Creating a disavow file and uploading it to Google Search Console is the first step in invalidating links to your domain. The disavow file is usually created with link audit tools like LinkResearchTools Recover or Link Detox.
Disavow File Format
Upload of the disavow file is only possible via a hidden link to the Google Search Console.
Following example illustrates what Google mentions expect for a disavow file:
#Example of a URL
#Example for a whole domain
Using this method, you can disavow unwanted links that have come to breach Google’s guidelines.
This means that
- Toxic links disavowed will help to improve rankings
- but Good links disavowed will certainly cause a drop in rankings. Therefore a high Backlink Profile Coverage and precision in the Link Audit Work is required.
Delayed Disavow Effect
After upload of the disavow file to Google, it still takes time until Google has crawled all the affected links.
It may take some time for Google to process the information you’ve uploaded. In particular, this information will be incorporated into our index as we recrawl the web and reprocess the pages that we see, which can take a number of weeks. These links will continue to be shown in the Search Console inbound links section.
After Google has finally crawled and processed those disavowed links, it will then no longer take those links into account for ranking the domain.
To speed up the process of crawling these specific disavowed links, the tool "Link Detox Boost" by LinkResearchTools was released in 2013, which not only triggers crawls, but also measures the effect it has, i.e. if the links were actually crawled by Google bot.
Single Disavow File
Uploading a new disavow file will always replace all previously uploaded ones. This means it always needs to contain all the links and domains that shall be disavowed, not a delta.
That's why a central disavow database like in LinkResearchTools (LRT) is so important for consistent and reliable work.
So once you have your initial disavow file in LRT just continue working let us maintain it without worries. Whenever you download it, you will get the most current and complete disavow file.
It is possible to reverse the effect of disavowing a link.
By removing links from the disavow file (Undisavow) and following "Boost", accidentally disavowed good links can be put into effect again.
The process of looking for good links that were actually disavowed, for the purpose of undisavow is also called "Disavow File Audit".
You can undisavow similar to the normal disavow in your link audit process.
Disavow Links Process: Link Audit
The full process to disavow links, therefore, is recommended as
- Perform a complete link audit
- Create a disavow file
- Upload the disavow file to Google Search Console
- Wait 48 hours
- Run Link Detox Boost
- You can verify with Link Detox Boost that all links were crawled by Google. Only then the disavow command has been factored in.
The 48 hours delay is used as a "safety buffer" to give Google more than enough time to distribute the disavow file to all Googlebot crawler nodes and data centers. In the event that the disavow file is NOT present, but the Googlebot already gets pushed to crawl spammy links that could have very negative consequences.
Should I Disavow or Remove Links?
In the past it was not clear if Disavowing Links would suffice, because Google communicated that they always require links to be removed.
While Experience has shown, that Disavow suffices in most cases, it is recommended to
- First disavow any bad links
- Use Link Detox Boost on the disavow file
- Wait for recovery and perform outreach anyways to get shady links removed, as they may still appear on other parts of the web.