Google’s Matt Cutts: Feel Free To Use The Disavow Tool Even Without A Manual Action

google analytics linksIn a new video answer today from Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, he says that you can use the disavow tool even if you do not have a manual action.

In which cases can you use this tool even without a manual action?

(1) You tried to remove links but the webmaster linking to you will not remove the links.

(2) You think you may have been hit by negative SEO.

(3) You see links pointing to your site you do not want to be associated with.

(4) You saw a link bomb attack and are afraid it might hurt your site.

(5) You are afraid someone will submit a spam report about you.

(6) You see your rankings dropped and you think it has to do with an algorithm Google ran, i.e. Penguin algorithm.

(7) You can’t sleep at night because of some of the links you have.

But Matt said the primary use for the disavow tool is that you did bad SEO or hired a bad SEO who built bad links to your site and you can’t get those links removed, then use it. But feel free to use the tool in the cases above, even without a manual action.

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About The Author: is Search Engine Land's News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry's personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here. For more background information on Barry, see his full bio over here.

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  • http://www.clixfuel.com/ Jason Hylan

    We have a bitter ex-employee that has is spamming our domain, spinning our content and submitting to article spinning sites which has clearly affected our rankings and authority in Google. The domains our names are appearing on are privately registered, clearly made for link farming and spamming or something of that nature which makes it impossible to contact them.

    We should be able to easily submit to Google a list of the URL’s (which continue to pop up, you’d be surprised how many links you can buy for $1.99. lord help us) that are affecting our site and negatively impacting our positions. We pride ourselves on quality content and without any control over what a 3rd party can do, we are suffering.
    I appreciate that this video says go ahead and submit a disavow file, however, we should be able to work with someone at Google directly in order to expedite this process and ensure that not only is our file considered, but that it’s executed. We have submitted 5-7 files without no reply. Testing 1, 2. Testing 1,2. Is this thing on?

    What do you do in this case Matt?

  • http://topspot-official.blogspot.com/ Daniel Benny Simanjuntak

    This encourages us to do more analysis and disavow BEFORE penalties hit..

  • TJ

    You don’t get a reply for submitting a disavow file. Only for a reconsideration request. It can take months before you see if the disavow file had any affect. URLs need to be recrawled, Penguin needs to be refreshed/rerun, etc.

  • Durant Imboden

    The challenge, of course, is knowing which links to disavow. Every week, I get a new batch of links from sites that I’d never heard of until recently and don’t find very compelling, but they appear to be legitimate links, so why would I want to risk shooting myself in the foot by disavowing them?

    (Case in point: A news aggregator has linked several thousand times to one of my pages. Whenever it runs a story on [topic], my page on that topic is listed in the story’s margin as an additional resource. I’ve never had a manual penalty, so Google must not be too suspicious of those links, but then again, how do I know whether the links are helping or hurting?)

  • http://www.can-goldlink.com/ Alex CAI

    I uesd this tool in BAIDU for more than 6 monthes,of course,I think it’s very helpfull.

  • http://www.dbsit.com.au/ Mike Lowry

    Yes, Many webmasters used this Disavow tool but still not able to send reconsideration request without manual action on the site.

  • Sweta Srivastava

    hey Barry, I have a question here…..

    I have a website which is affected by panda (18th July) and penguin (22 May).. I started doing link pruning by sending emails to webmasters. usually we send three time mail to a particular website and maintain a sheet, so that i was sending three mails to each webmaster. Suddenly i received an email from hostgator that we have been marked as spam by sending so many emails. And next day they suspended the domain.
    Now i have moved the domain to other hosting platform, but my question to you is, if i will send again three mails to each website, i will again blocked by new hosting provider??? So cant i disavow my links without sending any email??
    Please reply!!!!

  • http://www.andreapernici.com Andrea Pernici

    Google is broken! Please fix it.

  • Arun Sharma

    That thing will surely decrease the google penalties and will make site owners more confident about their site as they can take proper care of it and can also remove the unwanted links which he/she does not want to link to their sites…so its a nice one..and will be surely going to help the site owners….

  • Arun Sharma

    That thing will surely decrease the google penalties and will make site owners more confident about their site as they can take proper care of it and can also remove the unwanted links which he/she does not want to link to their sites…so its a nice one..and will be surely going to help the site owners….

