How to Disavow Backlinks In 2021

This post can cowl stepwise however And once to use — and when not to use — Google’s Disavow Tool. I’ll additionally touch upon what place it’s in an SEO’s toolset in 2021, given the widespread doubts around its current usefulness.

First, though, a touch background. The deny Tool was launched in late 2012, into an SEO system terribly totally different from the one we tend to add today. The Penguin link-spam update was still very new, and Manual Actions were commonplace. operating in an SEO agency in 2013 and 2014, I keep in mind this being a standard supply of latest business — sites that had been working with a less esteemed agency on link building work would receive a message from Google, and every one or a part of their website would disappear from search results.

They’d come back to us to urge it fixed, and we’d trawl through their portfolio of terrible links, work on a deny file, and interact in what was usually a drawn out back-and-forth, exchanging messages with Google staff through Google Search Console (or Webmaster Tools because it was then).

What was significantly totally different compared to today’s landscape was that generally, if you had been penalized due to link building tactics, you were expressly told, and therefore the plan of action implications were extraordinarily clear and enclosed use of the deny Tool.

Nowadays, it’s terribly, very rare for somebody to urge a manual action. If your traffic drops, you have got no manner of knowing of course whether or not it’s for a few link-based reason, or one thing else entirely. Your traffic might so bounce right back with succeeding Core Update, although you are doing nothing — that’s something I’ve seen happen to various sites. British news site, The Daily Mail, were so confused by this pattern that they’re suing Google over it.

So, during this divergent landscape, is that the deny Tool a dinosaur, or still relevant?

Is the deny Tool still helpful in 2021?

Traffic drops

So now, if you expertise an enormous traffic drop, however you don’t have a manual action, do you have to disavow?

Google looks to mention no. In 2020, Marie Haynes asked Google’s John Mueller if a website might see magnified traffic when victimization the deny Tool, although it failed to have a manual action (i.e. an understandable message in Google Search Console.) John Mueller same such a profit would be “very rare”, primarily suggesting that if sites see benefit after a disavow, it’s in all probability a case of correlation instead of causation.

This builds on previous recommendation from Google to the impact that its algorithms were currently intelligent enough to simply ignore dangerous links, instead of requiring some penalty action.

However, if you have got just seen an enormous traffic drop, you almost certainly wish to hide your bases and take {a look at} everything that may moderately work, right? a wise commencement would be to require a look at your backlink portfolio and see whether, broadly, it looks suspicious. Of course, everybody has some bad links, however are you heavily dependent on them? Are tons of them recent? Own Spam Score is the right metric for this task if you’re stuck, and this post gives a decent walkthrough.

If, when reviewing your own link portfolio, you’re thinking that maybe you merited the traffic drop when all, maybe a deny file ought to be a part of your clean-up plan. however remember: if you were dependent on questionable links, the disavow is meant to wipe those out — that means you’ll need to replace them with some hard-earned, legitimate equivalents.

Proactive disavow

What if your traffic is ok right now, but you’re troubled regarding the skeletons within the closet? maybe you think it’s exceptional you (or your client) is obtaining away with the state of their link portfolio, And it’s an accident waiting to happen? or even you believe somebody is building dodgy-looking links to your website a really} deliberate effort to try and do hurt, or simply for a few unrelated reason that winds up trying dangerous nonetheless?

In these cases, you’ll contemplate a proactive disavow, a lot of} as an “erring on the aspect of caution” measure. I’d advise a very light-weight touch, though, as there’s part here of “don’t fix what isn’t broken”, and it’d be only too straightforward to do more harm than good.

Which links ought to I disavow?

A rough method might look one thing like this:

  1. Use Spam Score to slim down your analysis to links you’re significantly involved about.
  2. Use Excel, Google Sheets, or similar, to rate some links for manual review (if a website links to you 10,000 times, you almost certainly solely ought to review some to urge the idea!). keep in mind at this stage to chop out any links that are unfollowed, expired, 404ed, or otherwise not passing equity.
  3. Look through the links you’ve found, and raise yourself what motive the author might need had for putting them. If you can’t imagine any reason save for money incentive or the site’s security being compromised, you may want to deny that link. If all the links from that domain seem like this, you might want to disavow the domain.
Use Spam Score to slim down your analysis to links you’re significantly involved about.

Once you’ve worked out that links and domains you wish to disavow, you’ll proceed to succeeding step.

How to see your disavow file

You can perpetually transfer your existing disavow file, as long as you have got Google Search Console access. It’s always a decent plan to require a glance at what this contains — at this time several websites have a historic deny file, usually with comments revealing the reasoning and therefore the time that any links were originally added.

