Internet has both good and bad stuff. You can spend lot of time and publish a quality article on your site. However, a bad backlink to that article will impact the ranking in Google and other search engines. Whenever you found bad links to your site, Disavow links is the final option to inform Google to ignore the the spammy backlinks pointing to their sites. You can use this tool as part of regular site cleanup activity. Here is a step by step explanation of how to use Google disavow links tool for protecting your site from bad inbound links. Learn more on how to disavow links in Bing Webmaster Tools account?
Why Bad Links Pointing to Your Site?
There are many reasons how a bad link can point to your site’s page.
- You might have created links in forums and blogs when you started your website.
- You hired a SEO agency who created a paid backlinks from shaddy websites.
- Competitors can purposely create unnatural links pointing your site to lower the search ranking.
Whatsoever is the reason, it is a good idea to get rid of bad links.
Where Can I See My Bad Links?
In order to find bad links, you should have added and verified your site in Google Search Console account. Google Search Console has a section for monitoring your internal and external links. Earlier, you can do this in Webmaster Tools account under “Traffic > Links to Your Site” section.
The new Google Search Console interface still has the legacy tools to access the links details. You can look under “Legacy tools and reports > Links” section. As you can see on the below screenshot, there is a pornography site linking with 8910 links. You can click on the domain and get the details of each page that points to your site.
Google will penalize the sites for creating paid and unnatural links. If this is the case, you can view the details under “Security & Manual Actions > Manual actions” section.
Before Using Google Disavow Links Tool
If you have manual action, it is necessary to cleanup the links before you use disavow tools.
- First, do the analysis of the links and prepare the details of websites having your links.
- Contact the site owners to remove the link by using the contact form on their site.
- If you know the email address, send the webmaster about the situation and request for removing the links pointing to your site.
- After your attempts, make the final list of sites that still contains bad link.
Note: For manual action case, you need to submit a reconsideration request after your effort in removing the bad links. Learn more about how to submit a reconsideration request.
If you did not receive any manual action and wanted to disavow the links, simply prepare the disavow file for submission. For example, we have contacted the above pornography site owner with screenshot to remove the link. As there was no response, we have no other option disavowing the domain.
You can find pornography, gambling, casino or any other illegal sites pointing to your website and disavow them to protect your site.
How to Submit Disavow Links to Google?
Disavow links option is not available inside Search Console account. However, you need to login to your Search Console account before using the tool using an external link.
Step 1 – Download Inbound Links Details
- The first step is to download all the bad inbound links pointing to your site.
- Login to your Search Console account and go to “Top linking sites” under “Links” section.
- Click on the “Export” button and download the file to your computer.
- You can get the file as CSV, Excel or Google Sheet format
Step 2 – Creating Disavow.txt File
From the list of links downloaded in the Step1, create your own disavow.txt file (you can use any name for the file). Normally when you save a text file in a Notepad it will be saved in ANSI format which is not accepted by Google. Hence, ensure to select UTF-8 format when saving your text file if you use Notepad. The option of selecting UTF-8 when saving your Notepad text file is shown in the below picture:
Similarly, TextEdit on Mac by default uses rich text format when saving files. Go to “Format” menu in TextEdit app and select “Make Plain Text” option. When saving the file, make sure to check the format is in UTF-8.
You have two options to provide the link details in the file:
- Inform Google to ignore the entire domain by adding a line “domain:DOMAIN-NAME.com” in the Disavow links text file.
- Alternatively, enter link by link instead of using the complete domain. Ensure, you use one link per line.
- You can insert comments in the text file using #.
Below is the sample disavow text file and the lines starting with # are comments for reference:
# Remove these Links from spam-site https://www.spam-site.com/spam.html https://www.spam-site.com/junk.html # No response from the domain junk-site.com domain:junk-site.com
Step 3 – Uploading Disavow.txt File
The final step is to upload the Disavow.txt file you created in the Step2.
- Login to your Search Console account.
- Click here to go to the Disavow links tool page (this option is not available inside the account).
Google will display a warning message regarding the potential danger of using the tool. It is important that you use this tool only when you are not able to remove the spammy backlinks in order to raise a reconsideration request and very sure that the links you mentioned in the file are causing a problem for your site ranking. It is not necessary to use this tool if no manual penalty is set on your site by Google or you do not find any suspicious links.
Once you are sure, select your website property from the drop-down. Make sure to select the correct version with or without WWW and HTTP or HTTPS. You can’t select a domain property for disavowing links. Click on the “Upload disavow list” button to continue.
Select the Disavow.txt file you created in the Step2 and submit your file to Google. Earlier, you need to wait for few weeks time for recrawling. Now you don’t see to wait and will see the details instantly after successfully uploading the file. Google will send you an email about the disavow list details.
Step 4: Cancel or Modify the Uploaded File
There could be situations that you have wrongly submitted the file or want to modify the list.
- Anytime, go to the Disavow tool and select your website property.
- You will see the current status of the submission like how many domains and links are disavowed.
- Click on the “Replace” button and upload your new file.
- Alternatively, click on the “Cancel disavowals” button to delete the submitted file.
- You can also download the previously submitted file for reference.
Here is a summary of what you should do and what you should not with disavow link tool:
- Ensure to download links from both WWW and Non-WWW versions of your site to get the complete list of backlinks pointing to your site since these two sites are considered as two different sites by Google.
- Upload only text file and ensure to select UTF-8 encoding format when saving the file.
- Use only links entered per line in the file.
- Add additional information using # in the start of each line.
- Don’t add any additional links not available in the downloaded link file.
- Avoid using Notepad file encoded in ANSI format. If you are using Mac, make sure to create plain text file instead of RTF with TextEdit.
- Don’t upload document or excel file.
- Avoid adding information in the file without #.
- Avoid using complete domain in the file.