Google's Disavow Tool Does Work, You Just Need To Disavow The Right Links

Nov 9, 2012 • 8:04 am | comments (18) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Disavow Link ToolA few weeks ago, Google officially launched the disavow link tool and webmasters and SEOs have been all over it.

One such webmaster was pretty upset that after she used the tool, she had no successful results. He posted his complaint in a Google Webmaster Help thread saying, "My humble opinion is that Google's disavow tool.... is a utter waste of your time!"

Google's John Mueller didn't like that so he spent a few minutes digging through the URLs he submitted in the disavow tool and the actual URLs he should have submitted in the disavow tool. What he came up with was that this webmaster had tons of URLs he did not disavow that he should have.

John wrote:

I'm sorry to hear about the trouble you've had with your previous SEO. It does appear that there is manual action being taken on your site based on some of the links that are still out there. My recommendation would be to double-check the list that you've used in the disavow links tool, make sure that it's really comprehensive and that it matches what you've worked on removing manually, and then submitting another reconsideration request when you feel ready.

John then went on to specifically call out some of the many bad links pointing to his site.

Did any of you have success with the disavow link tool?

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Daily Search Forum Recap: November 8, 2012



11/09/2012 01:29 pm

i don't see any success

Mike Jeffs

11/09/2012 01:36 pm

The disavow tool does work. The key to using it is the link audit and classification beforehand.


11/09/2012 02:35 pm

I don't see any change :(

Daniel Sodkiewicz

11/09/2012 03:52 pm

nothing here


11/09/2012 05:01 pm

But are we supposed to see any benefit yet? I was under the impression from Matt Cutt’s etc that we needed to wait until after another Penguin refresh to see any benefits?


11/09/2012 05:36 pm

I have only used it once and haven't seen any evidence of it working.

Jeff Downer Indianapolis IN

11/09/2012 06:25 pm

In this instance, I believe a manual penalty is involved and not a Penguin recovery issue. Relief from Penguin after using the disavowal tool is still pending.


11/09/2012 06:28 pm

It freaking worked! After 9 months of trying to recover form an "un-natural" link penalty it was finally removed today. If there is enough interest I can put together a post about. I can say I am on cloud NINE today. No actually recover in rankings as of yet hope to see that in the coming days.

Jobs in Cape Town

11/09/2012 09:48 pm

I guess the outcome will be seen after an update and that is only if you knowingly or miraculously disavowed the right link

Tom Shivers

11/10/2012 02:06 pm

This appears to be another case of interpreting the guidelines accurately so that you don’t hurt your site further with the disavow link tool. Problem is only Google can accurately interpret them.

Deb Dulal Dey

11/10/2012 05:29 pm

she used the tool, she had no successful results. He posted his complaint .. totally confused about the sex of the webmaster .. lolz :(

Deb Dulal Dey

11/10/2012 05:32 pm

and Barry did you check that the blog post of Google also contains some errors .. first they say - "If you’ve been notified of a manual spam action based on “unnatural links” pointing to your site, this tool can help you address the issue. If you haven’t gotten this notification, this tool generally isn’t something you need to worry about." and then they say this - "If your site was affected by the Penguin algorithm update and you believe it might be because you built spammy or low-quality links to your site, you may want to look at your site's backlinks and disavow links that are the result of link schemes that violate Google's guidelines." Google please tell me which version is correct. [I mean they say first this disavow option is for manual penalty and after few paragraphs they say just the opposite .. more over, if this is a manual penalty, why Google needs to recrawl the pages .. man i am not a baby .. if this is manual penalty, I can dare say that this tool will not help u .. please come clear on thing google plz ] ref -

Peter Watson

11/12/2012 02:52 am

How do you know you recovered if it is not reflecting in the serps? After 8 months of link pruning, I submitted my list of urls using the disavow tool on the 17th Oct. No joy as yet!

Sammy the G

11/12/2012 03:04 pm

my site was the victim of a negative SEO campaign with hundreds of low quality exact match links pointing to a section of my site that was doing extremely well but is now not ranking at all for this keyword. Reported the links the day the disavow tool was released but still no joy as of yet :/


11/13/2012 12:54 am

The Bing disavow tool worked within a week. Google tool is a joke


12/04/2012 07:13 am

disavow tool does not work. the choose file button does not respon does anyone else have this problems

Dan Dearden

12/19/2012 05:27 pm

I sent in a disavow on 10/31 for 415 domains, I still have 312 still pointing to my site. I was so happy when they came out with a Disavow Tool, now I'm disappointed.

Gregory Lancaster

06/03/2013 01:04 am

I saw a few studies online that showed the tool is ineffective I am being blasted by spam links right now. Honestly the thing that shocks me more than actually being attacked, is all the websites that allow anyone to post garbage and links! I mean cmon, the sites are trash why not just delete the domain or ban them from googles index?

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