Why to disavow links?

PageRank is used as part of Google’s opinion of the importance of a page based on the inbound links from other websites. Although PageRank is an important factor, it’s just one of the 200 that Google takes into play when determining site relevancy. Typically, a link from a site is noted as a vote of quality for a site.

Google works to ensure that any actions on third-party websites don’t negatively affect a site. Although in some scenarios, incoming links can actually sway Google’s opinion of a page or site. An example of this could be if someone was hired to create links to your site and bad links were created through link schemes or paid linking strategies, this would be against Google’s guidelines and will negatively affect Google’s opinion of that site.

It’s recommended that you remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible. If further progress can’t be made on the remaining links, you may disavow the links and essentially ask Google not to consider them when assessing the website.

Disavow Links to Remove Algorithmic Penalties

When you’ve been hit by an algorithmic penalty where a site was penalized automatically such as the Penguin update which has been related to spammy or unnatural links. This means that you have done something wrong in Google’s eyes.

You’ll need to clean up your links in order to remove that penalty, and this is where disavowing links can be crucial.
Cleaning the links and sorting out the spammy and unnatural links is step one. Step two may take several weeks as you’re waiting for the Google disavow request to be processed.

Now you’ll have to wait until Google runs its algorithm against your site to see if the problem has been corrected. Even after cleaning up your links with disavow, you will still have to wait for the update be run again before you can see the final result.

Disavow Links to Remove Manual Penalties

A manual penalty is when someone at Google has reviewed your site and came to the decision that it deserves a penalty. In almost all of these cases, it also means you would have seen a message in your Google Webmaster Tools notifying you of what has happened.

If the penalty is regarding bad links, the link disavow tool can help you eliminate these links. However, the penalty isn’t automatically removed simply because it was placed on the site manually. You’ll then have to file a reconsideration request to be approved by Google. Doing this will prompt an employee at Google to physically check on your site. They can tell that the link disavow request has been filed, and if that is enough, the manual penalty may be lifted.

It is best to do both: disavow the links and file a reconsideration request, which Google has said before.

There is one thing with manual penalties, they have expirations dates and Google reminds. It may be a matter weeks,months or even years as reported by some people that saw the penalties expire on their own.

However, doing nothing may leave you subject to another algorithmic penalty in the near future. In conclusion, if you get a manual penalty, take that as a sign that you need to fix something, or you may face a longer-term penalty down the road.

The Difficulty Of Link Removal & Recovering From Penalties

The truth is that link removal is very difficult in the best of circumstances. Recovering from a penalty is an monotonous, and very uncertain task to say the least. These are a brief summary of the steps taken when removing links:

  • Run a full backlink analysis
  • Analyze and define which links are toxic
  • Find and collect all contact information for the websites linking
  • Contact the owner of the particular site where the link needs be removedDisavow any links you’re unable to have removed
    • And again
    • And again
    • And one more time to prove you’ve done your best effort to get it removed
  • Document all progress including any links that have been removed, any websites contacted, and which links have been disavowed
  • File a reconsideration request to Google
  • Wait for a response from Google
  • Repeat, repeat, repeat until Google is satisfied


All of the steps take hours upon hours of manual work. And the real hard part is that there are no guarantees with Google. Regardless of the amount of time and work put in, having a penalty removed after just one attempt is exceedingly rare. Especially if link removal is necessary.