Can You Test The Google Disavow Tool?

Jul 3, 2013 • 9:05 am | comments (54) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

google disavow testingI am surprised this topic has not come up more often in the SEO forums - the topic of being able to test the Google Disavow Tool but uploading a file, waiting, removing links, waiting and repeating this process over and over again.

A Google Webmaster Help thread kind of aludes to it but not fully.

The issue webmasters are having is that they are disavowing a ton and waiting and not noticing an increase in rankings. They are then scratching their heads and asking, did I disavow links that were actually helping my site rank? So they go back in and remove some of the domains and URLs from the disavow tool and wait again.

You repeat this process over and over again until you see any ranking benefit. If you remove a URL and your rankings drop, add it back. Of course, doing this can take forever.

Google isn't dumb, they know SEOs and webmasters will test this.

In fact, at SMX Advanced, I believe Matt Cutts brought it up and said that is why they have a delay when processing the disavow tool. At least, that is one reason. It helps keep webmasters on their toes. They want webmasters to disavow links they think are not valuable and not links they think are just hurting them.

So they delay the process of the disavow to make things a bit foggy.

Forum discussion at Google Webmaster Help.

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07/03/2013 02:26 pm

As foggy as Google's core mission statement.

Stephane Brault

07/03/2013 02:54 pm

Basically, they give you everything you need to drive your online business into the ground but not the opposite unless you buy ads.

Alexander Hemedinger

07/03/2013 03:12 pm


Crest Media

07/03/2013 03:22 pm

If we had to try & read between the lines of Matt's SMX comments, we think what he's saying is that webmasters & SEOs need to know pretty definitively which links 'should be' (as opposed to 'could be') disavowed, start there, and wait to see what happens before attempting to disavow more links that fall into the 'could be disavow-able' category (i.e.: links giving neutral or indeterminant benefit). This isn't Google being "foggy" or pushing Webmasters to buy ads, its Google being as cautious & deliberate about disavow reports as they want Webmasters to be.

Fede Einhorn

07/03/2013 07:06 pm

Hitting the thumb up multiple times doesn't work, otherwise I'll spend the entire day doing it, this one deserves it.


07/03/2013 07:18 pm

Well, they did start off as a fog machine vendor after all.


07/03/2013 11:03 pm

I thought the point of building a website was to offer value to users. Why are we wasting our time with this crap? How does this benefit our users or our site(s)? I can spend months on this crap or months on improving my site and building other new sites. Guess which route I've decided to go? I've had it with Panda and with all these crap tools. Ever since focusing on these algo changes I have let my site go, lost a lot of my own time and have lost traffic from sites like Bing and Yahoo. I have decided to just focus on my site and my users which I did before getting slapped by Google. If Google rewards me for it, fine. If not, screw them! I know that the type of site I operate is just not the type of site that Google likes because it's sort of in a vertical that Google is trying to dominate. For this reason, no matter what I do, I will continue getting screwed. But trust me, I won't shut down my business because of them. Those Google employees are a bunch of a holes for telling us to focus on the disavow tool. Of course they do it because it benefits their business and not ours - which makes them even bigger a holes.

Graham Ginsberg

07/03/2013 11:49 pm

Off topic but so you know Godaddy isn't being a good guy and isn't offering discounts on .com domains as promised. $2.99 for a .com per their page which is 3 per account and now they're saying its expired, but retailmenot doesn't indicate as such and the Godaddy page is still up. Duh, makes me mad false and misleading yadda yadda

Graham Ginsberg

07/03/2013 11:51 pm

On the topic of disavow, just disavow your competition or why stop there, disavow the entire web, or maybe Google will think thats spamming the tool lol

Unpaid Truther

07/04/2013 04:14 am

>> *In fact, at SMX Advanced, I believe Matt Cutts brought it up and said that is why they have a delay when processing the disavow tool.* Who is that moron to still believe Mutt Cutts and Barry? You have zero credibility, saying Matt Cutts said so doesn't make it so. He's a paid liar.

