Disavow Backlinks


How to Disavow Backlinks

Backlinks, as we should all know by now if you have been reading our blogs, is one of the many tools Google and other search engines use to understand a website’s relevancy. Backlinks are when a website links to another website, creating the backlink. It is a very useful thing to have, especially in terms of SEO, as it can dramatically improve your website relevancy. However, if these are bad or paid for links this can really damage your SEO. Check out our article on backlinks here.

If an SEO “guru” has gone out, paid for a bunch of links on websites to link back to yours, sooner or later Google will find out, and they will punish you for those links. In some of the most recent updates having links on websites without any presence or usefulness won’t actually improve your SEO. It is important to understand that paying for backlinks is against Google’s Terms of Service, basically meaning that if they find out, your website will go down the drain in rankings.

So what do you do if you have a bunch of these links, or some awful website has kindly put a link to yours on theirs? At this point, you need to disavow those backlinks. Disavowing backlinks can be difficult, as it requires you to contact the webmasters and also ask Google themselves to disavow the links.

In this article, we will go through how to find bad links and disavow backlinks, through Google and also through contacting the webmaster.

Finding Bad Backlinks

Firstly you need to understand what websites are linking to yours. The easiest way to do this is to use a tool like Moz, SEMRush or Google Search Console. All of these services provide ways in which to see your backlinks. If you have a large number of links I recommend trying MOZ as to view each links scores can be very time-consuming. There are plenty of blogs on how to use MOZ and SEMRush, check it out here.

search console links

Finding Backlinks on Search Console

The easiest way to find links, especially if you’re a small business that doesn’t want to pay for MOZ or other tools to help find backlinks is to use Google Search Console. This is a free tool that basically helps you better optimise your website. I would recommend setting up Search Console and trying it out if you haven’t looked at it before. For set up instructions check out this video.

For finding backlinks simply log into your Search Console, go to Manuel Actions, and select Links. Within this tab you should see a few box options, the one we’re looking at is Top Linking sites. We could look deeper into finding what exact pages are linking to our sites, but for this, we just need to understand how Google views the linking website itself.

You can export the list using the export button on the top right-hand side of the page. Once you have this list use a tool like Ahref and work out which links are good and which links are bad. Build a list of bad backlinks, we will be using this list later, all you need for this is the URL of the website.

Asking Google to Disavow Backlinks

So now you should know what pesky links you want to get rid of its time to ask Google to disavow those links. This basically means that even though they are linking through to your website, they won’t count as a backlink.

Google makes this very difficult and a very scary process, this is because if this action is performed wrong, it can damage the websites ranking quite badly. If you mess this up, you could, in theory, disavow a whole bunch of good links that might have taken a long time to create. If you aren’t confident to do it yourself, get in contact with us and we’ll be more than happy to help.

Setting up the file

To ask Google to Disavow the links, you need to turn that list that we made earlier into a .txt file using Notepad for windows and Texteditor for Mac’s. When creating the file, it is important to note that there are two types of URL’s, the first being the page URL, which typically will look like https://page.co.uk/this-is-an-example. And then there is the general site URL, like https://page.co.uk. When asking Google to disavow the full website, we need to add ‘domain:’ to the start of the URL. Effectively you should have a list like below:

disavow txt file domains

If you are also looking to disavow certain pages, you simply need the full URL and do not need to add the ‘domain:’ at the start. This can be seen below:

txt file links (sites + pages)

File Comments

Now that the main bulk of the file is set up there a few things that can help you later, but they’re not completely necessary, and this is adding comments to the file. Some users tend to think that these comments are a message to Google, but to be completely honest, Google gets thousands of these requests a day, no actual human is going to look at these links. The comments are more for your notes, i.e. what the date was that you requested to disavow the link and the reason for it. To do this you simply need to add a ‘#’ to the top of the file, like below:

txt links (site + pages + comment)

Uploading to Google

Now the website file is fully set up, it is time to add it to Google, which as I mentioned before, can be a scary process. If you do have difficulties ask your SEO/Website company/person to do it on your behalf if you don’t have one get in contact with Channel Creative using the button below.

The first step is to log in to your Google account that verified that you are the owner of the domain. The domain is already verified if you have set up your Google Search Console, check out this link if you didn’t see it earlier. To make sure no one stumbles upon the part of Search Console by accident you can’t access the section you need through the regular console, you need to use the button below:


You’ll then see this page:

disavow homepage

Select the domain you want to use, for this example we will use the channelcreative.co.uk domain. Once you’ve selected the red button ‘Disavow Link’ you’ll see this page:

disavow warning

Once you’ve plucked up enough courage to select the disavow button again you’ll be shown yet another warning and place that you can upload your .txt file. This is the txt file we set up earlier, double check that everything on that file is exactly what you want it to be, any issues here can have damaging effects on the websites backlinks.

disavow backlinks ending

Once you’ve uploaded the file and hit submit it is now Googles turn to disavow those links so they no longer harm your SEO standings.

Request From Webmaster

This is a short section and is pretty self-explanatory, but you need to use a combination of asking the webmaster from the linking domain and also use Google’s tool to disavow the links.

The easiest way to do this is to get in contact with the webmaster through an email (if the site has one). Asking them to remove the link, be kind, because they can just as easily keep the link, their site is already awfully ranked, so they most likely don’t care where their site links.

If you can’t get in contact or they won’t do it, disavowing the link through Google’s tool will work just fine.

Disavowing Links Conclusion

Disavowing links can be time consuming and dangerous. It is important to feel confident in what you’re doing before undertaking this task. Read the article again whilst performing the task to make sure that you don’t mess up. Also, double checking is always a good way to make sure they’re are no mistakes.

If you do need help with disavowing links or just need general SEO help, get in contact with Channel Creative below.