Hello and welcome to the final section of my 7 1/2 part series on Google Webmaster Tools. If you’ve made it this far you should feel pretty comfortable with using all the tools available. In this post I will be discussing the Disavow Tool.
Before I get into how to use this feature I first want to describe what disavow means. Disavow is defined as denying any responsibility towards something. So, how does this apply to our backlinks? When we disavow a link, it sends a signal to Google that we are not responsible for creating that link and would not like to be associated with it. This could be due to low quality links that were created pre-penguin, links that are not related to our content or in some cases, negative SEO.
Not available through the standard menu in Webmaster Tools, the disavow tool can be found here. Since this feature has the ability to cause a lot of damage if not used properly, I’m guessing Google doesn’t want to make it too easy for everyone to find.
When we first click the link above we come across this screen. There is a
warning notice from Google about using this tool. We are advised to try removing the links prior to disavowing them as this will not solve all of our issues. Some ways we can achieve this are manually removing the links ourselves if we have access to them or reaching out to other webmasters and asking them to remove the links to our sites.
Depending on what account we’re logged into, we will see a series of URLs in the drop-down menu to the left of the red (should I press this) button.
Let’s select the account we want to clean up and click DISAVOW LINKS.
The next screen we see contains another disclaimer from Google urging us to use caution when using this feature. Once we are certain that we have a complete list of URLs and/or domains that we want to disavow, we can click Disavow Links.
We see the same cautionary notice on this pop-up that we do on the previous screen. We are asked to upload a *.txt file that has all of the links we would like to disavow.
Remember, to a get a complete list of URLs that are linking to us we can use the tool under search traffic, Links to Your Site.
We can export that list and, after deeply researching the URLs, determine which links are safe and which we would like to disavow.
The file we upload needs to be formatted a certain way otherwise it won’t be accepted. Google provides us with an example of how it should look here.
The hashtag in front of a sentence will comment it out. This means that those lines will not be reviewed as part of the links. Comments are a good way to notate your efforts when removing links; this means that you can list all efforts when contacting webmasters and asking for your link to be removed.
If you do need to disavow any links or domains pointing to your website, please be sure that you are careful and fully research the domain before you submit a disavow request.
On a personal note I would like to thank you all for reading this and taking this journey with me through every area of Google Webmaster Tools. I can only hope that I explained everything thoroughly and extensively enough that you all feel comfortable and confident every time you use these available tools. I look forward to any questions and comments you may have regarding any of this subject matter. Good luck!