Things to Consider When Creating a Disavow File

Bad links or unnatural links could be pointing to your website, hurting its reputation in the eyes of search engines—most notably Google. They can eventually push your rankings down and cause you to lose a lot of online business. How do you deal with these bad links? The solution may be to create a disavow file. We have some tips to help you use this strategy to its full potential.

How Does the Disavow Tool Work?

The traditional way of removing bad links is labor-intensive and time-consuming; you have to contact the webmasters of the sites linking to you and politely ask them to take down the link. They may or may not respond. It might take months for them to even see your request, and they may also refuse to take the link down. In other words, you are completely at their mercy.




Using Google’s disavow tool gives you some of the power back. ‘Disavowing’ links lets Google know that you do not want those links to pass ranking signals to your website. When you disavow a link, you are basically telling Google to ignore it because it does not conform to quality guidelines and you are unable to remove it manually.

In its simplest terms, the process of disavowing involves creating a disavow file and sending it to Google. It’s a lot more complicated than that, though. To ensure that your disavow request will not be ignored, you need to carefully follow the steps that Google requires. You also need to keep the following tips in mind:

1. Make an audit spreadsheet to check which links are truly ‘bad.’

Use a third party service to get a list of all your incoming links. Some of the best services can organize the links into a format that is easier to read and manage. If your website has over a thousand domains linking to it, consider using Majestic.Com,, or You can then combine the links into a single spreadsheet such as Google Docs or MS Excel. From there, you can break the URLs down to subdomain level, eliminate duplicates, and audit.

2. Use the disavow file with caution.

Using Google’s disavow tool incorrectly can potentially harm the entire performance of your site in the search results. Google recommends disavowing backlinks only if you think that there are plenty of artificial, low-quality, and spammy links pointing to your website, and if you think that these links are causing issues.

3. Remember: The disavow file will be processed completely by a machine, not a person.

Google employees will not read your disavow file. It goes through an automated process. Hence, comments are merely for your use—no one else will see them. Insert comments only where they might be useful for you, such as when you edit the disavow file later. Don’t forget to use Textedit (Mac) or Notepad (Windows) to create a text file.

4. Uploading a new disavow file will completely rewrite the old file.

If you want to add new domains to your disavow list, simply update your old file and add the new links, then re-upload that edited file.

5. As soon as you upload the file, Google applies the disavow commands to each link as it crawls the internet.

A nofollow tag will be applied and those links will no longer be given weight in the algorithmic calculations for your website. Take note, however, that if your website has been slapped by Penguin, you are not likely to see the changes immediately. You must wait until Google runs the algorithm and gathers new data about your links.

SEOValley™ can guide you through the intricacies of creating and uploading a disavow file for Google. Our team of SEO experts possess the perfect blend of strategic thinking, knowledge, and innovative approach to help you improve your website and search ranking. Contact us today and request a free SEO analysis in our website.