How to Remove Spam Backlinks Using Google’s Disavow Links Tool

The Google Disavow Links tool is one of the most long-awaited and talked-about features since the Penguin update hit. Before I talk about this addition from the Google webmaster team, let’s do a bit of time-travel.

Back in April (2012) when Google launched the Google Penguin update, a major update follwoing the Panda algo change, it stormed the SEO blogosphere and cleaned out link spam from private blog networks. At the same time this created a new problem, and that is negative SEO.

Guide to Google Disavow links Tool

Since Penguin was created to penalize any site using spam methods to generate backlinks and manipulate search engine rankings, people started to abuse this system by creating spam links for legitimate sites, in an effort to lower their rankings. Some of them succeeded. Many brands were affected by the negative SEO campaign, though others remained unaffected. This all led to the major problem of controlling the backlinks pointing to a site.

Bing understood the problem webmasters faced, and launched the Bing Disavow Links tool after the Penguin update.  A similar link disavow tool from Google has been highly anticipated, and today Matt Cutts announced the launch of the Google Webmaster Disavow links tool.

What is Google’s Disavow Links tool?

Let me explain this in simple terms: If you understand the concept of negative SEO, you know that negative SEO is the dark side of SEO, especially since Google has made it clear that they will penalize sites involved in any link spam.

Anyone can go to a site like Fiverr and use those bulk link-building services to generate 10,000-20,000 links within one or two-day time period, and can thus negatively affect any site’s search engine ranking. Your site may not necessarily be hurt by such link spam, but a well-planned SEO attack can completely take down a site ranking.

How can a webmaster control this link spam?

In the past there was no direct and easy way to control such link spam apart from emailing the webmaster and asking him to remove the links. However, when such links are created for the purpose of creating spam, in most of cases you will not be able to reach the webmaster, or your request will not even be considered.

Google Disavow Links tool is an attempt by Google to give power to webmasters to report and submit such links to Google, and if they were hit by negative SEO or any Penguin update, this would help them to quickly get out of it.

Technically, Google spots spam links and spam sites by default, so in most of the cases such links will not harm your site performance. However, many sites have been affected by spam links, and the number is rising with each Penguin data refresh and update.

This is what Google’s official page for Disavow Links says:

“If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress in getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.”

In short, Google will not value links from any domains which you have reported using Google’s Disavow Links tool.

How to use Google’s Disavow Links feature:

First, this feature is not for everyone to use. If your site is affected by spammy links and the issue is beyond your control, you can use this feature to get rid of the spam links. Particularly for websites that are affected by Penguin updates, you should consider using the Google Disavow Links feature right away.

The hardest part of the process is creating a list of links which you wish to disavow. You can use the Google Webmaster tool to download a list of backlinks pointing to your site. You can also use any 3rd party backlink checker tool, and my favorite is Ahrefs which not only monitors old links, but also allows you to see the list of all new links and dead links.

Google Disavow link tool

Create a text file and write one link/line which you wish to disavow. If you wish to ignore a complete domain which is sending too many spammy links to your site, you can simply use the domain: in that text file to ignore links coming from the entire domain.

Once your list is ready, simply go to Google Disavow links page here, select your domain from the dropdown, and click on Disavow links.

Disavow links

On the next page, click on Disavow links again, and it will open a pop-up.  From here you need to browse and upload the spam links text file you created in the previous step.

Click on upload and submit, and that’s it. You have successfully reported all spam links to Google!

Here is a detailed video by Matt Cutts, in which he talks about Google’s new Disavow Links feature. Prior to using this feature, I highly recommend that you watch this video.

When you want to add new links to your Disavow link text file, Google gives you an option to download and add or remove links from the existing file. To see the effect of the uploaded file, it may take up to 1-2 weeks, as Google will reindex and recrawl those pages. As Matt Cutts mentioned in the video displayed above, this is only the initial phase of this tool, and we can expect a better version of this tool in the near future.

My suggestion is to use this feature only when you know what you are doing – and know how to use it properly.  Otherwise, you would do well to let your SEO person do it for you. Getting the wrong links disavowed could lead to a drop in ranking for your site. Also, if you are among those who have received a spam link warning in Webmaster tool, you can now offer a rebirth to those of your dead sites which were penalized by the existence of link spam.

You can read a FAQ regarding the Disavow tool here.

Google should consider adding this tool in a more visual form, as it will not only help them to find more spam sites but will also give rapid access to this tool. Currently the whole process of finding links and creating a text file with links you wish to disavow, is a lot of work. Nonetheless, this feature is something every webmaster has been waiting for — and it’s finally here.

What has been your experience using Google Disavow links?

Have you used any other tools to find the spammy links pointing to your site?

If you find the information in this post useful, please share it with your friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.

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Article By
Harsh Agrawal is a blog scientist and a passionate blogger. He is blogging since 2008 & writes about Blogging, SEO, Make money online & tech. His blog, ShoutMeLoud receives 1 million Pageviews/month and have over 700K subscribers.


