Google's Matt Cutts On Disavow Tool Mistakes

Jun 11, 2013 • 8:53 am | comments (31) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

Google Disavow Link ToolGoogle's Matt Cutts posted a video the other day explaining the top six or so mistakes that SEOs and webmasters make when using the disavow tool.

By far, the most common mistake is uploading anything but text (TXT) files. Many upload Word documents or Excel files, they should not - you should only upload TXT files.

Here is the video followed by the six most common disavow tool mistakes:

(1) File you upload should be a regular text file only. No syntax, etc. People often upload word docs, excel spreadsheets, etc. Just upload a text file.

(2) Typically, the first attempt by users are to be very specific and fine tuned with their individual urls. Instead use a domain: command and disavow the whole site. That is often better. See our machete story.

(3) Wrong syntax is another common issue, use the right syntax.

(4) Do not write the story on why you are disavowing in the disavow text file. Do that instead in the reconsideration request, not in the text file.

(5) With that, when you do that, they use comment out tags. So don't add lots or any comments, it will increase the chance of errors on Google's parser.

(6) The disavow is not the be all and end all. It will not cure all your URLs. Clean up your links outside of the disavow tool as well, don't just go this route.

Kaspar Szymanski, a member of the Google web spam team said on Google+:

As I'm involved in the reconsideration request process, let me tell you this a very important video to watch for any webmaster who has experienced spammy backlinks issues.

Forum discussion at Google+.

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Praveen Sharma

06/11/2013 01:03 pm

6th one killed all your hopes - Disavow Tool is not Enough. hahaha :)


06/11/2013 01:15 pm

omg, these videos became really annoying. Probably that's why it took them a YEAR !!! to create Penguin 2 ... ? Too busy schedule in Google-wood ?


06/11/2013 01:28 pm

They seem to take a day or afternoon and produce whole batches of these at once. They do get annoying though, I make sure to check for something of interest but I am usually left thinking, 'no shit...and?'


06/11/2013 01:32 pm

I have noticed something interesting today. Links which I could not get removed from the web and I have then entered in to the Disavow Links Tools have actually disappeared from Links To Your Site in Webmaster Tools. This has only happened within the last day or so, and these links do still exist on the web.


06/11/2013 02:02 pm

Why would any trust a Paid Liar like Matt Cutts?? They have been lying for ages, especially about Panda and Penguin. Now they keep inventing reason for non-recoveries to buy themselves even more time and cover up. Panda and Penguin were designed to make Google more money via ad clicks and to force sites to advertise. Pand and Penguin made Google a fortune, because people are clicking on ads (results are worst) and sites are being forced to advertise (lost traffic.) Matt Cutts is a hired hand, he mouths of whatever they tell him too. Like denying the NSA spying

grey hat

06/11/2013 02:09 pm

>> *(6) The disavow is not the be all and end all. It will not cure all your URLs. Clean up your links outside of the disavow tool as well, don't just go this route.* They are taking for a ride. There is no recovery for 99.99%, they are saying do this and that ...and it may not help. Start fresh and black hat. New disposable sites. The only times I made serious money was when I didn't listen to Mutt Cutts. My "white hat" sites lost 90% of Google traffic anyway, even though I followed the rules.

SEO sucks

06/11/2013 03:10 pm

So when you do a single link from a site, is it alright to put the "http://" before or should i just be putting "" like Cutts mentioned?


06/11/2013 03:25 pm

Point 6 says all: "... it will not cure..." and that is truth from my experience. I learnt that using disavow tool doesn't make sense. It's a big waste of time, time that I could have used better creating fresh content. What's your problem, Google?!? If your algos think a link is bad, just devalue it. Point. Do not punish. Don't be evil. End of story.


06/11/2013 04:05 pm

I tend to agree with the guy who said ignore what google says and does and just do your own thing. In this day and age that means spam the hell out of the web in the short term and just keep rinsing and repeating. Forget google even exists as something that is going to help you long term with one site and just throw everything you can non stop at the web and let google sort out their own crap. Google are happy making their money their way. Let´s all get happy making our money our way.

Graham Ginsberg

06/11/2013 04:35 pm

A good friend that watches his rankings closely noticed a plummet in Google rankings over the weekend. An instant drop. It recovered early on in the following week. What changed? All he did was switch off his Google Adwords campaign, which he pays minimally for. Apparently about $200/mo - Google is bought cheap. Apparently Google will give you nice 'natural' rankings IF YOU PAY THEM. Honest to God truth, I found a piece of toilet paper stuck on my shoe and it had the name "ethalon" on it. I predict that "ethalon" will say something negative about this, even though its true and honest.

Graham Ginsberg

06/11/2013 04:38 pm

All the Disavow Tool is, is a snitch tool informing Google on spam sites. You are doings Google's work. Something its algorithm cannot do itself


06/11/2013 04:56 pm

We should all give google a constant spammy fingered bitch slap. I for one am sick of being bitch slapped by google no matter how clean my house is. If we all decide to spam spam spam and to hell with googles busted up, good for nothing, search results we will beat the hell out of google as a flash mob. The tables will be turned and instead of me and you getting a regular bitch slap, google will be so busy with rubber bands and gaffer tape trying to hold together the remnants of it´s search engine it will be begging us to stop. Let us all claim back OUR internet by showing google what a piece of junk it is. If google thinks it has a problem with spam today, just imagine the mess all us clean site owners going darkside will have on it. Im off to spend some time learning so spam tricks. Even it it fails I will be no worse off than I am now.


