How to Disavow Backlinks? [2023 Guide]

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Wondering how to disavow backlinks? Here’s what you need to know…

Why Disavow Links?

Disavow backlinks is a topic that comes up often in the world of SEO. But why do people even consider doing this? Well, it’s because not all backlinks are created equal.

Some can actually harm your website’s ranking on search engines.

What Is a Bad Backlink?

Before we dive into disavowing backlinks, let’s clarify what a bad backlink is. A bad backlink is one that comes from low-quality, spammy, or untrustworthy websites. These links can hurt your site’s search engine rankings, as search engines may perceive your site as having low-quality content.

Think of it like this: imagine your website is a restaurant and backlinks are the customers. Would you want customers who misbehave, cause chaos, and drive away other customers? Of course not! The same principle applies to backlinks.

When to Disavow Links?

Now that you know what bad backlinks are, let’s discuss when you should consider disavowing them.

  1. You’ve received a manual action from Google: If Google has penalized your site for having unnatural links, disavowing them is a must. This will help you regain your rankings and avoid further penalties.
  2. You’ve identified a negative SEO attack: Unfortunately, some competitors may try to harm your site’s ranking by creating spammy backlinks. If you suspect this has happened, disavow these links immediately.
  3. Your site’s backlink profile is predominantly low-quality: A poor backlink profile can drag your site’s rankings down. It’s essential to disavow these links and focus on building high-quality ones instead.

Which links should I disavow?

Identifying the links you should disavow can be a daunting task. Here are some tips to help you pinpoint the bad apples:

  1. Use a backlink analysis tool: Tools like Ahrefs, SEMrush, and Moz can help you identify low-quality links.
  2. Analyze the linking website: Check the website’s domain authority, content quality, and whether it has been penalized by Google.
  3. Assess relevancy: If the linking site is not related to your niche or industry, it’s likely a bad backlink.
  4. Look for spammy anchor text: Unnatural, over-optimized, or irrelevant anchor text can be a red flag for bad backlinks.

Once you’ve identified the links to disavow, create a list of the domains or URLs you want to remove.

What Happens When You Disavow a Backlink?

When you disavow a backlink, you’re essentially telling search engines like Google to ignore it when evaluating your site. However, it’s important to note that disavowing a link doesn’t remove it from the internet. It simply means that search engines will no longer consider it when determining your site’s ranking.

To disavow backlinks, you’ll need to create a disavow file, a plain text file containing the domains or URLs you want search engines to ignore. Once you’ve compiled your list, submit it through Google’s Disavow Links tool.

Keep in mind that disavowing backlinks should be approached with caution. It’s a powerful tool that, if misused, can harm your site’s rankings. Always double-check your disavow file before submitting it, and remember that the process may take several weeks to take effect.

In conclusion, disavowing backlinks is an essential practice in maintaining a healthy backlink profile.

How to find which backlinks to disavow

Finding which backlinks to disavow can be a time-consuming process, but with the right tools and strategy, you can streamline the task. Here’s how:

  1. Use backlink analysis tools: Tools like Ahrefs, Moz, and SEMrush can help you identify low-quality or spammy backlinks.
  2. Evaluate the linking websites: Check each website’s domain authority, content quality, and potential Google penalties.
  3. Analyze the anchor text: Spammy or irrelevant anchor text may indicate a bad backlink.
  4. Assess relevancy: If the linking site is unrelated to your industry or niche, it might be a candidate for disavowing.

How to Disavow Links in Google Search Console

Follow these steps to disavow links using Google Search Console:

  1. Create a disavow file: Compile a list of domains or URLs you want to disavow in a plain text file.
  2. Log in to Google Search Console and select the appropriate domain.
  3. Go to the “Disavow Links” section.
  4. Upload your disavow file and click “Submit.”
  5. Be patient, as it may take a few weeks for Google to process your request.

How to Disavow Links with Semrush

To disavow links using Semrush, follow these steps:

  1. Open Semrush and go to the Backlink Audit tool.
  2. Create a new project and connect it to your Google Search Console account.
  3. Review your backlink profile and select the domains or URLs you want to disavow.
  4. Export your disavow list as a .txt file.
  5. Follow the steps outlined in the previous section to upload your disavow file to Google Search Console.

Why and When Should You Invalidate a Link?

Invalidating a link, also known as disavowing, is necessary when:

  1. Your site has received a manual action from Google due to unnatural links.
  2. You suspect a negative SEO attack with spammy backlinks.
  3. A significant portion of your backlink profile is low-quality or unrelated to your niche.