Gregory Lancaster

07/04/2013 04:25 am

you cannot disavow more than 2k domain names. since they swear up and down they want to help you block spam, but prevent any webmaster from completely blocking all spam, I think it's safe to call bs. The tool does nothing.


07/04/2013 07:33 am

I love that somehow the fact that a website has >2k spammy links to disavow is somehow Google's fault


07/04/2013 07:58 am

Did they tell us to focus on it? All of the focus has been from SEO blogs. Hell, they only built the tool because everyone was banging on about how much they wanted it!

Gregory Lancaster

07/04/2013 08:13 am

its not but google made negative seo a reality, so expecting a solution is not unreasonable. the only reason someone can sell 4 million spammy links as a nseo package is googles algo. nice comment though smartass, you'll be singing a different tune when you get spammed.

Stephen Moyers

07/04/2013 09:19 am

I just need to confirm that is it really true that only we can disavow 2k links? Really this is disgusting if this is a fact. What about the webmasters who are having more than 5k spammy links if they have built bunch of links in past..

Sourabh Rana

07/04/2013 11:08 am

VERY TRUE Words from barry ..... Google needs to speed up the recovery process or communication process via google webmaster tools so site owners will wait for the results.

Neeraj Pandey

07/04/2013 11:12 am

I still see a lot of confusion about disavow links , I think google should come forward to clear these confusions because this is the tool of google which the webmasters are using. About disavow, If After Penguin update google finds 50 links spammy of x website and penalizes the website for this then why google does not decrease it's PAGE RANK. About how long a person should wait after disavowing the links , why not anyone is seeing any difference how all the webmasters are noticing the same ranking despite disvowing in x number.

sunil kumar

07/04/2013 11:35 am

put your all links from where you are not getting ranked then Disavow tool will not give the priority of these links. put those link with in .txt file and upload on


07/04/2013 12:09 pm

So you must have missed the machete comment as well as the "disavow tool can help" comment from Matt Cutts? You do realize that when a Google representative tells webmasters that something can help them rank, webmasters will obsess over it? But that's cool, people like you always seem to popup out of no where running to the aid of Google... So you feel it's cool for Google to give webmasters false hope instead of telling them the truth? Not only kill a webmaster's traffic, their dreams and hard work, but also waste days, weeks or even months of their time? For what? For fun? To protect the precious algo? Because you're just plain evil? What? You know sometimes it's worst to let people believe lies than it is to spread them.

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 12:35 pm

Yep, I figured Google dah would limit domains in this tool. Ironic to think that there is a limit on how many spam sites can be reported. Spamming the spam tool?? Beyond 2k must be left to someone else to report. How does one prioritize which 2k spammy backlink selling/trading sites to report? Do we take all URL's that include 'matt-cutts' in them?

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 12:39 pm

IN Google webmaster tools, it could easily state which URL's are problematic. But this would work against Google's paranoia about SEO's gaming the system. Google has a paranoia problem, not a spam problem

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 12:42 pm

Godaddy responded to my email "We apologize for any confusion or inconvenience this promotion has caused. On our side, it does state the code is valid for 1 use per account or email address. The fine print of the link you included does indeed state good for 3 uses. As a one time courtesy, if you purchase 2 more domains we can then refund the difference to honor this for you. Just reply to this once you've purchased the two additional domain names."

Marie Haynes

07/04/2013 12:43 pm

I have disavowed more than 2K links on several occasions. There is a size limit to the tool but I haven't reached it yet.

Marie Haynes

07/04/2013 12:44 pm

How would disavowing your competition harm them? You'd simply be nofollowing any links that come from their site to yours.

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 12:46 pm

Marie Haynes, I made a pointless statement to yet another pointless offering by Google

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 12:48 pm

They say the world is round, but I walk and I walk and it still appears flat??? In response to Marie Haynes "I have disavowed more than 2K links on several occasions. There is a size limit to the tool but I haven't reached it yet."