  • SEO Jaipur

    Google Webmaster disavow tool is not a magical tool, if you do bad SEO and negative SEO, It is fix some issues

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    That’s the worst part, the waiting. I have a client whose content is being published across a ton of spammy sites. They didn’t ask for those links, they didn’t want those links, they had nothing to do with those links—but they are stuck with them. New links keep popping up but we have no way of knowing if Google is taking their Disavow list under consideration.

  • Krystian

    I don’t know why but I have an impression that using this tool evokes a feeling of guilt, rather than feeling that its purpose is to help webmasters who were affected by the changes in the algorithms or the negative SEO. What’s missing is more clear and transparent information about how the tool and procedure actually works.

  • http://www.clixfuel.com/ Jason Hylan

    Your point is taken, however, there are many circumstances where the backlinks are clearly malicious as opposed to spammy like article spinning or link farms.

  • http://www.clixfuel.com/ Jason Hylan

    that’s part of the problem. Why not communicate? help out the website owners, work with them to remove links. Everyone is assuming that a website owner was working with an SEO that was spamming the site for quantity backlinks instead of taking the position that a business owner was trusting someone to help with their SEO. This company then took shortcuts, got their money, and now the business owner is left with a domain that has a bad link profile. The strong majority of business owners work with SEOs because they dont have the time to do SEO nor the knowledge. It’s unfortunate, but many times their domain link profile is bad and they had no clue. You are also assuming that the poor SEO techniques used actually worked and put the domain on page one, and therefore the company benefited from spammy techniques, got “busted” and are now trying to clean up the domain. this is usually not the case, imo.

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/ Jannatul Ferdous Shumi

    I am confused about 2 things, please let me know how frequently should one use the disavow tool? And if the site got no penalty, only uploading the spammy links to disvaow is enough or do I need to make a reconsideration request also?

  • Arun Sharma

    This will surely gonna help the webmasters as they can easily remove the spam links and can maintain the site health…but still I doubt may be Google will keep an eye on it as which site is using this tool quite often and may put some penalty or drop in ranking on behalf of that….so webmasters you are allowed to remove the spams but its not like that create it , enjoy it and then remove it…..so just use it for the quality purpose and focus on quality SEO….Heads up SEL for sharing this

  • Arun Sharma

    Well I think Google should maintain the reconsideration request parameter as that thing will also make webmasters to feel that whether this tool is working positively for them or not and that will also increase the transparency of the result of this tool…So I bellieve webmaster will need to make a reconsideration request and Google wont mind that too

  • http://www.clickwebdesign.com.au/ Chris Finnegan

    Creating a tool that is so vague most people aren’t sure if it works or how to use it is just another step down a curious path. It’s only necessary because Google now penalises sites for backlinks that anyone create, opening the door for negative SEO.

    This creates more overhead and confusion for many business owners and is not really in line with a “natural” system.

    What is Googles real intent here? Does every business now need to hire an SEO or learn/guess what makes a good/bad link, monitor their backlink profile and use the disavow tool?

    Couldn’t this all be avoided by simply applying zero value to “bad backlinks”?

  • http://zorgverzekeringvergelijkenstudenten.nl/ Johan Vermee

    We were also hit by an ex-intern spamming our domains, I have uploaded all disavow lists, but our rankings haven’t changed in over 2 months now, this is seriously affecting our business.

  • http://www.internalsoul.com/ Souvik Mallick

    He is a complicated fellow. Always comes up with a diplomatic answer.

  • Chris Koszo

    Sorry for your traffic losses. It’s not fun saying this, but your ex employee must be doing a pretty good job at it if they are able to hurt your site this significantly. If your site is smaller, it’s easier, of course. How long did this take? What would you say, what percentage of your total links are now spammy? Just trying to feel out what you’re working with. Are you sure it’s not a coincidence with another ranking factor?

    Before you do a reconsideration as TJ mentioned (which is the proper way to do it in most cases) that I’d check to make sure that other things haven’t been sabotaged on your site as well in case this employee had admin access. You never know. Check for x-robots tags with noindex, scan site for malware, check sitemaps, check paramater handling in GWT, all the backdoors. There’s also ways to mitigate this kind of attack in addition to the disavow.

    Let me know if you’d like me to take a look at anything, I work on stuff like this all the time. chriskoszo@gmail.com

  • Chris Koszo

    Hi Johan, see my comment for @jason. I’m seeing cases of negative SEO pop up more and more. I’m trying to figure out how to best combat it without spending all your time mulling over links (in which case, the attack was partially successful).

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