Invalidating links can protect your site’s search engine rankings and prevent future penalties.

What to Do Before You Invalidate a Link

Before invalidating a link, take these steps:

  1. Identify the problematic backlinks using backlink analysis tools.
  2. Reach out to the linking site’s owner and request link removal.
  3. Keep a record of your outreach efforts to demonstrate to Google that you’ve tried to resolve the issue.
  4. If link removal isn’t possible, proceed with creating a disavow file.

Which Links Should You Declare Invalid?

Declare a link invalid if it meets one or more of the following criteria:

  1. The linking website has a low domain authority or poor content quality.
  2. The link is unrelated to your niche or industry.
  3. The anchor text is spammy or irrelevant.
  4. You suspect the link is part of a negative SEO attack.

By declaring these links invalid, you’ll help preserve your site’s search engine rankings and maintain a healthy backlink profile.

Take a Closer Look at the Bad Links (But Be Careful!)

It’s essential to carefully examine bad links before disavowing them. Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Use backlink analysis tools to identify low-quality or spammy links.
  2. Visit the linking websites and assess their content quality and domain authority.
  3. Keep an eye out for red flags like spammy content, excessive ads, and poor site design.
  4. Be cautious when visiting these sites, as they may contain malware or other security threats. Use browser extensions or tools that offer additional protection.

How to Invalidate Links With Google’s Disavow Tool

To invalidate links using Google’s Disavow Tool, follow these steps:

  1. Create a disavow file containing the domains or URLs you want to invalidate in a plain text format.
  2. Log in to your Google Search Console account and select the appropriate domain.
  3. Navigate to the “Disavow Links” section.
  4. Upload your disavow file and click “Submit.”
  5. Be patient, as it may take several weeks for Google to process your request.

How to stop disavowing backlinks in Google Search Console

To stop disavowing backlinks in Google Search Console, follow these steps:

  1. Remove the unwanted domains or URLs from your disavow file.
  2. Save the updated file in plain text format.
  3. Re-upload the updated disavow file to Google Search Console, following the same steps as previously mentioned.
  4. Google will process the new file, and the removed links will no longer be disavowed.

Is It Possible To Undo A Link Disavow?

Yes, it is possible to undo a link disavow. To do this, simply remove the unwanted domains or URLs from your disavow file and re-upload the updated file to Google Search Console. Google will process the changes, and the previously disavowed links will be reconsidered.

How to check your disavow file

To check your disavow file, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the disavow file on your computer.
  2. Open the file with a text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.
  3. Review the list of domains or URLs to ensure they are correctly formatted and accurately represent the links you want to disavow.
  4. Make any necessary changes and save the updated file.

Can I remove links from a disavow file?

Yes, you can remove links from a disavow file. To do this, open the file with a text editor and delete the unwanted domains or URLs. Save the updated file and re-upload it to Google Search Console. Google will process the new file, and the removed links will no longer be disavowed.

How to create a disavow file

To create a disavow file, follow these steps:

  1. Open a plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.
  2. List each domain or URL you want to disavow on a new line.
  3. To disavow an entire domain, use the format “domain:example.com” (without quotes).
  4. Save the file with a “.txt” extension.

How to submit a disavow file

To submit a disavow file, follow these steps:

  1. Log in to your Google Search Console account.
  2. Select the appropriate domain.
  3. Navigate to the “Disavow Links” section.
  4. Upload your disavow file and click “Submit.”

Using the Disavow Tool after a domain migration

If you’ve migrated your domain and want to disavow links for the new domain, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new disavow file that includes any bad backlinks pointing to your new domain.
  2. Combine the old disavow file with the new one, if necessary.
  3. Submit the updated disavow file through Google Search Console for the new domain.

What Happens When You Disavow A Backlink?

When you disavow a backlink, you’re telling search engines like Google to ignore the link when assessing your site. Disavowing a backlink doesn’t remove it from the internet, but it helps prevent the link from negatively affecting your search engine rankings.

FAQs

What is disavow backlinks?

Disavowing backlinks is a process of telling search engines to ignore specific backlinks when assessing your site’s rankings. It’s typically done to prevent harmful links from negatively impacting your site’s SEO.

How long does Google take to disavow backlinks?

Google may take several weeks to process a disavow request. The exact time varies and can depend on factors like the number of submitted links and Google’s indexing schedule.