07/04/2013 03:16 pm

You are a real shit head Graham.

Gregory Lancaster

07/04/2013 03:17 pm

Marie, I did not say LINKS. I said you cannot disavow more than 2k DOMAINS. ex. Domain: No more than 2k of those. I personally opt for mass blocking of domains since my NSEO attack comes from mostly .ru and .eu domains. However since I have more than 2k of them, I cannot upload the file anymore.

Gregory Lancaster

07/04/2013 03:18 pm

I said 2k domains, not links.


07/04/2013 03:18 pm

How stupid are you? You don't think google has a spam problem? You are truly a stupid human being.

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 03:25 pm

How stupid am I Gregory Lancaster? You asking me how stupid I am? Then you say I am stupid? Whaaat What is it Gregory Lancaster? Do you want to know how stupid I am or do you want me to believe your opinion on how stupid I am? Either way, I surely am not as stupid as Gregory Lancaster who asks the person how stupid they are, then, without receiving an answer, proceeds to guess on their level of stupidity. Now that is classy stupid. Gregory Lancaster wrote: How stupid are you? You don't think google has a spam problem? You are truly a stupid human being.

Marie Haynes

07/04/2013 03:26 pm

Strange. I have uploaded disavows with over 3000 domains without a problem.

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 03:28 pm

Gregory Lancaster, at least I don't watch male porn. Look back to 6 months ago in your posts. Ah yes, those male porn stars.... Gregory Lancaster • 6 months ago "I remember watching this guy in some old school pornos. I guess "

Graham Ginsberg

07/04/2013 03:39 pm

If anyone has more than 2k links, its most likely a spam site and needs to be devalued anyway. Nobody has 2k friends in America.


07/05/2013 12:52 am

I signed up for Discuss just so I can respond to you Graham. I agree with the other poster. Your initial comment was idiotic, and the subsequent one even more so. For the record, Google is not paranoid. Only a blind, deaf and stupid person will miss how the unscrupulous SEO snakeoil salesmen continue their efforts in trying to game the system, instead of just focusing on good content. I applaud what Google is doing. Otherwise, the internet will be filled with MFA sites with low value content.

Graham Ginsberg

07/05/2013 01:47 am

Toby wrote: "I signed up for Discuss just so I can respond to you Graham" I am humbled by you honoring me. Happy 4th of July and wishing all Americans a reminder that we're supposed to be the land of the free and the brave Many crazy people don't realize they're crazy. It takes others, more 'normal' people or corporations, to remind them that they're crazy and to seek help. Inevitably, its wasted breath and taken as an insult, but it doesn't change the fact that people and corporations go through changes and sometimes lose control of themselves. So it is with our ailing Google. No longer is Google content at being just a 'good search engine', Google now aims for the stars to please its stock holders and reap the profits while ignoring quality that once made them a great search engine. Definition of paranoia: psychotic disorder characterized by delusions of persecution or grandeur, often strenuously defended with apparent logic and reason. Extreme, irrational distrust of others. I predict Toby will think my humbleness is in jest. He will call me names like 'buffoon' because he is lonely this 4th of July. Lets all lite a sparkler for Toby.


07/05/2013 02:00 am

If you were truly humble, you'd retract the initial idiotic comment instead of posturing here like a buffoon. And what qualities are Google ignoring? Allowing people like you to get top SERP rank by meta and link spamming? And does your dictionary define 'ailing' as being the most comprehensive and intuitive search algorithm in history, with the ability to consign spam, low quality and MFA sites to the sandbox?

Alan Smith

07/05/2013 05:44 am

We will have to use disavow tool very smartly when it requires :)

Justin Clark

07/05/2013 09:01 am

barry i never said against you but it seems you blocked me.. :)

Barry Schwartz

07/05/2013 09:53 am

Blocked you? No. This comment worked.

