Common Link Disavow Mistakes You need to Avoid

Disavow links tool

In a blog post a while ago about removing bad links to your site, we discussed about the impact that low quality backlinks can have on your website, and how you should remove them to avoid Penguin penalties. But these links aren't always in your control, which is why Google came up with the Link Disavow tool. It is a great tool that can be used to inform Google to disregard some inbound links completely. But a lot of people keep on making mistakes with the Disavow tool. Here are some of the most common ones, and ways to avoid them.

Recommended: 5 Things to remember before Disavowing Links

Wrong file format/content

You have to submit a file to Google that contains all the URLs you want to disavow links from. This file should only be a plain text (.txt) file. No other file format (.doc, .xls) is supported. It can only be a simple text file with a .txt extension.

Your text file should only contain a list of URLs you want to disavow, separated by line breaks. So each line must contain only one URL. A line starting with a pound (#) sign is a comment, and is ignored by Google. You can also specify a URL by typing domain: followed by the URL of the page. Here's a sample text file;

# Contacted owner of on 7/1/2012 to

# ask for link removal but got no response

# Owner of removed most links, but missed these

If your file fails to match the specified format, or if you have weird symbols and/or wrong syntax in the file, then it will be rejected, and the links will not be disavowed.

Domain disavowal

If you have a really bad backlink profile, say from a spammy forum, then it would be better to just root out the tree, rather than cutting off the individual branches. You might miss out on some URLs when trying to include each and every page linking to you from a single root domain.

To disavow a whole domain, append the domain: keyword before the URL of the domain. For example, Do not use domain disavowal for individual page URLs.

Also, make sure that you get the syntax right. After the domain: don't start the URL with an http://, or even a www. Simply start with the domain name, for example,


A lot of people tend to explain the situation they're in the form of comments in the text files they submit. That is really not necessary. No body will read those lines, so they'll just go to waste. You should write all those lines in your reconsideration request. When writing so many comment lines, there's a chance you might miss out a # sign, in which case the file will be considered as a 'bad' file.

Was this article helpful to you? How many of these mistakes were you making? Got any further questions? Please feel free to ask us in the comments below. We'll try to help. All the best :)

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