October 18, 2012

Report Low Quality Backlinks to Your Website with Google Disavow Links Tool

Have you heard of the term "Backlinks" or "Inbound Links"? They has the same meaning. Backlinks are incoming links aka hyperlinks to your web pages. For example, if someone adds a hyperlink on their article which points to one of your blog posts, then he/she linking back to your page. Simply, it makes a connection with your blog. Usually, we mention a link in a blog, website, forum or whatever web page if it's important to the topic we have been talking or like to recommend it for visitors. Aren't we?

If many people sharing or mentioning that same link over and over again on different web pages, it convinces the page referred by that link has quite important content. So, if there are many backlinks for a post, article or web page, in this point of view, it has got a lot more attention of Internet users. Isn't it true? Bearing that thought, as search engines evolve on the web, the number of backlinks to a page has considered as an indication of popularity and importance of the content on that page. With this point of view and as Search Engine Optimization comes into play, Google has introduced PageRank, a link analysis algorithm, to measure and rank online web pages to serve Internet users better in searching the web.

Natural vs Unnatural Backlinks

As Google becomes more and more popular, Google's stuff got the attention. So PageRank. Businesses started to abuse this algorithm to show off popularity of their pages in different ways, expecting to grab attention of Internet users and bring more traffic for their sites. While users naturally linking to pages due to importance or relevance, some other parties started to assess the marketing effectiveness of this algorithm. So, online businesses started to bloom which offer paid backlinks for sites, to increase PageRank of their pages.

Someone else mentioning a link in a page is not the only way to create backlinks. We can create backlinks by sharing links on forums, submitting to article directories, while commenting if they accept links and so. But number of links is not the only factor which determines PageRank. Google has put more weight on backlinks which comes from high quality and popular sites. In other words, sites with higher PageRank. Assume you have 2 backlinks from a website with higher PageRank. Then it could be more effective on your site's PageRank instead of having 10 backlinks from a website with lower PageRank. It's one of top reasons that spammers trying to comment and leave links to their low quality sites expecting improvement on their site's PageRank.

Are We Responsible for Low Quality Backlinks?

Linking back to pages is super easy. Isn't it? If you haven't paid for backlinks, the natural backlinks you have are mostly created 'cause people loves your content. Else you have shared with someone on a forum to make use or left it with a comment. If you have been spamming around willing to get more link juice, selling or buying links, exchanging your links, submitting to lower quality directories or bookmarking sites, you are solely responsible of being affected by negative SEO due to violation of Google's quality guidelines.

But as anyone can link back to your pages, any spammy or low quality websites can link back to your pages without your knowledge. There's no restrictions for third party websites on creating backlinks to your site and you have no control over it. But Google take all of the backlinks into account when they evaluate your web pages with PageRank algorithm. Therefore you could lose your PageRank due to such spammy or low quality backlinks. It's a huge disadvantage for webmasters play by rules on the web. Eventhough you have no control over backlinks created by other parties, you had to be responsible for losing PageRank.

A Way Out for Webmasters

Now Google has introduced a way to take control of backlinks negatively affected on your PageRank created by external parties. You can suggest spammy or low quality backlinks pointing to your blog, website, forum or any web page to Google through Disavow Links tool and ask them to ignore such backlinks when they assess your site for popularity. Eventhough you have been participated in link schemes and intended to manipulate site ranking, it's your second chance to keep away from them and start building quality links. Once you send suggested low quality backlinks, Google will evaluate them and determine whether they should assess or not, when determining PageRank or popularity of your pages.

When to Use...

Remember, it's not about asking Google to remove those links from spammy or low quality sources, but suggesting to ignore assessing them when Google assess your site's backlinks. Google's Disavow Links tool is not a simple tool to play with. If you haven't been participated in link schemes to rank your pages or your site isn't being negatively affected by SEO, you wouldn't need to use this one. If you believe that low quality sites linking to your pages and they have higher impact on your site's popularity, you can make use of this tool. First off, ask owner of the low quality site to remove links pointing to your site and if it doesn't work out, then you can make use of this tool.

Prior to request or send suggestions, you have to find out whether you have low quality links pointing to your website or not. Fortunately, my friend Lisa is being discussing about backlinks lately and she has shown the way to check out backlinks pointing to a website. Take some time to review your popular backlinks and if you believe there are backlinks that may strongly affect on your site's reputation and PageRank, take a note of them and proceed.

I think the video talking about Disavow Links tool will clear out if you have more doubts about it. Let's hear what Matt Cutts has to say about this tool and proceed with steps if you have found low quality, unnatural or spammy backlinks.

