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Google Disavow Tool: What Can You Do For Your SEO?

By claire on March 17, 2022

When building backlinks, the more you have the better. However, they need to come along with quality. If the backlink you have brings harm to your website, you need to disavow it. A google disavow tool is created to help you with the task. 

You will learn:

  • Basic information about disavow oflinks.
  • How to use a disavow tool
  • What to do after disavowing.

Backlinks are important for your SEO. Getting links from other trustworthy websites is a great way to help Google see your site as authoritative. However, your backlink profile will not be perfect over time. You can have bad backlinks, negative SEO and when this happens, you need to disavow these backlinks.

Disavowing backlinks isn’t something you do on a whim. It is a fairly serious action that can significantly impact your search ranking, for better or for worse. You need the help of a disavow tool that works for Google SERP.

In this article, you will know how to disavow links with knowledge about bad links, google algorithms, and penalties. Besides the disavow tools from Google and Google Search Console, you will also be introduced to BacklinkGap, one incredible tool that supports building your backlink profile.

What is Disavow Backlink?

You must always remember that backlinks remain one of Google’s top three ranking factors. Buidling a consistent backlink is important since the more backlinks a page has, the more search traffic you can get from Google. Thus, disavowing backlinks is a process of instructing Google to ignore unwanted backlinks in order to positively impact ranking in SERPs. 

Google disavow allows webmasters to block dirty links (or dirty backlinks) from low-quality or irrelevant websites. Besides, it also helpsto avoid Google penalties caused by dirty backlinks. For example, if you have 100,000 backlinks on abc.com website, after just one click, your links on abc.com will not be considered as a backlink anymore, and Google will ignore it.

Although it seems like disavowing backlinks is in contrast to building backlinks because it decreases your link numbers. However, it’s an effort that helps you build your strong backlink profile.

Google Algorithm with Disavow Link

Changes in Penguin Algorithm:

Here, we will talk about Google’s algorithm, specifically today’s Penguin 4.0. 

One of the reasons Penguin is so dangerous is because you will never be informed if your website is penalized. The algorithm will no longer penalize dirty links on the website but only ignore or devalue the links. You can only assume that you were penalized by indirect signs, like a sharp drop in organic traffic or declined positions for some (or all) of your keywords, including the branded ones.

But that doesn’t mean you should keep building spammy backlinks and think “That’s fine. Google won’t penalize me and my website has not been downgraded at all.”

Penguin probably no longer penalize your site, but there are still Google’s own penalties out there. 

Thus, Penguin is real-time now. This implies that any page’s rankings may change each time Google updates the information about the pages and pages linking to them. So, both the positive and negative impacts of your actions will become noticeable faster.

This also means that the real-time algorithm allows you to recover from a Google penalty faster. If your site is penalized, you’ll see positive results sooner when  your webmaster does a good job improving it and removing harmful links. It can be right after Google recrawls your website’s pages.

Why do you need to disavow links?

Because the new Penguin takes a granular approach, it is essential to audit backlinks for each important subdomain and subdivision of your website.

The main reason to disavow links is to protect the site from “bad” links that are harming its reputation, and its rank on the SERPs. Bad links can be created for many reasons: competitors can use them to move higher in the rankings, users might accidentally create them by talking on an unsavory site, or Google’s algorithms might change in a way that causes a formerly useful link to become a problem.

Disavowing toxic links can help your site to recover from penalties or prevent them from happening in the first place. 

In addition, disavow link is a work of keeping your backlink profile healthy and clean. You can make a habit of regularly checking new and lost backlinks, their value and quality to find out suspicious ones. Or, you can conduct a deep backlink audit of your entire website monthly to constantly monitor your positions in SERPs. It is suggested that you should compare keyword rankings and investigate which keywords have taken a sudden drop in position to stay aware of strange rankings movement.  Make sure you’re tracking not only keywords your homepage is ranking for, but also keywords for all significant subdivisions. 

Google Penalty and how your bad backlinks might look like?

Google identifies its penalty as:

“Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.”

The more backlink profile is plagued with toxic links, the harder it will be to fend off a penalty. Therefore, don’t try any spammy strategies, or generate thousands of unnatural links pointing to your website. If caught, you will spend way more time and effort removing the Google penalty and recovering from it.

Type of bad backlinks: 

Two of the biggest offenders are links that can be purchased in massive numbers from shady SEO sites and intentional backlink schemes that are utilizing a private backlink network (PBN).

Link farms, automated software, and PBNs are widely used for generating numerous bad links. The number of links may vary, from a few hundred to thousands. 

Toxic backlinks commonly display signs of low quality or an attempt to manipulate rankings such as:

  • Coming from sites that have been set up only for the purpose of linking out.
  • Coming from sites and content which aren’t topically relevant. 
  • Coming from sites that aren’t indexed by Google.
  • Being obviously forced into blog comments.
  • Being hidden away in a website’s footer.
  • Existing on every page on a website.
  • Using ‘ exact match anchor text’ (using commercial ‘money’ terms and target keywords as the link text).
  • Followed links clearly marked as sponsored.

