Skip to content

Erase Link Building Mistakes with the Google Disavow Tool

Erase Link Building Mistakes with the Google Disavow Tool

It’s no secret that Google is changing the face of SEO, especially with the releases of their Panda and Penguin updates over the last few years. They’ve made strides to phase out old-school, spammy SEO tactics like poor quality link building, keyword stuffing, poor quality guest blogging or blog commenting, and overuse of exact-match anchor text in order to produce search results that would truly satisfy their users. After these updates, particularly the rolling out of Penguin 2.0, many webmasters found that their rankings had sunk; they were treading water and unsure of how to recover.

Google Throws Webmasters a Life Float

As frustrating as the volatility of Google rankings can be, particularly after the introduction of yet another update, it’s important to remember Google isn’t out to get you. They simply want to provide the most satisfying results for their users and they are willing to share advice with webmasters on how to create sites that satisfy. The search offers guidance and tools to help webmasters straighten out their SEO and undo any improper tactics they (or an outsourced SEO company) may have engaged in the past. The tool that tops the list: the Disavow Tool.

Defining the Disavow Tool

Google’s Disavow Tool allows webmasters to communicate to Google the backlinks from which they wish to disassociate. Backlinks (also known as inbound links, incoming links or inlinks), in layman’s terms, are links to your website on another website. Google’s PageRank, one of over 200 factors it uses to produce relevant search results, considers the backlinks of a site in quantity, quality, and relevancy. If Google sees that you have a large number of poor quality or irrelevant backlinks (that may have been paid for by a black hat SEO for instance) then you will be penalized and your site will with pushed down in the rankings. However, if you have used the Disavow Tool to let Google know that these are links that you would not like to be considered, they will be far more lenient.

How To Disavow Links

Disavowing links properly requires the completion of three steps: identifying poor quality links, requesting their removal directly from their webmasters and submitting a final list of links to be removed to Google. Let’s break these tasks down step-by-step.

  • Step 1: Identify Poor Quality Links

    First you will need to log into your Webmaster Tools account. Choose the site that you’d like to Disavow links for, if you manage multiple sites on your account. Then choose Search Traffic on your Dashboard and click Links to Your site in the drop down menu. Next click the “More” link under the “Who links the most” list. When you navigate to the longer list, click “Download More Sample links.” This will give you a list of all of the domains that link to your site, along with the number of links and linked pages. Go through this list and highlight any questionable links – i.e. spammy sounding domains, irrelevant sites etc. If you aren’t sure if a site is poor quality, run it through a page rank checker.

  • Step 2: Contact Inbound Site’s Webmasters

    Once you’ve identified the backlinks that you’d like to have removed you should contact the webmasters of these sites and ask them to remove the links. Google wants to see that you have made an effort to remove the links naturally before resorting to the Disavow tool. In fact, they would prefer that webmasters keep the use of this tool to a minimum and put the following disclaimer on it:


    Be sure to document your correspondence with these webmasters. Keep a document with the days you contacted them, the number of links you asked to be removed, and their contact information.

  • Step 3: Create a Text File and Upload to Google Disavow

    The final step is to list all of the links that you’d like to disavow in a text (.txt) file and upload that List to Google Disavow. You can list links individually or disavow all of the links from a domain by putting the word “domain” and a period in front of the url, for example You should also add notes for Google letting them know that you tried to have these links removed naturally. Just be sure to add the “#” symbol at the beginning of these lines of description. Your document should look like this:


If you’ve worked with a questionable SEO company in the past or you just haven’t checked your backlinks in a while, run a report and scan through your links. Invest in your website; identifying and disavowing poor quality links gets you one step closer to the page ranking you deserve.

Share This:

Book FREE Trial

We know that getting back into fitness is tough! Let us help you achieve your weight boxing workouts.

Creative Director/Senior Designer

Tom DiGrazia

With over a decade and a half of professional design experience, Tom brings his knowledge of design principles and focus on user experience to every aspect of his contribution to TTG. Paying special attention to each client’s brand, personalized needs and individual interests, he strives to create compelling concepts utilizing intuitive and highly-refined design solutions. In addition to traditional and digital design work and oversight at TTG, Tom also boasts a wide portfolio of web development projects with the company, allowing him to stretch his CSS and HTML skills across multiple platforms and disciplines. He feels that being a designer in the digital landscape of websites, eCommerce solutions, email marketing platforms and social media, it is important to understand the code that goes into these areas as it assists his ability to tailor designs specifically targeted to achieve the best end result and further builds understanding and communication with backend development teams.

In his off hours, Tom is an avid pop culture enthusiast, staying up to date on the latest shows, films, comics and games. He can also typically be found taking part in a whole host of artistic activities that help him further stretch his creative legs. Regardless of the activity, Tom is always accompanied by his dog, Eli, and his cat, Tib.

Design, Photography, Illustration, Digital Imagery Manipulation, Wesbite Development

Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Lightroom, HTML/CSS, Wordpress


Courtney Dumont

As Senior Marketing Strategist & Analyst at Technology Therapy Group, Courtney is energized by the ability to flex both her left and right brain daily. Courtney discovered her passion for Marketing at Bryant University, where she spearheaded research on students’ perceptions of Social Media Marketing for her Honors Capstone Project. After graduating Bryant in 2012, she joined the Technology Therapy team, where she’s honed her skills in social media, search and social advertising, email marketing, SEO, and more.

Since joining the team, Courtney has created digital marketing strategies and managed campaigns for clients across the country, ranging from plastic surgery centers, to jewelry stores, to construction companies. With a cohesive, cross-channel approach and a focus on data-driven decision making, she has increased their leads by up to 217%. But Courtney doesn’t leave her zeal for social media at the office; she also runs a local foodie Instagram account with her husband to document their meals across Rhode Island and beyond. Check them out: @hoppilyfed.

Marketing Strategy, Data Analysis, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Social Media

Google Analytics, Google Ads, Facebook Ads, Facebook Creator Studio, Instagram, Klaviyo, Mailchimp, Emma Mail, Google Data Studio, WordPress, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook, Microsoft Office