06/11/2013 04:59 pm

Honest to god conjecture from someone who routinely posts over-the-top and uninformed statements about which he can not possibly know. Correlation does not equal causation.

Graham Ginsberg

06/11/2013 05:58 pm

What is worse Google or those Google cheerleaders that spam the internet?

Mike Kalil

06/11/2013 08:02 pm

I'm not saying that's not true, but one "good friend" isn't a large enough sample to prove anything.


06/11/2013 08:07 pm

Sorry Google, the game's up. PRISM was the last straw for many of us. Who would use your products now? You guys suck. YOU guys are exploiters and manipulators who lied to YOUR customers about privacy. Gmail, Google search, Docs, Drive - these products are tarnished beyond repair now. We have no privacy with Google, and you cannot be trusted. As for "gaming" your SERPs? Ha! You guys game and exploit the tax systems in every country you do business in. You have ZERO ethics and ZERO moral authority. Matt Cutts, get back to the hackernews forums and keep denying your knowledge of PRISM - keep digging that hole.

Graham Ginsberg

06/11/2013 09:56 pm

You can start that flash mob with a hashtag - I suggested #blockgoogle


06/11/2013 11:19 pm

at which point those sources are de-indexed and the links to your site for which you were punished count for nothing. Which ultimately gives you the result you initially desired. It seems to me to be a legit workaround to a conundrum their algorithm couldn't solve


06/11/2013 11:38 pm

The one piece of advice Google gave is something all should hold dear. Do not build websites for search engines! This means do not use Google's Webmaster Tools and remove products/services that support search engines. How can anyone believe anything this company says when they denied knowing about PRISM yet government officials said that Google knew? It's what I call Googlement - Government and Google laying in the same bed creating havoc on the world, the economy and our lives. Back to the penalty issue... If you were a big corporation your penalty would be revoked in 2-4 weeks. If you are a member of Google lobbying group named the "Internet Association," you have no worries because you are not only whitelisted but get a domain name crowding boost. If you are a small business, waste half your life away using this tool, submit multiple reconsideration requests that get denied and finally give up. The deck is stacked against small businesses and has been tilted to benefit the select few. Google is more corrupt than the people they claim to be battling.

Alan Smith

06/12/2013 05:22 am

I use "#" when i need to comment in txt file for Disavow tool


06/12/2013 05:24 am

So what sites constitute "bad links"? Go ahead Google and come clean. Don't be so mysterious. Are Pinterest links "bad links"?


06/12/2013 06:38 am

It is better to disallow your whole website to Google instead of disavow links. Now it's not trust worthy. Seems Matt totally confused that's why he taking wrong decisions from the last year.

Khalid Irfan

06/12/2013 08:05 am

Go home google, you are drunk.

A Vipin Sharma

06/12/2013 11:08 am

Google, do you actually have such tool working or making fool, I did the same as soon as it was launched and there is nothing done till date. Or you charge under the table????

Adam Robinson

06/12/2013 03:41 pm

I will say this time and time again! Google need to Ignore spam and low quality links, don't give them any value! This means we wouldn't have to do Google's work for them and spammers wouldn't see the need to spam! Spam links would be useless! If Google can pick up on spam links and penalize, it sure can ignore them! Its that simple Mr Cutts.

Adam Robinson

06/12/2013 03:44 pm

Yes, very ambiguous! No clear guidelines, nothing. Just use carefully and now like a machete. Plus people are getting this wrong, its a sh*t mess. This is what Google want!

Deyan Shkodrov

06/14/2013 12:45 am

I noticed the same thing happening but even without using disavow tools so I think Google simply decide to remove a lot of our back links .


06/16/2013 09:17 pm

I agree. I have seen changes in my webmaster tools after submitting disavow around May 1st. The week of June 12th, I seen in WMT links gone. At first I though it was a bug but from what I've read elsewhere most of the people talking about the backlink data drop are people who have been hit by penguin 1 or 2 and for many they have also filed a disavow. So I hope that means google is processing the file and getting ready to release penalties once the algo is ran again. At the same time, I don't see why put a penalty in the first place. Just discount the bad links and let the site run on the merit of the good links it does have. So it is kind of stupid for google to have us disavowing items that they have already discounted anyway. So basically the penalty goes beyond the bad links and just punishes you across the board. So basically they say screw your good links we are just going to drop all your serps. That is evil.

Juan Manuel Garrido

06/22/2013 05:54 pm

Nice Spam Trap!

Himanshu Bhatt

12/13/2013 05:54 am

Hey Guys any one has got any idea how to check if google has really added the links which we have added in the disavow links - how can we check whether they have been ignored or not hurting us anymore?

David Lalumendre

04/11/2014 03:41 am

AbeYippun, I had a client in 3rd quarter of 2013 that had a manual penalty. We had to submit 3 rounds of disavow and reconsideration requests. It wasn't until the 3rd round that we disavowed nearly every pin from Pinterest. Sure enough, the manual penalty was removed. Now I can't say it was the Pinterest links but it sure a coincidence.

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