Is it worth disavowing backlinks?

Disavowing backlinks can be worth it if you have a significant number of harmful or spammy links pointing to your site. Disavowing these links can help protect your search engine rankings and prevent potential penalties.

What is Google disavow?

Google disavow is a tool within Google Search Console that allows you to submit a list of backlinks you want Google to ignore when assessing your site’s rankings.

Should I disavow URL or domain?

It depends on the situation. If multiple harmful links come from the same domain, it’s more efficient to disavow the entire domain. If the bad link is an isolated case, disavowing the specific URL may be more appropriate.

What are the benefits of disavow links?

Disavowing links can help protect your site’s search engine rankings, prevent potential penalties, and maintain a healthy backlink profile.

How does disavow work?

Disavow works by telling search engines to ignore specified backlinks when assessing your site’s rankings. This helps prevent harmful links from negatively impacting your SEO.

How do I disavow backlinks from a domain?

To disavow backlinks from a domain, create a disavow file listing the domains you want to ignore, using the format “domain:example.com”. Submit the file through Google Search Console’s Disavow Links tool.

How do I make a disavow list?

To make a disavow list, open a plain text editor and list each domain or URL you want to disavow on a new line. Save the file with a “.txt” extension.

What Is Disavow?

Basically, disavowing a link in SEO means that you’re asking Google to discard certain links pointing to your site. These links are those that may be harmful for your backlink profile and possibly hurt your rankings in the future. 

There are a few situations where having to discard backlinks may apply.

It may be an algorithmic penalty, a manual action penalty from Google, or a lot of toxic links pointing to your site. At one point, you might even think it has happened because of negative SEO. 

Generally, you should remove these particular backlinks from Google’s consideration when they rank your site. 


What Does Google Say About It Disavowing?

A lot of websites are very strict when it comes to their backlink profile. Whenever they see one or two spammy backlinks pop up in their profile, they suddenly feel the urge to disavow those links. 

Keep in mind that it’s pretty normal to have a few spammy backlinks in your backlink profile.  Getting these types of random links is just a normal part of being on the Internet.

Since 2012, Google has been consistent about how to use its disavow tool. They say their algorithm is smart enough to detect which links to trust and which ones are spammy. With that, Google doesn’t recommend disavowing links.

In fact, if you haven’t received an algorithm penalty, then there’s not much point using the disavow tool. Disavowing links from your backlink profile just for the sake of traffic, won’t actually make a huge difference.


Should You Use The Disavow Tool?

There are times when you might experience a bad SEO that has built a ton of bad links to your site.

You can end up getting a manual action penalty from Google because of the amount of low-quality links in your backlink profile. If this is the case, then you might want to start disavowing links. 

However, if you occasionally get one or two bad links to your site, you don’t need to worry too much about it because it’s a natural part of having a website. 

Personally, I would suggest that you only use this tool if you have experienced a harsh hit to your traffic because of a penalty. Otherwise, it isn’t really worth your time.

Instead of disavowing links and focusing just on that to grow your website’s traffic, you could try to work out if there are any deeper issues.

If you haven’t gotten a penalty yet but still have very little traffic, it may also be because you have to build more high-quality links, publish more content, or target more keywords. 


How To Get Started? 

First and foremost, it’s actually pretty difficult to find the disavow tool in the Webmaster Tools because it’s not there to be used by all webmaster’s.

It only appears during situations when you have an algorithmic penalty or when something extremely bad has happened to your site.

So what if that time comes when you really need to disavow links? Here are the steps on how to use Google’s disavow tool.

  1. Create a text file with the list of links you want to disavow. (Check the correct format for your text file here : support.google.com/webmasters/answer/2648487?hl=en)
  2. Go over to your Search Console and go to the disavow tool page: google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main.
  3. Choose a URL that you want to disavow links from. Click on the orange button to begin disavowing. Google will then show you a caution message about the advanced feature. If you don’t use it correctly, it can actually harm your website more than it can help you.
  4. Click on “Disavow Links”.
  5. Upload the file containing the links to disavow.

Remember that you won’t be getting an instant reaction and it may even take a few weeks before Google’s algorithm begins discarding the links that you’ve just disavowed.

That also means it won’t impact your rankings straight away, especially if you haven’t received a manual action penalty yet.

Julian Goldie

Julian Goldie

Hey, I'm Julian Goldie! I'm an SEO link builder and founder of Goldie Agency. My mission is to help website owners like you grow your business with SEO!

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