Last Updated On February 27, 2023

Google Disavow Tool Hidden Facts: When and How You Should Use It?

Google Disavow Tool Hidden Facts: When and How You Should Use It?
By Team TIS

Google Disavow Tool also known as “Google Disavow Links Tool” is obviously one of its most inexplicable tools of Google since its announcement in October 2012. By helping publishers to tell Google about certain links that they don’t want the search engine giant to consider while ranking their websites in search queries, there are still many hidden facts about this tool that needs to be unfolded to get a clear understanding of the Google Disavow Links tool.

But before unfolding these hidden facts, here is a video in which Google’s Matt Cutts explains the working of this tool:

For most Webmasters, this tool acts as a lifesaver as it helps in getting you to get out of Google’s penalty list by removing the links that you don’t want to get considered while ranking your website. However, the main query which has to be answered first is when and how the Google Disavow tool is used by webmasters.

When and How The Google Disavow Tool Is Used?

  • If your site has received a manual penalty from Google
  • If your site has received an algorithmic penalty from Google
  • In the process of routine examination of your site’s spammy links and their removal

When it comes to how to use this tool effectively, there are a few important steps listed as follows:

1. Open the Google Search Console Tool and assemble your earlier SEO work reports.

2. Identify the “Spammy Links” of your website using any of these three tools mentioned below:

  • You can get the spammy links for free using this tool and only you need to verify your website.
  • Being a Moz tool, you can use it occasionally for recognizing the toxic and spammy links to your website.
  • You can use this paid tool to find those links that have not been found through any other sources.

Apart from this, you can also identify the spammy links by checking:

  • Site-wide links
  • Link Networks
  • Blog Links
  • Anchor Text Distribution
  • Forum links/ Blog Comments
  • Web Directories links
  • Article Directories links
  • Footer links

3. Categorize your identified links into an Excel spreadsheet as spammy, low-quality, and bad links.  Moreover, you can also contact the concerned webmasters using tools like LinkDelete and RMOOV to request the deletion of these toxic links.

Note: Google gives more value to disavowing those requests that have done extra efforts to remove their links before submitting them for disavowing.

4. Take two weeks’ time for checking the links that you have already submitted for removal to create a text file for submitting to the Disavow tool. The file type must be .txt and it should contain only those links that have been attempted to remove earlier as well.

5. Use # for mentioning a comment about the failing efforts for removing those links.

The disavow file should be declared legit by Google only if has the following format:

Note: For disavowing the complete domain from where you are getting bad links, you can mention in the disavow file in the format domain:

1. Disavowed Links Might Appear In Webmaster Tools

The most common question popping in minds of many webmasters while using this tool is, I have submitted the links in the Google Disavow Links tool, but they are still visible in my Webmaster Tools backlinks, why is it so? Most webmasters ask this question in different forums and the answer to this query is that disavowed links might still appear in Webmaster tools backlinks even after it is considered invisible by Google itself. Google’s John Muller has also said in a post that the disavowed links will still appear in Webmaster tool backlinks:

The concept behind their appearance even after their disavow is when the links are disavowed by Google, the next time when Google crawl them, it adds an imperceptible no-follow tag to the links, and hence, just like your no-followed links are noticeable in the Webmaster tool backlinks, these disavowed links still appear in the list of Webmaster tool

2. Disavow File has Size Limit

There is a size limit to the Disavow file, but this is not going to hamper your links submission capacity for disavowing the spammed links because it has a 2 Megabytes size limit, which is quite large enough to accommodate 1,000 full-size pages of text. It clearly means that you cannot reach anywhere to its full size when it comes to spam links submission for disavowing.

The size is sufficient enough to hold as many links as you want and you have not to worry about the restricted size limit when it comes to saving your website from Google’s penalty by submitting Spam links. The format of saving the spam links in the file for disavowing will be done by means of domain: format as given below:

  • domain:
  • domain:
  • domain:

You can mix these formats in a single file, as shown in Google’s blog post example for this tool:

The lines with # are taken as Comments by Google and are ignored, but if you want to update the file or include more changes, you have the option to download the existing file, make the changes and then upload this file with the required changes.

3. No-followed Links Shouldn’t Be Included in Disavow File

No-followed links are those links that have no effect on your website’s performance and ranking and according to Google; you have no need to include the no-followed links in the Disavowed tool file. But why this is not necessary? It is just because when you submit the no-followed links in the Disavowed file, Google will treat them in the same way as it treats the other no-followed links, and hence, including a link that is already considered unimportant for your website is of no use in the Disavowed file because it will unnecessary occupy the size of your file without any significant use.

The answer given by John Muller when a user asks about whether to add the no-followed links in a disavowed file or not is:

You don’t need to include the no-follow links because essentially what happens with the links that you submit as disavow when we recrawl them we treat them similarly to other no-followed links. Including a no-follow link, there wouldn’t be necessary.”

4. You Can Get Back the Disavowed Links

Most of the time, committing errors while submitting links to the Disavowed file is a common mistake and if you have also experienced this, don’t worry as you can easily download the existing file, remove the file from there and re-upload the file again. When Google crawls over the link the next time, it will start counting the link for your page ranking in future search queries.

However, you have to remain careful while getting back the disavowed links because if they have been considered Spam links in the eye of Google, then you will get penalized for removing those links from your disavow file and you will have to work hard to get out of Google penalty.

As soon as your open the Disavow tool, you will get the caution notice regarding its use:

You should only try to get back the disavowed links only in the case when you have disavowed the complete domain from where you are sure about getting a natural link to your website. In such a case, instead of disavowing the entire domain of the site, only include the URL that causes a penalty for your website in the disavow file.

5. Disavowed Data Is Not Used Against Your Website as a Spam Report

This is one of the most common perceptions held by many website owners that Google is collecting the disavowed links to use it as a mass spam report for putting penalties on their websites. However, this is not true at all since Google’s John Muller has also said in his statement that the disavowed links are not used again websites for penalizing them because there could be different reasons for disavowing a link as it could happen at times when the site is perfectly good but the advertisements on the site are passing through the Page Ranks without any knowledge of the webmaster.

However, at present Google is not using this data against the website, but it might be possible that it will use this data in updating its search engine algorithms in the future to remove the false positive sites.


Altogether, the Google Disavow Links tool is an advanced tool and needs thorough understanding and knowledge before its use since using it in an improper way might affect or harm your website. If you will keep all the hidden facts about this tool in your mind while using it, you might save your website from getting harmed and can improve your site’s overall ranking in Google’s search queries.

So, to conclude, I would suggest you to use the Disavow tool with complete discretion and in an economical manner. If you have certain links which are of no use to you, then you can surely disavow them as it will put your mind at more ease instead of when you don’t. If you hold a good experience of using this inexplicable tool of Google and know any other important facts about it, you could mention them in the comment section.

For any expert advice or professional support on the use of the Disavow tool, please feel free to connect with a specialist from TIS India and we will be happy to help!

By Team TIS
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