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February 26, 2013

How to Disavow Links in Google and Bing: An Instructional Guide

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To help our clients who would like to use the disavow links tools from Google and Bing, this is an instructional guide.

It’s important to note that Google strongly advises against using the disavow links tool unless it is the last available option and will be implemented by a highly technical power user of Webmaster Tools. Incorrect use of the disavow links tool can harm Google’s evaluation of that site’s rankings and is a difficult process to reverse.

Introduction to Disavow Links

In this 9+ minute video, Google’s ambassador to webmasters and SEOs Matt Cutts tells us why a disavow links tool exists, who might need to use it, and how to use it. It’s a helpful introduction to the topic of harmful links.

Who Might Consider Using Disavow Links Tools

  1. You’ve received a bad link warning in Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Your SEO has identified that your site is affected by the Penguin Update or manual action penalty removing you from search results.
  3. Or you may have identified negative SEO waged against your site.

In the video above, Matt gives some specific examples of the actions that could put you in category #2 in this list. If you’ve paid for links or used spammy comments or article directories to build backlinks, this is you.

First Course of Action: Link Removal

If inbound links are harming a site’s search engine standings, those links should be removed, or at least, an effort must be made to remove them. Bruce Clay, Inc.’s link pruning process is a vetted link removal method that we have used with success for many clients.

The following resources explain our link removal process, from identification of harmful links to contacting linking domains to tracking and reporting the process to Google for reconsideration:

Google and Bing’s Disavow Links Tools

After having exhausted your link removal efforts and made necessary reconsideration request to Google, the Disavow Links tools in Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Webmaster Tools may be a viable option for your situation.

Bing Webmaster Help and How-To use Disavow Links tool

  1. Go to “Configure my site” in Bing Webmaster Tools and then go to “Disavow links” in the following navigation.
  2. Use the Disavow Links tool to select a page, directory or domain you wish to disavow, and then enter the corresponding URL in the “Enter a URL” field.
  3. Click “Disavow”.
  4. The disavow submission will be listed below.
  5. You can delete disavow submissions by checking the box to the left of the listed selection and clicking the “Delete” button.

Bing Disavow Links tool

Google Webmaster Tools explanation of the Disavow links tool

  1. Create a text file (.txt) containing the URL of the links you want to disavow.
  2. Include only one link per line.
  3. To disavow all links from a whole domain, add “domain:” before the link URL of the domain home page (for example, “domain:example.com”)
  4. You may include additional information about links in a line beginning with “#” (for example, “# this webmaster won’t return my requests for removal”).
  5. Signed in to Google Webmaster Tools, visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/disavow-links-main.
  6. Select the domain from a drop down menu for which you are submitting a disavow links list and click the “Disavow Links” button.
  7. Click through the pop-up warning (Google warns against the dangers of improper Disavow use throughout the process) and upload the text file of links you want Google to ignore and click “Submit”.
  8. You’ll see your .txt file listed here. Click “Done” to finish the process.

Google Disavow Links tool

Expect it to take weeks before the disavow is no longer a calculation in your site’s search engine valuation. Again, we stress not to use the Disavow Links tool without guidance from an expert.





4 responses to “How to Disavow Links in Google and Bing: An Instructional Guide”

  1. MicroSourcing writes:

    Google and Bing’s disavow link tools is a great way for site owners to get rid of any links that devalue their web pages. It gives them more control over their link profile as well.

  2. Anupam writes:

    I welcome this Disavow tool, but its really hard to determine if I must use it or not?
    My site has not recieved any bad linking warning or any penalty from Google. There were drop in rankings in all updates Google has made, but they were not any kind of penalty, just some drop due to algorithm change.

    There is possibility that my site is affected by bad SEO, but it would be really difficult to determine which links are poor and which are fine.
    A bit confused!!

  3. Todd writes:

    Hi I was wondering if another website can accumulate bad links and those bad links be transferred to your domain that is linked to the bad links domain?

  4. Virginia Nussey writes:

    Hi Todd, there’s definitely a measure of negative SEO that can be achieved with the calculated accrual of poor value links. Google says they’re good at recognizing that footprint and compensating for it, but experiments have shown it to be effective. If you do think you’re a victim of negative SEO, I’d love to talk more. Reach out :)



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