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The Google Disavow Links Tool: How to Tell Google to Ignore Bad Incoming Back Links to Your Website


The Google Disavow Links Tool offers a means for webmasters to inform Google what links leading back to their web pages should be ignored. Unlike the 'nofollow' attribute that applies to links on your own website, the disavow tool refers to links on external web pages that lead back to your web pages. Clickable links to the Google Webmaster Tools sign-up page and the disavow Links tool will be provided at the bottom of this page.

Matt Cutts, Google's web spam czar, makes it clear that this is a power tool for power users and not for ordinary businesses. The Disavow Links Tool should only be used if all attempts to have the webmaster of a site remove links to yours have failed. Here is an explanation in his own words:


There are still questions to ask however, and here are some that you might ask yourself:

Where do these bad links come from?

A number of sources:

Scraper Sites: If you submit your website to web directories, make certain that they are genuine. Some directories will use the 'nofollow' attribute, and many will immediately scrape your website for content to use for its own purposes. If Google recognizes such directories, any links from them might affect your ranking.

Link Farms: Google will severely punish any web page using a link scheme for backlinks. Such sites are typified by selling links, swapping them or even giving them away free. Google spiders can detect such link sources and your web page will suffer as a result.

Reciprocal Links: If you exchange links with others, make sure the link you receive relates to the topic of your page. Even so, Google has publicly stated that excessive reciprocal linking, even between like pages, will be punished.

Link Pages: Many sites that reciprocate links publish such links on specific 'links' pages. These might be named as 'Links' or 'Partners' but Google doesn't like them. In fact, Google dislikes any links that appear to be 'manufactured.' Natural is best in Google's view.

Triangular Linking: A links to B who links to C who links back to A. Google may penalize or even ban such a linking strategy. Also known as 3-way links, these are obviously designed to hid reciprocal links. It takes more than that to fool Google.

Bad Articles:  Poorly written articles that come 10 a penny will do you more harm than good.  If you use article marketing, make sure the articles are well written and on topic with good grammar. Google algorithms are tightening up on the quality of web content.

Scraped Articles:  Google is hunting down articles generated using scraping software that combines scraped content into a single article. This is multiple breach of copyright, anif your article was not hand-written, then you could be in trouble. Such services claim to 'beat Penguin' but the reverse is true. 

Bad Site Links: Links from sites focusing on adult topics, gambling, cheap pharmaceuticals and other sites you would not want your kids to see, are all sure to result in a drop in your PageRank and listing position unless you neutralize them with the Google Disavow Links tool.

Auto-Blogging and Comments Links:  There is a lot of software available that automatically makes comments on other people's blogs, leaving your link on the comment. Google seems to have started to hit these hard with its Penguin update.

Mirror Sites: Some 'webmasters' create mirror sites, or websites all with the same content in order to share links between them, including external links. Make sure you do not have a link published on any of these.

Frame Links: Links published inside 'Frames' will do you no good.  They will get the traffic they attract and you will get nothing in return. .

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but gives you an idea of the type of links you should avoid. If this seems a lot to take in, you should look at it another way. Don't try to learn what you should not do, but focus on what you should do.

You can avoid ever having to use the Disavow Links Tool if you avoid all of the above. Even if you have been guilty of using any of these linking strategies, you may not have to use the tool unless such links are responsible for a significant proportion of your Google ranking position. As Matt Cutts infers, this tool is intended only for professional internet marketers that have been using a wide variety of linking tactics.

But My Links Were on a Highly Ranked Website

That's not easy to answer, because they can come from a number of sources, and they might also have been good links originally, but the site may have degenerated and be regarded as suspicious by Google.

Perhaps the site has been demoted to the 'supplementary' list, and the pages it links to might be equally reduced in ranking. Anything can happen to a website, or even an individual page, to force Google to turn against it. It might also contain links to unsavory or 'adult' sites, in which case your links might be similarly downgraded.

It is important that everybody keeps an eye on their backlink sources. You can do that from your Google Webmaster Tools account - if you don’t have one, get one now.  It is free.

From your Webmasters Tools home page click on the website you want to check (you will be given a list of websites you have submitted to Google Webmaster Tools) then click Traffic>Links to Your Site > Who links the most > More, then click a download button for a full report of link sources.

You click on one of the web pages shown, when you will be given a list of the individual link sources. Each will be clickable so you can visit the page on which the link is published.

You can then select those you believe might be negatively affecting your rankings. You will likely find many of the links are no longer resolvable, with a 404 or OOPs! error. Those that you find working can be analyzed for associated content on the website to ensure that nothing is untoward.

Generally, however, you will need to do nothing, because the requirement to use this tool is minimal, and the vast majority can forget about it - for now, although nobody knows what Google has in mind for the future.  

 Sign up for Google Webmaster Tools here

Click here to access the Google Disavow Links Tool

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