What is the Google Disavow Tool?

Google’s disavow tool allows webmasters to notify Google of poor-quality links pointing to their website that they do not want associated with their site. This helps SEOs tell Google which external links to be considered when Google evaluates ranking factors.

A site publisher may need to use the Google disavow tool if they previously purchased links from a link farm or if there are many spammy or harmful external links. Purchasing links is a violation of Google’s policies and sites can and have suffered penalties for doing so. 

Should I use the Google disavow tool?

If you intend to disavow links, there are a few things you should know before officially disavowing.A guide to the Google disavow link - BrightEdge

You cannot undo a disavow. Once you choose to disavow links, it is disassociated from your site. Be sure to do your research on the external site before choosing to disavow it.

Most sites shouldn’t have to use the disavow tool. While there are plenty of spammy and harmful sites out there, majority of existing sites are healthy and there’s a good chance your site doesn’t need to worry about disavowing.

Using the disavow tool can be risky. What does “risky” mean here? Basically, if you analyze a link to be harmful and you’re wrong about it, you’ve just lost a legitimate link pointing to your site. Since links are a ranking factor for search engines, getting rid of healthy external backlinks could hurt your SEO.

Understand what Google considers bad or harmful links and what they consider good links. Check out Google’s guidelines on links and link schemes for a better understanding.

The history behind Google disavow

SEOs and digital marketers have been aware of the disavow tool since October 2012. But Google’s disavow tool is and has always been obscured to digital marketers. According to John Mueller, Google purposely hides the disavow tool to make it difficult to find because majority of sites do not need it.

In 2012, Google’s Penguin update changed how Google addresses poor-quality backlinks. If your site is caught using any “black hat” link building tactics including link farms, directories or paying for links, Penguin will penalize your site immediately. If your site is penalized, the Google disavow tool can be used to regain rank.

When should I use the Google disavow tool?

You should only use the Google disavow tool if you have enough experience to evaluate a website. Because you can damage your backlink profile if you’re wrong about an external link, it’s important to be knowledgeable about what makes a site spammy or harmful.

In order to find bad links, you can do a backlink hygiene review. BrightEdge is integrated with Majestic, a backlink database that offers high-value link data. You can find backlink data for enterprise SEO efforts using BrightEdge. 

If you’ve found bad links and you’re ready to do work on them, you should consider the disavow tool. If you’ve contacted the link farms you previously used to remove links and they didn’t contact you back, it might be time to tell Google you want to disassociate from that link. 

It’s important to note that you can disavow links and Google will ignore them when evaluating your site, but the links will remain.