You will navigate to the tool here, and choose your site from the dropdown. remember though that the disavow tool is old, therefore it doesn’t support domain properties. Instead, you’ll ought to examine prefixes (e.g. “”, rather than simply “”). It’s terribly probably that unspecified disavow file was uploaded within the era of communications protocol instead of HTTPS too, so you’ll need to ensure your HTTP:// and HTTP://WWW. properties are verified.

Can I take away links from a deny file?

What if you discover some domains {in a|during a|in AN exceedingly|in a very} disavow file that you’re pretty positive shouldn’t be there? I’ve been in things quite an few times wherever I’ve found an previous disavow file that was in all probability created in a little bit of a panic, and maybe disavows a number of the site’s best — and cleanest — links. in an exceedingly few cases, I’ve even seen sites that disavow themselves.

In these cases, I’ve corrected the errors, and that i need to say I’ve seen no positive uplift from doing so. that leaves some attainable explanations:

1. Google ignores disavow files altogether anyway


2. Once a link is disavowed, there’s no going back


3. Google ignores clearly errant entries


4. These sites weren’t in an exceedingly position to learn from additional links anyhow

My suspicion, given my familiarity with the cases i discussed above, is a few combination of answers 3, and 4. These weren’t sites that typically lacked for authority compared to their peers (quite the contrary), however I’d expect disavowing yourself to be a fatal blow if it had any impact at all. the 2 sites that had done this were by no means that dead, therefore i suppose denying yourself has no effect.

So yes, you’ll take away links from a disavow file.

How to form a disavow file

A disavow file is essentially simply a text (.txt or .csv) file. every line within the computer file should be one in all of} the following:

  • A disavowed link, e.g.
  • A disavowed domain (meaning every link from this domain is gone), e.g.
  • A comment (which Google can ignore, however your colleagues might realize helpful in the future), e.g. #New disavows 2021-02-01

Here’s however those might look together:

A few necessary notes:

You can disavow subdomains.


This is especially useful if you have links from some questionable blogspot sites (e.g., however you don’t essentially wish to deny every blogspot site, despite the fact that all of them share a site (

A disavow file should be UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII

If you build your disavow file by pasting from surpass into Notepad, for example, you’d ought to then navigate to “Save As” and ensure it’s like this:

Maximum file size is 2MB, or 100,000 lines

I’ve detected ex-Googlers recommend a 10,000 row limit within the past, but Google’s own official recommendation suggests the larger figure of 100,000 rows.

How to submit a disavow file

  1. Navigate to the tool. It’s currently impossible to navigate to the deny Tool through Google Search Console. Instead, you would like to navigate to
  2. Select the positioning you wish to disavow links for. Remember that you’ll ought to be verified on the relevant prefix property (e.g., as that’s the indexed version of this site — not,, etc.).
  3. Upload your disavow file. Depending on whether or not you antecedently had a disavow file, you’ll get a button locution either “Upload disavow list” or “Replace”. If it’s the latter, ensure you retain a replica of the previous one as backup!

Using the deny Tool when a site migration

In theory, you simply need to deny on the new target domain — there’s no ought to return and update disavow files on previous properties that currently 301 to this canonical version.

For example, there would be no would like for to update the disavow file on:


That will mean that if you have already got a disavow file you’re happy with, and you’re undergoing a planned migration, it’d be a decent plan to bring it with you and re-upload on the new property.

Weighing the risks and benefits

The hazard of the deny Tool is that you just don’t recognize that of your links do additional hurt than smart — if any.

Furthermore, if you truly are engaged in wicked link building practices, there’s a awfully good likelihood that a deny file helps Google to profile the links you build as bad, which can create it even more durable for you to succeed on your next project.

The benefits, meanwhile, are uncertain, poorly documented, and nigh-impossible to test. I even have worked on sites within the past few years that proactively disavowed links then saw improvements, however this sort of SEO activity doesn’t exist in an exceedingly vacuum — numerous Core Updates, challenger changes, offline selling initiatives, and new content came and went within the Maineantime.

Overall, my recommendation would be to use the deny Tool sparingly, and with caution. If you have got links you’re assured do you no good, then ultimately it should place your mind additional comfy if you disavow than if you don’t.

I’d like to hear alternative SEOs’ philosophies on this gray area, though. Let me recognize your thoughts in the comments below.


If you would like to speak to an expert on Backlink don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mobloggy. Their friendly and professional team will be more than happy to help.

Rebecca Ruck founded Mobloggy® in 2009 to help small businesses get found online.
Mobloggy® offers a holistic approach to digital marketing and web design, utilizing industry tools and its many strategic layers.