website from a penalty or to get rid of a penalty.

Google will certainly use the submitted data in some form, for example, to further fine-tune the algorithms, but this does not increase the damage to your own domain.