Backlink Cleaning Using Google’s Disavow Tool [Guide]

google link disavowA couple of weeks ago, Google announced its “disavow” links tool.

A brief background

Google’s primary indicator of site and page quality is something called a backlink (a link from one website to another). It determines which pages ranking in its search results pages.

Throughout Google’s history, some unscrupulous “SEO”s have abused backlinks by buying them in order to achieve ranking.  This is against Google’s guidelines.

With Google’s recent crackdown on link spam though algorithms such as Penguin, the practice of sabotaging competitors by buying low quality paid links has also become prevalent  While Google has always denied that this will harm a website, there is concrete evidence that it does.

Google’s launch of the disavow links tool confirms this.

Watch this Matt Cutts video for more on the Google Disavow links tool.

Quick Guide to Using the Disavow Tool

Below is a very simple 4 step guide for using Google’s disavow links tool.

  • Visit your Google Webmaster Tools Account.  If you don’t have one, now’s a good time to sign up.
  • If you’ve violated Google’s backlink guidelines either intentionally or if you’ve been sabotaged, Google will tell you via a warning message.
  • If you haven’t been warned, don’t worry, there’s no need to use the disavow links tool.
  • If you have been warned, do the following: Download your backlinks report from Webmaster Tools console.
  • Go through them and filter out the spammy ones (you’ll know which ones they are!)
  • Contact the owners of spammy sites and ask them to take your links down (you’ll probably be ignored)
  • Visit the Disavow Links Tool and let Google know which ones you think are spammy. The prompt will look like this:
The format for submitting the report to Google is simple. Submit a plain text file with one URL per line. Here’s an example:
# Contacted owner of on 7/1/2012 to
# ask for link removal but got no response
# Owner of removed most links, but missed these

That’s it. Simple. Good luck.

Over to you…

Have you used Google’s disavow tool?  Has it been effective?  Share your experience and tips

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New Age AdMan & proud father of 2 incredible kids. Omar is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital; a new age brand communications agency. Omar has over 20 years experience in marketing and advertising, the last 10 being in digital within large media agency environments. During that time, Omar developed and implemented cutting edge digital campaigns for some of the world's best known brands. For the latest in digital marketing and industry news updates, follow Omar's Twitter stream (@OmarKattan) or add him to one of your Google+ Circles: Omar Kattan's Google+ Profile.

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