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The Objective and Use of the Google Disavow Links Tool

The Disavow Links Tool was released by Google last October. Its purpose is to enable you to identify low quality links and request that Google not take such links into account when calculating your PageRank. You can therefore reduce the effect of link spam or irrelevant links on your web pages.

What Links Can Harm Your Page Ranking?

Google lists web pages, not entire domains or websites. However, while each page is fundamentally indexed and listed on its own merits, your entire domain could suffer if you are using low quality links on numerous pages.

What is a low quality link? Here are some examples:

Paid links: You have paid for backlinks to be generated by a third party.
Irrelevant links: Links from pages that have no relevance to your target page content.
Reciprocal links: Excessive link exchanges – some may be acceptable, but only Google knows what is ‘excessive.’ This is often associated with the irrelevant links mentioned above.
Low Quality Articles: Links from poorly written articles. If you pay a small amount for a large number of articles they are likely badly written. This will harm your ranking.
Comment Spam: Software-generated comments on other people’s blogs.
Web Spam: Links from web spammer sites.
Automated Links: Software generated links or automated programs that create links.
Contextual Links: You often see these in blue on passages of online text. The links appear to be irrelevant to the topic of the page. These are software generated and can result in your PageRank being reduced and your listing being harmed if they are linked to your website.

Keep in mind that we are discussing links to your web pages. Links from your web pages to spammy sites will also harm your ranking, but you can remove these manually yourself. You cannot remove links published on other websites (more on this below).

When to Use the Disavow Links Tool

Matt Cutts of Google recommends that the Disavow Links Tool be used sparingly and only as a last resort. Matt emphasis that “most people do not need to use this tool.” He describes it as a tool for power users, not the home user or regular business.

He recommends that you use Google Webmaster Tools to get a list of your backlinks and check the most recent first. If you believe that your site or individual pages are being harmed by links over which you have no control, you should ask the webmaster of the other site to remove them. If this fails, then you can use the Disavow tool to flag them so that Google ignores them.

Examples of How Bad Links Can be Generated

You made a charity donation in return for a link that happened to be sandwiched between links to a Pharma company and an adult site.
You made comment on a blog relating to casino gambling, leaving a link back to your pet food page.
You paid for links that were generated from a wide range of websites totally irrelevant to your niche.
You belong to a reciprocal linking service that offers you links in return for you publishing the links of others: in each case they are published on ‘links pages.’
You have links on a site that relates to your niche, but on which many others have disavowed their links. Google may regard this as a suspicious site.

Google, through Matt Cutts, has clearly stated that this tool should be used sparingly and only when necessary. It will not remove the link from another person’s website, but will exclude it from the ranking calculation in much the same way as the ‘nofollow’ attribute does (Matt’s words). It will take about a week to come into effect, but much longer to reverse!


This is not intended as a Google Disavow Links Tool tutorial, but simply to set your mind at rest that it is no big deal to most people. Those that have employed dubious linking strategies in the past, or even that still do so, will have more reason to be interested in it.

What was acceptable many moons ago is not acceptable now, and link-building software services, paid links, auto-blogging and auto-comment services are no longer acceptable to Google. Neither are badly written articles with poor content and grammar, and articles created by scraping the web. You may want to disavow links from such publications.

Google has intensified its campaign against such automatic generation of content and is seeking natural hand-written articles and website information. The Google Disavow Links Tool is just one more way of Google enabling you to meet its requirements. In the words of Matt Cutts himself: “Most need not use it – only a very small number of people, and if used indiscriminately you could shoot yourself in the foot.”

Article by Peter Nisbet. If you are concerned about the Google Disavow Links Tool then check out Pete’s website, Article Services. Pete offers and article writing and high quality article submission service second to none that provides you with genuine links that will improve your PageRank and search engine listing position.

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