Justin Clark

07/05/2013 10:00 am

I gave a comment on the below post but i am unable to see it... Guest: How stupid are you? You don't think google has a spam problem? You are truly a stupid human being.

Barry Schwartz

07/05/2013 10:01 am

Disqus probably blocked it automatically.

Justin Clark

07/05/2013 10:04 am

OK thanks barry.!

Graham Ginsberg

07/05/2013 12:28 pm

Disqus doesn't tolerate slander

Nick Ker

07/05/2013 02:32 pm

"I have decided to just focus on my site and my users which I did before getting slapped by Google." If you were doing only that, you probably would not have been slapped.

Nick Ker

07/05/2013 02:42 pm

I've uploaded as many as 3500 domains. The tool did choke on the larger lists at first, though. I had to dig through the list to find a few domains that it just wouldn't accept. It didn't like some that were actually IP addresses, and some of the weirder .ru and .cz domains that were really long like


07/06/2013 10:24 am

I have bad and good news for all who were submitting disavow file many times. one of my sites was hit by Penguin, I submitted disavow file many times, trying to show Google that I was trying to clean my backlink profile. 2 weeks ago, I decided to remove the disavow file and guess what? now I see better ranking and better traffic. I want to think that I was disavowing good links, but the reality is that all the disavowed links were done by link exchange, spamm comments and paid articles. My conclusion is: don't spend time disavowing links if you don't receive a manual penalty in GWT.

Stephen Moyers

07/06/2013 11:50 am

One of my friend in search marketing industry has admitted that he has disavowed 4000 domains (I repeat, unique domains not links) and the disavow tool has accepted it without giving any error.. Strange! Now I am wondering that Google will consider all that domains or not because I am also aware about the file size limit (which is txt file) not the number of domains for disavow. Please reply. Stephen.

Neeraj Pandey

07/07/2013 03:37 pm

Yeah Anonymous , As seroundtable says , I agree that I have not seen anyone coming up in ranking using disavow after this penguin update .Many are putting links on txt file then waiting for the change in ranking and if they are not seeing they again changing the sheet . they are damn confused about what to do with it. Now , as this is new to google to find out spammy links, it should have reduced giving value to those links and the pr of a website should have decreased but I have not seen anyone crying for PR. Google has not said anywhere about how long a person should wait after disavowing his links for changes, I think they should come forward for this. also one more change now what I see is that India websites are ranking in Canada region and canada websites are down , also domain cluster is still on even in front page if I see I see 5 results of single website Why does not google understand that this is really very bad user experience and if I dont want to go on any particular website no matter how many number of this website pages you show I will not go on that website .

Gregory Lancaster

07/07/2013 11:18 pm

Nick - Excellent post, and I thank you for sharing this. That is EXACTLY what the issue was for me. I had to remove some oddly formatted domains (which I missed previously) as well as two IP domains, and the list uploaded just fine. If not for you sharing this I likely never would have thought to go back over my list and search for anything formatted oddly, since the list is exported directly from MSEO I expected it to work out of box. Just uploaded my disavow list of 3,124 domains from a NSEO attack. Happy I can continue to at least attempt to save my site.

Gregory Lancaster

07/09/2013 11:20 pm

that is interesting. I have thought about this myself, and even considered deleting my disavow list. Can anyone else share their experiences with adding disavow lists vs removing a disavow list?


07/10/2013 05:40 am

You should try Greg, there is nothing to lose, worst scenario, you submit again the disavow file, anyway the main KWS of your site are still penalized :(


07/10/2013 05:44 am

Barry, With your help, hundreds of webmasters can try this and all of us can get good conclusions. I personally will try it in more websites and share the impact.

Kizi 10

07/17/2013 02:26 am

I think it's exactly as you say this issue is not given more often in the SEO forums. I think there are a few of my friends are interested in this issue and I will share with them.

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