Google: Being Disavowed Won't Hurt Your Site

Mar 17, 2014 • 8:34 am | comments (28) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

SEO ThreatI am pretty sure we covered this before but the message is not getting out. If someone puts your site in their disavow link file, it will NOT have a negative impact on your rankings.

There are many link spammers trying to get their links removed from sites and are using very threatening emails and messages to encourage those sites to remove the links. One example is in a thread at Google Webmaster Help.

Here is part of the message:

We would like to bring your notice that failure to remove these links would require us to file a "Disavow Links" report with Google. Once we submit this report to Google, they may "flag" your site as"spammy" or otherwise if anything is not in compliance with their guidelines. The last thing we want is to have another web master go through this grief!

John Mueller from Google responds to the concern saying:

They are wrong. Having URLs from your website submitted in their disavow file will not cause any problems for your website. One might assume that they are just trying to pressure you. If the comment links they pointed to you are comment-spam that was left by them (or by someone working in their name) on your website, perhaps they are willing to help cover the work involved in cleaning their spam up?

I love how he outright calls them wrong and then goes on and suggests they pay up to remove the link they placed on their site. It is like throwing it back in their face and using a tactic the spammer would have used.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

Previous story: Google Penalized Link Networks In Spain, Italy & Germany


Adam Heaton

03/17/2014 02:17 pm

What stops me from setting up a spammy website linking to lots of different people and then ask for, lets say £20, to remove their website from my spammy site? It's all good Google changing and proposing different things, but they do not look at it from another persons perspective.

Michael Feiman

03/17/2014 02:45 pm

I have a lot of trouble buying the fact that disavowed links won't be used as spam signals. Google is a data company first and foremost. They have an algo that is based heavily on link data, they're building a massive database of spammy links as reported by webmasters, but for some reason they're not going to incorporate this data in any way? Call me a tin foil hatter, but I'm highly skeptical.

F1 Steve

03/17/2014 02:50 pm

Okay I’m just going to address the elephant in the room, if the disavow tool worked why not just tell him to disavow the link? Why suggest he pay to have it removed? (this doesn't require a boiler plate reply from Durant)


03/17/2014 04:26 pm

Because Google want to see you make an effort to clean up the spammy links you made. This is only for manual penalties which are manually reviewed. If you don't have a manual penalty you don't need to disavow.


03/17/2014 04:28 pm

Because they can just disavow you instead of paying. You might scam some people into paying but for them to need to disavow at all, they need to have a manual penalty, so you need lots of links, from lots of sites that look like they were built by the website owner.

Durant Imboden

03/17/2014 05:12 pm

isn't it possible that an unusually high number of disavowals might trigger a manual review of the frequently-disavowed site? In such a case, the disavow tool itself wouldn't trigger a penalty or other "problems for your website," but the resulting review might (depending on what was found).

confused link janitor

03/17/2014 05:26 pm

I thought Google didn't want us to pay ransoms to get links taken down. How is paying off spam hosts going to "break their spirits?"

link janitor

03/17/2014 05:29 pm

> If you don't have a manual penalty you don't need to disavow. I'm fairly sure Cutt's has gone on record saying that the Disavow Tool should be used for algorithmic penalties too.

Michael Martinez

03/17/2014 05:33 pm

Geeze. Now I kind of wish I had left all those spammy comments on my blogs. *sigh* Another missed opportunity.


03/17/2014 06:21 pm

That´s not right. If you are penguined... you need to disavow and you need to take a machete to it too.


03/17/2014 06:23 pm

You are giving out false information about the disavow tool. It needs to be used with Penguin sites that do not have a manual penalty.

Spam Cutts

03/17/2014 07:45 pm

yes, matt is quoted as saying, "use the disavow tool like a machete"

Adam Heaton

03/18/2014 10:14 am

You are both wrong, the disavow is used for any issues you have with backlinks, whether it be an algorithm based penalty or a manual penalty. If it's a manual penalty you need to provide evidence to improve your case (as you would if you were in court).