Before You Go:

Once you identified spammy, low quality or artificial backlinks, you need to create a plain text file with a specific format including links before you submit them to Google. Just list all the links, line by line, as below,

If you have too many links from a single domain linking to your site, you can specify domain name instead of listing all the links. Take a look at above list of links and I'm gonna simplify it as below,

As you can see, I have specified spammysite.com domain, instead of individual links from that domain. Further, if you need to add a comment or note regarding some links you have listed, you can add them with preceding hash symbol (#) as below,

After listing all the links in a plain text document, save it and keep it to use in next steps. Make sure your file size is less than 2 MB and currently, Google accepts only one file for each site.


1. Go to Google Disavow Links page.

2. Now select your website address that has spammy or low quality backlinks, and click Disavow Links button.

3. You will see a new page specific to your selected website and click Disavow Links button over there.

4. You will prompt to upload the file containing the links that you need to disavow. Click Choose File button and select the plain text file with links you have created earlier.

5. Now click Submit button to send your request over to Google.

Note: Google may take few weeks to re-crawl and re-index the links you have disavowed and evaluate, before they becomes effective.

More Information:

* If your site rank has been affected by low quality backlinks, after submitting links to disavow and they become effective, file a reconsideration request to Google to evaluate your site with Google's quality guidelines.

Enjoy :-)

Awesome! Thanks for coming by and taking your time to read this post :) I hope you have learnt something today. Now you can share it with your friends and I'd love to hear from you too.

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Harleena Singh said...

Awesome information Mayura!

I did see Matt's video just this morning and half the things were going over my head - the coding part where he was explaining how you need to upload all those texts etc. But I was glad when he kept mentioning that if you aren't hit or affected then this isn't for you. :)

I loved the way you explained everything so well in detail that all of us can understand things now. However, how will we really know that if we are affected or not because the ranking in case of some people keeps fluctuating whenever there are updates. And just as you mentioned, we should use this tool only when are affected isn't it? Also, in-case this tool is used by a person who isn't really hit - will it affect him adversely? I know you would be the best person to answer this.

Speaking of myself, I have never used paid methods of creating backlinks and don't even know about such things. But yes, whenever any spam comment comes, which I assess after checking out their blog or site - I just put it into spam, or else if the comment is good, I remove all their links and approve it and then mail them why I removed their links so that the message is clear. I hope I am clear of all these things. :)

Thanks so much for sharing such important information with all of us. :)

Lisa Buben said...

Thanks Mayura for explaining this so more of us will be able to understand how to do this. I hope to have time this weekend to start on my retail sites. Thanks so much for an informative post on this new topic.

Jan Bierens said...

Hi Mayura,
You done it again... ;) Great post and easy to do steps and good explanation.
P.s. are you psychic?

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Harleena,

Absolutely dear :) Google encourage to use this only if your site affected negatively on Google. Good question there and glad you asked it. You know, updates such as Panda can affect on sites due to violation of Google's quality guidelines. Usually if Google found unnatural links to your site, Google Webmaster Tools notify you about it.

If you have no idea where your site was standing and don't know whether it is negatively affected or not, that's where confusion starts. Google advise not to use this tool, if you don't know what this tool does.

But as this is mainly to remove low quality backlinks, just go through your list of backlinks and focus on most linked sites. If you found a very low quality site linking to you, I mean such as a Porn or Spammy site, you can report it with this tool dear :)

Actually it doesn't matter you affected or not, still you can use this to keep spammers' eyes away from your site. So, it can be used even if you aren't hit. But you have to make sure the links you report are really low quality ones. That's why Google encourage to use it only if you hit by negative SEO, else all webmasters will tend to report linking sites by just assuming they are low quality without looking into them.

I believe you don't need to use this one Harleena. But someone can submit your links to low quality directories. So, go through your backlinks and be alert about your PageRank. Use this tool only if you need to :) Now on, you can prevent being affected by low quality backlinks.

Hope you got it dear :) Well, let me know if not.

Thanks for coming over and sharing your wonderful comment dear :) I'm really glad you asked question where others can refer too.


Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Lisa,

Oh my gosh... I just made your weekend busy? ;)

I thought of explaining more about it and why someone needs to use it dear. I think for some people, it's quite techy thing.

I was wondering how we can responsible of backlinks created by external sites and seeking for a solution. Eventually webmasters got the control of it, on Google :)

Hope you will make use of this and hey, first try to ask website owners to remove links, okay? ;) Else you are only asking Google to ignore links.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting on this topic dear :)


Harleena Singh said...

Thanks so much for the wonderful explanation Mayura - I sure got it :)

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Jan,

It's quite lengthy, isn't it? ;) I had to spend few more hours than I usually do to finalize this post mate. It's like more of my comment, than a post :D

Do I looks like a Psychic? ;) lol... Well, I'll accept that if you can prove it with a acceptable reason mate ;) Game is ON.

