Caution: Google Disavow Tool WARNING! Read this before disavowing links…

Are you considering using Google’s new disavow tool in hopes that it will remove your penalty? Think again. We own and operate hundreds of websites, everything from smaller niche websites to larger e-commerce websites. Through this process we’ve also tested more SEO strategies then you can even imagine. We believe strongly in testing, retesting, and employing effective strategies for obtaining rankings. We’ve done everything from purchased links to testing the effectiveness of Scrapebox spam. That means that our network of sites have seen just about every type of penalty imaginable from unnatural link warnings to algorithmic smackdowns. Through this process we’ve tested the process of Google’s new disavow tool and the results have been rather shocking, shockingly bad that is.

Don’t count on using Google’s tool to disavow links and see your rankings recover. Just disavow backlinks has yielded little to ranking improvements on any of our websites. We spent a good deal of time researching the best methods for using Google’s disavow tool as recommended by top experts and Google’s very own Matt Cutts. Here’s a small breakdown of our disavow process followed that has yet to yield any results. Keep in mind that on these domains we have not removed links nor have we attempted to remove links. For testing Google’s disavow tool we wanted to rely solely on the disavow process to test our results.

Here’s what we tested:

We started by using LRT Link Detox’s link analysis as well as had our domains analyzed by LinkDelete to determine exactly which links should be disavowed. Surprisingly LinkDetox’s reports were not as thorough as LinkDelete’s, LinkDelete displayed around 25% more links on average than with LRT tool. However the nice thing about LinkDetox’s reports is that they offer additional information that LinkDelete doesn’t display. Keep in mind that LinkDelete is a link removal service and their backlink audit is geared towards helping webmasters understand which links are damaging to their profile and which are beneficial.

After identifying the most toxic backlinks we were able to compile a list of domains to disavow. As Matt Cutts has pointed out several times Webmasters should not disavow links with a fine comb, rather disavowing the entire domain. As recommended our disavow file utilized the for all of the domains that were marked with a High Risk level or higher in LinkDetox’s report as well as those links that were in the lowest 50% in LinkDelete’s audit. We also reviewed those links marked as Moderate and submitted those that were artificially created and clearly of low quality. We wanted to use the disavow tool aggressively to determine it’s effectiveness.

Does Google’s Disavow Tool Work?

No, the tool does not work. On those domains that we have tested using the methods described above we have seen no recovery in rankings and no indication that Google has even approved our disavow file. The biggest problem with this tool is the lack of transparency on Google’s side. Was the submission processed? Was our disavow approved? If no why not? These are all important questions that need to be addressed by Google before the tool can have any sort of credibility. At this point the tool is simply too unreliable to recommend to anyone.

Those websites that we’ve utilized link removals prior to submitting any type of disavow we’ve seen the largest recoveries. It seems that Google is analyzing a backlink profile and it’s changes prior to approving a disavow submission. Is Google making sure that link removals took place before processing a disavow file? We think so. Here is a direct quote from Matt Cutts on using the disavow tool, “You have done as much work as you can to get those links off of the web, but some people don’t respond or for whatever reason you can’t get every single link taken off of the web. That’s the perfect use case to use a disavow.” To reiterate Google expects that link removal attempts occur prior to ever using the disavow. From our experience this is precisely how we have removed all of our penalties up until this point. The strategy depends entirely upon what kind of penalty our websites have had, however it always starts with a link removal campaign via LinkDelete. We then follow up and utilize the disavow tool on those links that were not removed after our LinkDelete campaign.

Do not plan on the disavow tool being effective by itself, we’ve waited well over a year on these websites tested solely with the disavow tool and have yet to see a recovery. The most common myth we hear over and over again is to submit a disavow and wait. We’ll here we are waiting well after a year on these specific sites and have seen no evidence of the disavow being accepted and no ranking recovery.