Adam Heaton

03/18/2014 10:17 am

The point I was trying to make is that by John saying "perhaps they are willing to cover the work", that means people will now think paying to have links removed would be okay. The issue I have with this is that it wasn't so long ago they said not to pay to have links removed. I'm fed up of them going back on things they've said, it is making SEO extremely difficult when the rules are changed constantly.

Adam Heaton

03/18/2014 10:18 am

I'd imagine it would bring a website to the attention of the web spam team who would then deal with it. Being disavowed might not hurt you, but that doesn't mean the team at Google won't.

Adam Heaton

03/18/2014 10:19 am

Your username couldn't be any more relevant.


03/18/2014 10:21 am

No-one is suggesting a rule change. John is saying, if they have comment spammed your site, then ask them to pay if they want the links removed. He is NOT saying that they can't disavow the links. Nothing has changed. Stop reading in to things that aren't there.


03/18/2014 10:26 am

There is no algorithmic penalty for links, other than the links themselves been discounted. Disavowing bad links if you don't have a manual penalty is a preventative measure at best. What many people see and think they have a penalty is because they rank higher BECAUSE of the spammy links, when the algorithm realises they are spammy links (or in some cases thinks they are wrongly), then it discounts those links. The drop in ranking from losing the links LOOKS like a penalty, but you don't actually have a penalty, you are just ranking naturally.

Adam Heaton

03/18/2014 12:07 pm

I never at any point said they couldn't disavow the links. What I did say was that a few months ago they said do not pay for links, now they are telling people to ask for payment for removing links. Things have changed, as they always do.

Adam Heaton

03/18/2014 12:09 pm

That is just not true at all, the only time links are discounted is when a partial link penalty is place on a domain by a member of Google's webspam team. This is proven by the fact people such as Matt and John are able to tell people they look to have been hit by penalties. This wouldn't be the case if it was ranking naturally.


03/19/2014 10:31 am

When referring to removing a manual penalty. Taking a quote out of context is hardly relevant.


03/19/2014 10:35 am

*facepalm* They aren't contradictory, nothing has changed. They said, you don't have to pay, you can just disavow just show that you tried in the documentation. John is saying if they want to pay for the links to be removed, he can suggest a fee. Hes not saying they NEED to have the links removed. The 'don't pay' is still 100% applicable. Nothing at all has changed.


03/19/2014 10:42 am

What? You are joking? Google have been discounting spammy links for years! Seriously..... discounting spammy links is one of their main weapons. Thats really really basic SEO stuff....

Rhonda Erdey

03/20/2014 02:15 pm

If you disavowed then should you do a reconsider on the site...have a site that had over 500 bad links few spam most of them were not there having a hard time getting site back up ...


03/21/2014 06:59 am

Yes, I think it's absolutely right "Having URLs from your website submitted in their disavow file will not cause any problems for your website", link spammers are sending this kind of threatening emails just to force you or else they does not know well about disavow links.


03/22/2014 10:18 am

If it can help, this is what I do when I'm contacted for link removal, depending on the case: Case 1 - The backlink was purchased as part of an advertising campaign: I will remove the link at no charge. Case 2 - The backlink was placed by me in a genuine, editorial way: I will ask for a fee to remove the link, because such request gets in the way of my freedom to manage my content the way I like. As for disavowed links, I don't care, as they count as nofollow links. My $0.02. :)


03/25/2014 06:15 pm

Name one rule that has changed. Enforcement has become much more strict. But the rules as set forth in the webmaster guidelines are still basically the same. Whining that Google changed the rules when you get caught not following them makes you look a little foolish.

Scott Andreasen

05/15/2014 02:41 pm

This Disavow tool is a good idea and should work well. The idea makes sense. It is an easy way to get your site credibility back. If a competitor wants to make your site look like spam, now you have recourse using this tool. I dig it.

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