Introducing DisavowFiles: Free Crowdsourced Tool Brings Google Disavow Link Data to Light
Ever wonder what’s inside the search engines’ black box of disavowed backlink data?
Google and Bing are the only parties who can see the disavow data given to them by site owners. We, the webmaster community, can’t access this data to help us make informed SEO decisions when vetting backlinks, researching sites, or creating our own disavow files, for example.
Let’s change that.
Today we’re launching DisavowFiles, a free, crowdsourced tool aimed at bringing transparency to disavow data. Sign up for free at DisavowFiles.com.
Disavow Files Are a Fact of Life for SEOs
Webmasters have to stay on the defensive in the battle against link spam. The first Google Penguin algorithm update penalizing link manipulation rolled out in 2012. Since then, black-hat linking schemes (such as link farms, buying links, and link comment spam) mostly don’t work.
But Penguin’s side effect for site owners has been harsh: Links from external sites can and do hurt your site — even if you did nothing to create those links. Too many spammy or unnatural-looking links aimed at your site can torpedo your site in the rankings. In the age of Penguin penalties, SEO-minded webmasters have to be vigilant about their sites’ link profiles.
Unfortunately, the process of backlink auditing, removal and disavowal is tedious.
First you have to comb through usually thousands of backlinks, looking at each domain and web page to try to identify the shady ones. Even SEOs who do it all the time can spend days evaluating a new client’s backlink profile. And that’s just the first step!
Next begins the process of contacting the site owner to request the link be removed, tracking the contact, following up to make sure the link is really gone, rinse, repeat. As a last resort, the search engines let you disavow stubborn links. The entire painstaking link pruning process has become an SEO necessity in today’s world of link penalties.
But disavowing links can also be dangerous. We caution users of the search engines’ disavow links tools to always work with a professional and consider the risks of disavowing links before using the tool (should you be seeking assistance at this time, please consider our SEO Penalty Assessment Service).
As SEOs, we do our best to seek and destroy just the bad links without disturbing the good ones that are actually helping a site rank in search results (see our Complete Guide to Disavowing Links for Google and Bing). Webmasters have no way to see how search engines judge their inbound links. Your site could have a horde of hooded bandits pointing links at it, and Google would never tell you.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know which sites have been voted as offenders? And see which links are bad according to everybody else? Enter the new Google disavow tool for link intelligence, DisavowFiles.
What Is DisavowFiles?
DisavowFiles.com is a crowdsourced tool that sheds light on disavow data. To be used with wisdom, it is a Google disavow service that focuses and simplifies the disavow file creation process. DisavowFiles is powered by three elements:
- Many disavow files, submitted by participants into an anonymized database.
- Reliable backlink data for each participating site, pulled from Majestic’s API.
- Software tools and reports that let participants extract useful data.
What’s the Cost?
There is no cost to sign up for DisavowFiles. You share your disavow file with the other members, and you get the tools and reports that you need for free.
To provide a crowdsourced database, we need disavow file data to produce useful results — and the more, the merrier. Crowdsourcing means that the more participating sites that join, the greater the benefit for all. So we’ve thrown the door open wide and invite as many SEOs and webmasters as possible to sign up. We have plans for additional upgrade features in the future. However, the basic service as it is launching today will be free forever.
The idea behind DisavowFiles.com is not to make a profit, but to solve a problem affecting the whole SEO community — a need for better intel to protect our sites from link spam.
What Participants Get
When you join and upload your site’s disavow file to DisavowFiles.com, you will be able to see:
- Whether any backlinks to your site have been disavowed by other participants.
- Whether your site has been disavowed by others in the database.
1. Whether any backlinks to your site have been disavowed by other participants:
You will be able to simply run a tool to see any pages linking to your site that other participating webmasters have vetted as spam. This red-flags links that may be hurting your site’s rankings so you can investigate whether you, too, should disavow the links. Such intelligence may ultimately help a community of webmasters clean up link spam.
2. Whether your site has been disavowed by others in the database:
You will be able to find out whether your domain or any of your web pages have been disavowed. A report tells you which site URLs were disavowed, and how many times, by DisavowFiles participants. Think of this information as a chance to look at your own outbound links and ask whether your site is doing something unnatural that needs to be corrected. Since a site’s link profile includes both inbound and outbound links, this feature could be an eye-opener that saves you from a Penguin eyebrow-raise.
Regular Email Alerts
Ongoing email alerts tell you if there’s any news — any new disavow files uploaded that mention your site, or any backlinks to your pages disavowed by others. This keeps you informed without having to go into the application regularly to check for updates.
This database can also be used to vet external sites as potential link acquisition targets and for competitive research. The Domain Look-up tool lets you type in any domain to see:
- How many times the domain has been disavowed in the database
- Number of external backlinks
- Number of referring domains
- Alexa rank (a measure of site prominence)
- Trust Flow and Citation Flow measurements from Majestic, to help you determine the site’s trustworthiness.
An export function lets you download all your newfound backlink information and other data as a CSV file, so you can work with it in Excel.
Want to check your own site against the DisavowFiles.com database? Try the free look-up.
Privacy for Members, Protection for Data
To make this service work, privacy is paramount. Participants remain anonymous in DisavowFiles. The tools and reports do not reveal the participants’ names or the websites whose disavow files are uploaded. When a disavow file is uploaded, the software automatically anonymizes the source and stores the links separately. Further, DisavowFiles.com is a secure site to help protect everyone.
Protections are built in against bad data entering the database. Similar to the way the search engines’ webmaster tools verify a site, participants will be given a customized HTML file to add to their website. Only if that page is found on the site will DisavowFiles.com then accept an uploaded disavow file. Each file is also put through a series of checks to make sure it is, indeed, a valid file. And to keep the data current, whenever a site uploads a new disavow file, it overwrites the previous one from that site.
Let’s Do This
DisavowFiles started as a wish list tool project at Bruce Clay, Inc. because, in a world of link penalties, why wouldn’t you want more disavow link data? SEOs and site owners can help each other have better intelligence on backlink disavowals with this new crowdsourced tool.
Sign up for free at DisavowFiles.com!