2 things you can do:

When you spot these bad backlinks on your profile, what should you do?

Try removing links

You can remove these backlinks by sending disavow files to Google Search Console.

If you’re auditing a site, it’s a really good idea to go in and check to see if a disavow file already exists. It’s possible that it was created prior to Penguin 4.0.

It’s possible there are good links in your disavow file. But you can try removing links and see if it helps your rankings. 

Record everything and treat it as an experiment

Remember when you are disavowing things, you should record these experiences. Treat this as any other SEO process. 

If you disavow the right backlinks, and your rank goes up, that is a good try. You can record to know the look of that good-quality backlinks. 

If you make a mistake and your rankings drop, you should record to know what caused that. In the next try, you will be aware of previous mistake and make a better SEO. 

Google Disavow Tool

It is important that you use a Google disavow tool very carefully as  incorrect action can potentially harm your site’s performance. 

Whatever their cause, bad links hurt companies. The disavow tool is one way to stop the harm from continuing.

What should you use & How can you use it?

The first choice is generally Google Search Console. Thus, it is helpful to use third-party tools, such as Backlink Gap.

Google Search Console

Everyone that has a Google Analytics tracking tag on their website also has access to Google’s Search Console tool. Google Search Console provides such houses information on the linking structure of the site. 

You can conduct a link audit from the Link Report page of Search Console. Just click the big “Export External Links” button on the top right of the screen and choose “More Sample Links.” Export it as the file type of your choice.

Google Disavow Tool

Then, you need to open a new text file (extension must be .txt) and enter the URLs or domains from which you wish to disavow links in the file, following these rules (which is Google official rules and you can check it more at the Google Help Center):

  • Enter only one URL or domain per line
  • Domains (or subdomains) should contain the prefix “domain:”. Example: “domain:spammysite.com”
  • The maximum file size should be 100,000 lines
  • The maximum URL length should be 2048 characters

The next step is uploading the list to Google Search Console Disavow Tool

The above process sounds pretty simple until you realize that we skipped the hard part—identifying the bad backlinks. Google only serves you a list of domains and the amount of links that are linked to you when you run the external link report. There’s no information that would help you determine whether or not the link is worth keeping. 

The only way to know is to check out each domain manually, which is simply not feasible for most sites. Even a small site will accumulate thousands of backlinks after a few years. Even if you spot the obvious spam sites, it could be near impossible to know if a site is part of a PBN or is otherwise disliked by Google. That is why you need a tool like BacklinkGap.

A Disavow Link Tool Like BacklinkGap

link disavow tool - backlinkgap

With BacklinkGap, you can instantly identify spammy links. The tool allows you to congregate all the big insights to identify harmful, spammy, or unnatural backlinks that may potentially harm your rankings. For example, total referring domains with line chart, new & lost backlinks, the backlink types, etc. 

link disavow tool - backlinkgap

You can prevent negative SEO from affecting your rankings by taking prompt actions to assemble your list of pages or domains to disavow.

BacklinkGap helps you efficiently disavow bad links from your site. In the monitoring feature, you can add all your unnatural and unwanted backlinks to your “disavow list”. Then, you can perform a quick CSV export of your list so that you can simply upload them to Google’s Search Console disavow tool.

link disavow tool - backlinkgap

These backlinks that you manage on a single dashboard can help you to keep track of links that you’ve removed from your inbound list. You can easily keep your eyes on all the backlinks you’ve devalued. Experience a more refined way to measure the effects of your actions on your rankings or SEO campaign.

What to do after?

Keep monitoring your backlink profiles

No plan is efficient if you don’t monitor the progress. 

Backlink profile monitoring should be an integral part of your ongoing SEO activities. You need to know who is linking out to you. If there are any suspicious activities, you will be alerted to react in real-time and avoid a disruptive, (or devastating), penalty.

Tracking your progress will help to curb backlinks management and make a more prudent decision further on. A data-driven approach to backlink management allows you to spot weaknesses easily and craft your unique plan for success. 

The work of disavowing link does now stop after one time, you still need to come back and work on it again.

Do other link-building strategies

You need to consider about your link-building strategies also. Be careful with what you are doing will decrease the problem of attracting bad links. 

Guest blogging, skyscraper tactics, broken link building, etc, are what you can try out.If you have not know much about the tactics, you can read this article: How To Create Backlink: The Most Updated Guide 2022


Disavowing links is a tedious yet necessary task that you need to accomplish if you want to stay in good graces with Google. 

It is not always spammy links that need to be disavowed, you also need to look at the backlinks that come from the low-quality page. The overall quality of a website can help you determine how impactful a backlink from a site can be. If a site has a lower authority score, it probably won’t be that beneficial. Besides, you need to remember that getting backlinks from a variety of high-quality sites is better than getting multiple backlinks from just one domain, even if that domain is also high-quality. 

Use a Google disavow tool like BacklinkGap to create a disavow file quicker, and analyze the quality of thousand backlinks on a whim.

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Updated: 19 July 2024

Claire Le

About Claire Le

A dog lover and a travelholic. Interested in digital marketing and content creating.

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