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How You and Google Can Use Their Disavow Links Tool to Fight Spam

How Will Google Use Their New Disavow Links Tool?

Google just released a welcome new addition to their webmaster tools. Any SEO who has ever heard a client say "I previously hired an SEO who built me a great link wheel and reciprocal link network but it isn't working as well as it used to" will rest better at night knowing they now have a tool from Google to deal with this dreaded problem.

The facts

  • The tool allows you to disavow links from both entire domains, subdomains, or specific pages
  • Your request may not always be taken into account but in most cases Google will disregard any value passed from the links in question
  • It may take weeks before your request is processed
  • You can include comments about the links

How to use it

  1. Login to Webmaster Tools and click "Traffic" in the side navigation
  2. From there, click "Links to Your Site"
  3. Now click "More" below the "Who links the most" column
  4. Download your latest links
  5. Starting with the time period the bad link-building was done, look for sites that are likely harming your rankings
  6. If at this point you don't know what you're doing, please call a professional
  7. Visit this page
  8. Select the website you wish to disavow links to (shown below)
  9. Now with links in hand, create a text file with one link per line and upload it to the disavow links tool


If you need further assistance, detailed instructions on how to use the tool can be found here.

Who needs to use Google's disavow link tool?

The majority of webmasters will never have to use this tool. The only cases in which to use the disavow links tool is when a company hired an overzealous SEO or when said company moves on to a new SEO firm and that firm needs to clean up the shoddy work done previously.

How Google will use this tool to further fight web spam?

Google's new disavow links tool will surely give Matt Cutts and team much information they can use to further target spam. This is pure speculation, and Google has surprised me in the past with their lack of being able to figure out spam tactics, but here is what I would do with the data gained if I were on Google's web spam team.

  • Wait for site owners, webmasters and SEOs who are concerned that they have been penalized to disavow the spammy links that were built
  • Gather this data from thousands of sites and add to my own internal list of sites and tactics used for web spam
  • Use this information to further improve the quality of search results
  • Wash, rinse and repeat

For further reading, check out Danny Sullivan's article on the new disavow links tool over at Search Engine Land or the post on Search Engine Watch written by Danny Goodwin.