COMMENTs ( 26 )

  1. says

    hi Harsh. I always like to read your article. Every time when i face any problem, looking for this solution on google like this
    “How to remove low quality back links shout me loud ” . Your articles have never disappointing me.
    Thank you a Thank you so much.
    Finally I have find the solution with your helpful article

  2. says

    Hi Harsh,

    Thanks for such a useful article. We had this problem and with the help of above tool, successfully submitted them for removal.

    Thanks again.

  3. Hacerneto says

    Harsh i am regular reader of ur site..i have one problem in last one has blocked my website for spamming blog 2 times in last one month..then i send request ,waiting one day next day i received mail ” mistakenly ur website “..and restore my website.. whats my doubt is “why this happende my site ?” am not spamming anything from locked my site 2 times in last one month..(my site trsffic :daily page 8500) day they locked my site means i lost 3000 visitor..what can i do how to prevent this ? PLEASE HELP ME !!

      • says

        Hi harsh agarwal, I have a small doubdt that im working on a website called datascribelpo where i need to remove baclinks for that website . i have collected the links from webmasters and other tools . we can remove the links which are working so that we can mail the webmaster to deleate our link . but if it in the case a website is not working and its domain is expired but still we have a backlink from that website . so how can we remove this type of links any suggestion please . we can go to disvow or any other methods to link removal of those websites

  4. Arjun says

    Good post Harsh,

    But still I doubt that Google Disavow links Tool is a solution for removal of spammy links. I had worked with many webmasters but I had hardly heard from them that Google Disavow Tool worked for them.

    To this do you have any thing to say.Also I would like to know when Google say, Google is banning all the domains that are involved in Black hat SEO, then why doesn’t google completely remove all these domains from Google index.

    Dont you think this step of Google will help a lot to all the webmasters.
    I know to some extent my discussion is out of topic, do excuse for that.


  5. Qaisar Abbas says

    Thank you Harsh Agrawal, my site is linked in 3 or 4 too much spammy sites. And they are harmful too. I want to completely remove my site links from there. Please help me to remove those links. Those links does’nt even exist in my site (i.e when users come from there my site gives 404 not found error.) But I want to remove those links.
    please give me a .txt file format then i will replace the spamy domain names. and I want to know that in text file I have to put that spammy site link or backlinks urls???
    I much worried about it Please help

  6. Brian says

    Thanks for the post harsh, it helps me lot to remove my websites penalized back links by using disavow tool.

    Before reading this blog i don’t have awareness about the removing back links of our website.

  7. Satya says

    Thanks for the nice info. But how do I know which link is spam and which one should be removed through disavow tool ??

  8. says


    Recently my site got more number of back links from the sites like and updowner . Should i disavow these links ? My site was not performing well since last week.
    Please suggest.

  9. Al-Amin Kabir says

    It will be very much helpful for less technical bloggers! Google releases the tool on the right time!
    Thanks for the update Harsh. :)

  10. vicky says

    I had not heard of this tool and it seems to be useful especially for Penguin update hit sites. Still I have many doubts as you said it ay be dangerous to use if we do not require it and may affect our rankings. Is it possible that if I find spammy links which were not so then it may be penal for my site?

  11. hrmehrotra says

    i like this tool too much…….Google really made SEO more easy……… of my site is for bookmarking but i am not able to work on it so just shut it down and after penguin lots of users are sending me mail to remove their links this was really hard to work on all of those request so from now its breath of relax for me………….

  12. gaurav says

    hey bro,

    i m doing seo from last 3 years but no knowledge to promote a blog, now i m planing to start a blog, i need your help regarding keywords, like i saw many blog’s backlinks on delicious and other sites having title the same of the blog post which has no searches on search engines.
    plz help me suggesting keywords by given one of your blog’s post example
    (like which kind of keywords you are using for the above post).

    and second thing is where to promote the blog to get maximum benefit well i guess to promote a blog on forums, social bookmarking and blog directories sites but what do you think.

    waiting for your ans


    gaurav heera

  13. says

    Thanks Harsh for informing us . This is long waited tool , and many of us now relief from the pain for sending link removal request to webmaster , for most of the case we never heard from them back.

    I now have to try it for one of my blog.


  14. K Bharath says

    So the bloggers who are buying spammy links doesnt remove the links, they going to effect their sites SEO and loose rankings when ever there is a new update of Panda/Penguin. this is going to effect the spammy link builders now, a great move by Google.

  15. Anil Agarwal says

    Surely Harsh that’s a great addition. It will be easy for us to report those links that are spammy and being created against our wish. But the hard part will be identifying which links you need to point and which one you actually need to ignore. But any way now we have something you can use as a weapon to fight against spammers.

  16. Gautam Doddmani says

    a great tool no doubt though this should have been first released by google and then by bing, lol. i have not been affected by penguin update as such but will remember this method in case i have a lot of spammy links pointing to my site in the future. thanks for the info :)

  17. Radha Krishna says

    That is a very intelligent move by Google. I’ve implemented it on all my blogs. Thanks for the update Harsh.