Google’s Disavow (link) Tool

Hey, there are quite a number of things you may not know about Google’s Disavow Tool. But first of all, what does the queer word ‘disavow’ stand for? Well, definition-wise, it means ‘refusing to acknowledge’ or straightaway, ‘not taking into account’. You may also consider it as a form of ‘ignoring’ something.

However, Google, sometime ago had introduced a new tool that would enable you to disavow (or ignore) links to your website. If, incidentally, you have been notified of a manual spam action that has resulted out of ‘unnatural links’ pointing to your site, this tool is supposed to address the issue.But there are many a slip between the cup and the lip, when thinking in terms of Disavowed links, some of which are listed below.

Disavowed Links Still Appear in Webmaster Tools

Many people have complained (mostly in forums) that though in practice they have disavowed hundreds of links, they still appear in their Webmaster Tool backlinks!. Theoretically speaking, after a link is disavowed, when Google starts crawling that link, an invisible nofollow tag is invariably added to the link. However, there is no official corroboration to this practice. It is treated the same way nofollow links are listed in WMT, as are the disavowed links.According to Google’s John Mueller, ”When you disavow links we will still show them as inbound links in Webmaster Tools”.

The Size Limit to Disavowed File is Simply Gargantuan

According to Aaseesh Marina, the Disavow file size limit is 2MB. Even if you calculate within modest periphery, two megabytes of text runs to some 1,000 full pages. This appears absurd since no disavow file can ever go to that extent.

Nofollowed Links Need not Be Included in Disavow File

A nofollowed link doesn’t make  PageRank, nor does it affect Google ranking. Nevertheless, here is what Google has to say about it: “You do not need to include any nofollow links ….. because essentially what happens with links that you submit as disavow, when we re-crawl them we treat them similarly to other nofollowed links”. Mueller’s comment added, “Including a nofollow link there wouldn’t be necessary”.

Disavowed Links can Jolly Well be Re-avowed

In the event of your adding a link to your disavow file due to a mistake or an error or changing your mind about disavowing any link, you free to remove the link from your file and re-upload it then and there. When Google will visit that link next time, they will infer that it no longer remains in your disavow file and so will take that link into consideration towards your PageRank once again.However, here are Mueller’s comments on links that can be re-avowed.“Links are essentially only disavowed as long as they are in the disavow file. So, if you remove them after some point, then essentially when we re-crawl and reprocess those URLs … then we will treat those as normal links again. If you remove them, then essentially you are returning them to their normal state. If they were problematic links in the past then they would be problematic links again.”Nevertheless, there is one single exception to this general rule Ifa link you re-avow was one that Google had considered unnatural, removing it from your disavow will result in imposition of penalty.

Misconceptions Galore

Surprisingly enough, many people believe that Google is crowd-sourcing the data obtained by the disavowing tool , just to use it in the form of a mass spam reporting tool, which of course is not a fact. At the same time, as you contact webmasters with a request for link removal, pat comes the reply “I removed your link. Please do not add me to your disavow file! This is an indication that site owners get pretty concerned by thinking that if you disavow their link, then you are automatically reporting their domain as spam domains to Google. Alas, how regrettable the situation often gets with Disavow Tool.

However, Mueller’s standpoint on this issue is quite sensible when he says, “When it comes to disavow link tool, at the moment we are not using that data in any way against the sites that are being disavowed because there are just so many reasons why a link might be disavowed. It might be that it’s a perfectly fine site but for some reason the ads on that site are passing PageRank and maybe the webmaster is not aware of that and that’s not something that we would say, “Oh, this is a spammy site”, because some of these ads are passing PageRank. Or maybe they have comments on a blog or on articles that they publish and people have been spamming those comments. Just because those links are in someone’s disavow file, it doesn’t mean that the content on that site is necessarily bad.”Here ‘at the moment’ is an extremely relative term that can alter the context at any moment!

Bottom Line

Apart from the fact that Google has emphasized the importance of the disavow tool to webmasters, advising them to be extra careful about its use, the search giant has literally failed to explain before them about its proper use. What’s more, when Mueller was once questioned as to why there is no link directly from WMT to the disavow tool, the veteran Google man reported replied that “Google doesn’t want webmasters to use the tool if they don’t know what they are doing.”But the question remains, who in Google knows how to use this contentious tool ???