Google’s Disavow Links Tool: Who’s it for?

Google Disavow Links tool

Yesterday , Google’s very own spam fighting ninja geek, Matt Cutts, took to the stage at Las Vegas convention and announced that (at long last) Google has launched a tool to enable webmasters to disavow links. Shortly after, Google posted this confirmation.

But what is this tool and who’s it aimed at?

What is the disavow links tool?

Google’s disavow links tool is a way for webmasters to essentially ‘disown’ links pointing back to their website from other websites. Webmasters, through their Webmaster Tools account, can upload a file that’s essentially a list of links they want Google to  completely ignore when assessing their website.

Why disavow links?

Links are still a huge influencing factor in determining where a website ranks for any given search term, so why would you remove them?

Because of their importance in rankings, links have been open to a lot of abuse.It’s been common practice for sites in competitive niches in particular to use ‘quick win’ methods of acquiring links by paying people for links on a lot of websites or by taking part in link schemes. This is counter Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines. In the past, such methods worked really well. However, with updates such as Google Penguin and more sophisticated methods of detecting link spam, more websites are finding themselves have manual action taken against them by Google or seeing an algorithmic drop in visibility as the result of poor link building.

Manually removing links from poor quality links can be a really tedious process and it isn’t always possible! Some sites don’t have contact details, while others refuse to respond and some will even  charge you to remove links! In these cases, Webmasters have been asking for the ability to ‘disown’ certain links.


Who is the tool for?

Google was open in saying that for most people, this tool will be irrelevant. But some people this will be an important tool for:

  • Businesses who were penalised as the result of spammy link building by an SEO agency
  • Businesses and websites who’ve been the victim of negative SEO and have been penalised as a result
  • Businesses who hold their hands up to historic ‘less than savoury’ link building methods and want to just clean up!


How do I use the disavow links tool?

Login to your Webmaster Tools account and visit this page. You’ll then be asked to upload a text file with the list of urls or domains whose links to your site you want Google to ignore.


Stacey MacNaught

Stacey MacNaught

Stacey joined us in 2009 as a junior copywriter; now she's a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US - including at MozCon 2014. She leads our search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies.