Backlinks disavow actually refers to the process of removing links to your site. As you know, links from other sites to your site is a very important factor that will affect the ranking of your site. However, just as there are links that contribute to a better ranking of a site, so there are those that can harm and put the site at risk of Google penalties.

When and why disavow is used

Disavow is used in two cases. Both of them mean you have poor quality links to your site. Disavow is either a precautionary measure to avoid the site being penalized or a means of trying to remove a penalty from Google.

How is disavow done

Disavow is done by uploading a list of links that you want Google not to account for. The file you create will be submitted to the “disavow links tool” which is part of the Google Search Console. Let’s go through the basic process step by step for the beginning and dive into the details later. There are several actions you need to take and the first step in this process is to list all the links to your site.

  • Creating a list of all backlinks

There are several ways to get to your links. You certainly don’t need to skip the links shown to you by Google Search Console (or Google Webmaster Tools as it used to be), but you can also use paid tools like ahrefs, majestic, open explorer and other. What you need to know is that Google does not display all the links it indexes. It might also confuse you that each of these tools will show you slightly different results, so it is a good idea to use multiple tools to get as many links as you need to check.

  • Checking backlinks

Once you have all the links you found in front of you, you need to check those links. All those you consider harmful, you would enter in the disavow file. The question is, what are the harmful links? Malicious links are all links from sites of dubious quality, primarily on spam sites, made for SEO purposes, then sites that charge for links, penalized sites and the like.

Google is fighting “artificial link building”, and if it estimates that your links were intended, those links will be considered bad. When deciding on the quality of links and removing them, some of the online tools, such as open explorer (which shows a “spam score” for each site) or, for example, link detox, which will point you to risky links, may again help.

  • Creating a Disavow file

Each of the links that you consider to be harmful to your site will be uploaded to the disavow file. There are two options to enter the URL of the site where your link is located eg:

or enter the entire domain to remove all links on all pages of that site, like this:

Take good care to remove all bad links from one site. If you rate one entire site as harmful, do not hesitate to disavow the entire domain. Also, keep in mind that the file to be inserted into the disavow tool must be in .txt format, either UTF-8 format or 7-bit ASCII.

  • Submitting a disavow file

When you finally save the disavow file, all that is left is to insert it into Search Console. The process is very simple. At this link: you will first select your Search Console account and then click on the “disavow links” button to upload your file. If there are any errors in the file itself, this tool will notify you and will not accept the file until all errors have been fixed.

There are a few other things to know about this whole process:

– The effects of this procedure are not instant. It takes some time to give effect

– It is often the case that people disavow links that Google does not consider harmful and thus weaken the ranking of their site (or their client’s site)

– You don’t have to upload links that are nofollow in the disavow file (Google doesn’t count them anyway)

– If you disavow the entire domain, you will disavow all its subdomains as well

– If you have included quality links in the disavow file that are not harmful to your site, you can correct this error by re-entering the disavow file, but without those links

– Links to 404 pages cannot hurt you and you do not need to enter them into a disavow file

– Disavow does not affect other links on the site (which are not entered in the disavow file), as well as the site you have inserted in the disavow file. Think of disavowing as having put a “nofollow” attribute on your link on a given site.

– Don’t expect disavow will solve all your ranking problems. Plenty of other factors are to blame for someone’s poor ranking.

Milos Mudric

Milos Mudric is an SEO consultant and tech enthusiast. He is the founder of Silver Fox Digital and and he occasionally writes interesting stories about SEO, but sometimes also about Blockchain, IoT, Fintech and other topics.