When Google rolled out its deadly Penguin algorithm update, it hit hard millions of websites, which were getting backlinks from spammy websites or bad reputation websites. Google razed rankings of all those websites which were connected to bad reputation websites in any way. Google’s motive behind this update was to bring an end to SEO agencies which were selling paid backlinks and as a matter of fact all these links came from the spammy websites or the duplicate content websites.

Disavow Bad Links1

But, as a side effect of this update, thousands of innocent websites or to put in a better way unsuspecting websites too were affected badly, though they were not actually involved in this kind of backlink building strategy. And the reason was simple; “anyone can link you to his website and what you can do to get that link removed was nothing”. So undoubtedly many websites were caught unknowingly and they had to bear the brunt of Google Penguin Update, even if they were not to blame.

Taking this issue into consideration Google soon provided every webmaster with a tool via Google webmaster tools, which was called Disavow tool. With the help of this tool, you can let Google know from what domain or URL you don’t want backlinks to be counted. And thus, this tool gives you full control over incoming links to your website.

Disavow tool link

How Disavow tool works

  • You can access this tool following this link and you must have a Google webmaster account and your site verified in that account
  • Disavow tool accepts a plain text file like robots.txt and you can name this file as disavow.txt
  • All you need to do is to add all low quality backlinks to this file
  • If you are getting a lot of backlinks from one website then add the following line to your disavow.txt;

# spammywebsite.com didn’t listen to our request for link removal

domain: spammywebsite.com   (here replace blue text with the website from which you are getting low quality backlinks)

If you want to disavow link from a specific URL then use this;

#spammywebsite.com removed most of the links, but missed these

http://spammywebsite.com/spammylink.com   (here replace blue text with that URL)

Tip : Google suggests that you attempt to get the spammy links removed first manually by contacting those websites and if they don’t listen to your request then add their domain or specific URL to disavow file. Add a line following # with the reason why you are adding a domain or URL to disavow file. (Lines starting with # are ignored)

An example disavow.txt file

# spammywebsite.com didn’t listen to our request for link removal

domain: spammywebsite.com

#spammywebsite.com removed most of the links, but missed these



# Please remove the following bad links



Every time you need to update the links in your disavow file, you need to re upload the file and it will replace your previously added disavow file.

How to find all backlinks of your website

You can simply get the list of all backlinks in your Google webmaster tool and you can also download all the links in a plain text file. You need to check all the links manually to find out spammy links.

How to detect whether a website is junky or not

Check out the content of the page where your website link is placed. If you find that the content on that page is useful and has been created manually, it should be considered a good web page and it will give a quality backlink to your website. But if you observe that that page contains thin and low quality content or auto generated content, it should be considered a spammy content and clearly your link on that page may harm your ranking. So it should be disavowed.