Thanks for coming over and commenting here Jan :)


Mayura De Silva said...

You're most welcome Harleena :)


Jeevan Jacob John said...

I probably wouldn't need it (I don't do much SEO). But, I guess the tool could be helpful, in case some spammer decided to link me and put me in a bad situation (although I would wonder why they would do that).

Thanks for the tip, Mayura ;)

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Jeevan,

Absolutely I think you don't need to mate :) We are not much obsessed with SEO. Are we? Anyway as anyone can link to you, you might wanna go through your backlinks and check most linked sites :)

It could be competition Jeevan :) Sometimes competitors try to take others down rather than offering quality products or services. Weak people hate others, nah? ;) Anyway relationships you made, are all above that.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views on this topic mate :)


Praveen Rajarao said...

I can see how we can use this tool, really cool. I think we can atleast give it a try to improve our rankings and avoid mishaps due to unnecessary backlinks.

Very good read and thanks for sharing the info.

Adrienne said...

Wow, that's really cool Mayura and once again you've gone off and taught me something new. I didn't know about this.

Listening to the sites that Matt was saying could have caused these links, I'm extremely confident that I don't have a problem with this. Thank goodness. I've never done any unhanded deeds or spammed sites for links. But I'm pretty sure that other people may have so I'll definitely be sure to pass this one along for my friends and followers to see as well.

Thank you Mayura for sharing this cool new feature with us all. You're the man!


Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Praveen,

Owh yeah, we can eliminate if any spammy or low quality website linking to our site :) As you said, it helps improve our ranking if we hit badly with SEO. Anyway if you haven't been dealing with paid links, you almost safe. But better go through list of 'em to make sure ;) It's playing with quality and quantity.

Thanks for coming over and commenting Praveen :) Appreciate your compliments mate.


Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Adrienne,

I hear ya dear and I believe ya ;) Actually, I don't think you wanna obsess with this tool as your link building strategy is almost natural. But, you may never know who links to you ;)

This is kinda second chance for spammers and webmasters who were trying to manipulate rankings of their sites, but best use intended for webmasters and bloggers who doesn't even on to link schemes, and yet affected by negative SEO.

So, you can go through your backlinks and check out most linked sites. If they are not spammy or low quality ones, forget about this tool until next time and you are ready for next PageRank update.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your views on it Adrienne :)


Lisa Buben said...

Hi Mayura, Well I made it through site #1 and didn't need to do any. Nice that you can now download latest links - love it! Thanks again!

Mayura De Silva said...

Yey... That's great Lisa :) You're welcome. It's true we don't buy backlinks, but I recommend going through backlinks as you just did.

I haven't found any points to my blog too dear. Downloading table, sample and latest links option made it easy for webmasters :) Especially latest as you said.


vmk roy said...

Hi to all

I want to ask that, how to find negative links from a list of links

So Please guide me which tools are there to find out negative links ???

Mayura De Silva said...

Hi Roy,

Actually if Google found out any unnatural links to your blog, Google Webmaster Tools notify you about that mate :) So mostly you don't wanna worry about it. That's why Google don't encourage to use it for all webmasters.

But, just to make sure, you can check out backlinks and see most linked sites of yours. Navigate to 'em and see if they are Porn or such sites. If so, report 'em via this tool. It's quite easy :)


Praveen Rajarao said...

Mayura - I recently did start dealing with some sponsored links, need to keep a regular tab on spams and see if it adversely affects my rankings. What all a blogger has to do to keep himself up and running..huh?? :-)

On another note, do you think it will be wise for you to use a commenting system which will send an update back to the commentor that there is a reply to his comment? I do not recieve any, when i came back to your site and visited some of your old posts, i saw that you actually did reply to mine...just a thought :-)

Mayura De Silva said...

Ha ha... Yeah Praveen :) Without taking the risk, no one can go so far, no? :) Cool... I'm glad you did and hope you will earn extra revenue out of it. You can add "nofollow" attribute to the link if you feel something fishy going on. 'Cause rankings not get updated frequently and if it affects, you have to wait for next update. Sponsors might feel not to invest on you.

Absolutely I think sending update back is really nice mate :) I do read replies that way and for others I go back and see any replay has been made. Sometimes I miss replies if it has been made after some time, but read it when I step in next time to that blog.

Oops... May be you might disabled comment notifications on your Disqus profile Praveen. Did you check? :) It happened to me too and I have to enable comment notifications. Usually the reply will send to inbox once you got a reply on Disqus unless you have comment notifications disabled mate :)