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What does Disavow File mean?

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Creating a disavow file and uploading it to Google Search Console is the first step in invalidating links to your domain. The disavow file is usually created with link audit tools like LinkResearchTools Recover or Link Detox.

After upload of the disavow file to Google, it still takes time until Google has crawled all the affected links.

It may take some time for Google to process the information you’ve uploaded. In particular, this information will be incorporated into our index as we recrawl the web and reprocess the pages that we see, which can take a number of weeks. These links will continue to be shown in the Search Console inbound links section.

To speed up the process of crawling these specific disavowed links, the tool "Link Detox Boost" by LinkResearchTools was released in 2013, which not only triggers crawls, but also measures the effect it has, i.e. if the links were actually crawled by Google bot.

Upload of the disavow file is only possible via a hidden link to the Google Search Console.

This is the Secret Link to the Google Disavow Tool.

Uploading a new disavow file will always replace all previously uploaded ones. This means it always needs to contain all the links and domains that shall be disavowed, not a delta.

That's why a central disavow database like in LinkResearchTools (LRT) is so important for consistent and reliable work.

After Google has finally crawled and processed those disavowed links, it will then no longer take those links into account for ranking the domain.

Using this method, you can disavow unwanted links that have come to breach Google’s guidelines.

This means that

  • Toxic links disavowed will help to improve rankings
  • but Good links disavowed will certainly cause a drop in rankings. Therefore a high Backlink Profile Coverage and precision in the Link Audit Work is required.

By removing links from the disavow file (Undisavow) and following "Boost", accidentally disavowed good links can be put into effect again.

The process of looking for good links that were actually disavowed, for the purpose of undisavow is also called "Disavow File Audit".

Following the style Google mentions on the above help page, entries in the form of an URL or an entire domain are used in analyzing the disavow file:

#Example of a URL
#Example for a whole domain

The full process to disavow links, therefore, is recommended as

  1. Perform a complete link audit
  2. Create a disavow file
  3. Upload the disavow file to Google Search Console
  4. Wait 48 hours
  5. Run Link Detox Boost
  6. Verify in Link Detox Boost that all links were crawled by Google. Only then the disavow command has been factored in.

The 48 hours delay is used as a "safety buffer" to give Google more than enough time to distribute the disavow file to all Googlebot crawler nodes and data centers. In the event that the disavow file is NOT present, but the Googlebot already gets pushed to crawl spammy links that could have very negative consequences.


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