Google’s disavow tool enables website managers to inform Google that they do not want a backlink to be counted or considered when Google reviews the links pointing to their website. This can be useful if there are numerous unnatural or spammy links pointing to a site. Our SEO Office Hours notes below compile advice from Google’s regular video sessions regarding disavow options for poor-quality backlinks.
For more information, read Google Search Central’s guidelines on disavowing spammy backlinks.
Submit Reconsideration Requests Separately For Different Subdomains
Submit reconsideration requests separately if manual actions have been received for different subdomains, and make sure the disavow files are updated for each one.
Google Reconsiders URLs Removed From the Disavow File
Google uses the most current version of a site’s disavow file and will reconsider URLs that have since been removed.
Move Disavow File to Your Separate Mobile Site for Mobile-first Indexing
In the same way that you should move the disavow file across after a domain or HTTPS migration, you should upload the disavow file on your separate mobile site if it was previously uploaded just on your desktop site.
You Can’t Disavow an Entire TLD
There is no way to disavow an entire TLD. John advises against doing this as individual links aren’t reflective of the entire content of a site. Google is also getting better at recognising and ignoring unnatural links itself anyway.
The Disavow File is Only Needed for Manual Action Penalties
The disavow file should mainly be used when there is a manual action to help with the reconsideration request. For sites that don’t have a manual action, Google will try to ignore any manipulative links automatically.
Disavowing Links From Partial Manual Actions Isn’t Necessary
If a site has received a partial manual action for spammy links, these links will have already been taken out of consideration by the Webspam team. In this case, it is up to the webmaster if you want to disavow the spammy links or leave them there.
Google Counts Links When Removed From Disavow Files
Removing URLs from the disavow file means Google will count these links again the next time they are processed.
Disavow Internationalized Domains with Punycode
You can disavow domains with the Punycode versions of internationalized domain names.
Search Console Shows a Sample of the More ‘Relevant’ Backlinks
The backlink data in Search Console is a sampled set of backlinks which Google considers to be more relevant. For small sites, this might include all the backlinks. The data includes links which are nofollowed and may have been disavowed.
Google Penguin Devalues Links Instead of Penalising Them
The new algorithm in Penguin devalues spammy links instead of applying a penalty. Despite this, John says getting rid of disavow completely would be a bad strategy, as you can use the disavow file for any links you do not want to be associated with.