Google’s Matt Cutts On Common Disavow Link Tool Mistakes

disavow links penguinGoogle’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, posted a new video discussing some of the more common mistakes when using the disavow tool.

Below are the six most common mistakes. Note the first one is by far the most common mistake of them all.

(1) The file you upload should be a regular text file only. No syntax or fonts or sorting should be done in this file. People often upload Microsoft Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and so on. Just upload a text (TXT) file.

(2) Typically, the first attempt by users are to be very specific and fine-tuned with their individual URLs. Instead use a domain: command and disavow the whole site. That is often better, Matt said.

(3) Wrong syntax is another common issue; use the right syntax within the TXT file.

(4) Do not write the story on why you are disavowing in the disavow text file. Do that instead in the reconsideration request, not in the text file.

(5) With that, when you do add comments to your disavow tool properly use comment out tags. People often forget to uncomment out or comment out and it causes syntax errors. It may be better off not to comment at all in the file or limit your commenting, Matt said.

(6) The disavow is not the be all and end all. It will not cure all your URLs. Clean up your links outside of the disavow tool as well, don’t just take the shortcut approach.

Here is the video:

Related Topics: Channel: Search Marketing | Google: Disavow Links Tool


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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  • Tasha

    Point number 6 is interesting.. Matt Cutts has accepted that Disavow is not sufficient tool to cleanup the links. We should also focus to manual clean up of unnatural links.

  • Bayut

    Exactly what I’ve been thinking..

  • Clickacig

    We were one of the sites that got affected by the recent penguin update. As a result we wanted to simply use google’s disavow tool. Which leads me to ask, is there any way or tool(maybe) that helps in determining which links bring up or pull down the rankings? If so, can you tell me? Oh, and great post by the way – simple, brief and yet very useful. :)

    Thanks in advance,
    Mark J

  • Tassilo

    Hi Mark, I am currently developing a tool, where you can upload your WMT links. The tool then identifies links from domains which were hit by Penguin themselves. These could be toxic domains. Send me an email and I’ll keep you updated on the progress of the tool.

  • Clickacig

    Very nice… Is this tool for free Tassilo? Anyways, my email is jenkinsmark01@gmail. Looking forward to hearing from you.. Thanks! :)

  • Tassilo

    In the beta phase there will be free trials available. I will contact you once the beta is ready.
    Any features you would like to see? Sorting linking domains by specific criteria etc.
    So long -Tassilo

  • Sterling Okura

    Hi Susanna. Yeah, the notes thing is a bit confusing. He says not to explain the story of WHY you want the link disavowed in the notes (ie that site is filled with viagra links, or looks like a negative SEO attack by a competitor).

    But they do encourage you to show that you made an effort to manually remove the links by adding that info to notes.

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