Can you influence Google's search algorithm and rank higher by using disavowal tools for bad or spam links?The disavow tool is now in your Google Search Console and allows you to tell Google not to count spammy links in your link profile.
Toxic links became a huge problem after Google's Penguin algorithm update in 2012.Websites with seemingly unnatural link profiles end up hurting many businesses and brands that have dabbled in spammy link building tactics over the past few years.
SEO professionals are hesitant about the idea of having to contact the person on the other end of every potentially damaging link to ask for it to be removed.There have also been plenty of reports of extortion ("Sure, we'll take down that sketchy link, just send us a lot of $$$!")
Despite Google's initial rejection, the Denial Tool was born.
We know that unnatural links can negatively impact your search rankings.So, can you improve your search rankings by using Google's disavow tool?
Let's answer this question.
Disclaimer: Rejection Tool as a Ranking Factor
Statements about this range from "use it to protect your rankings" to "we use disavowal tools and your rankings skyrocket".
The idea is that if you get rid of spammy, link profiles that identify paid and other low-quality links, your organic search rankings will benefit directly.
Evidence of rejection tools as ranking factors
Reddit and SEO forums are full of anecdotes about the power of disavowing links.
Here are a few headlines currently on the topic:
- How to Use Google's Rejection Tool to Rank Better
- How to Effectively Disavow Links and Protect Your Organic Rankings
- Reject unnatural links and improve your rankings
Really, that's it.
There is no verifiable proof that using the Disavow Tool can tell the algorithm anything about your website.
Evidence against rejection tools as ranking factors
Google is careful to position the disavowal tool as a preventative measure against manual actions - not an integral part of the organic ranking algorithm - and says:
"If you take manual action on your site regarding unnatural links to your site, or if you think you are about to receive such manual action (because of paid links or other linking schemes that violate our quality guidelines), you should try removing the Links from other websites to yours.
If you are unable to remove these links yourself, or remove them, then you should reject URLs linking to suspicious pages or domains on your site.
But as Penguin has taught the SEO world, manual action isn’t the only weapon in Google’s link spam arsenal.
Links are a ranking factor, and disavowal tools can help you clean up that signal.
Still, it's not a ranking factor in itself, and it's only useful if links are so bad that Google can't possibly ignore it on its own.
Negative Tools as Ranking Factors: Our Verdict
Is using the disavow tool a ranking factor?
No.Using this tool will not give you any boost in search rankings.
Are links a ranking factor?
Can you positively impact organic rankings by cleaning up the links to your site?
Yes.This is a matter of reducing any potential negative effects of low quality/spam links;You are influencing existing ranking factors.
But only in certain cases, which tend to be few and far between.
If you've ever run into a manual penalty, cleaning it up will prevent your site from being blocked in Google Search.
Even outside of manual action, spammy and identifiable paid or otherwise manipulated links can negatively impact algorithms' evaluation of your link profile.
In fact, by disavowing links, you may end up doing more harm than good.
As Google's John Mueller said,
"Random links collected over the years aren't necessarily harmful, we've seen it for a long time and can ignore all those weird internet graffiti from a long time ago.
Reject links that are truly paid (or otherwise actively placed unnaturally) and don't worry about spam.
If you do use it and don't see any results, you probably didn't need it in the first place - or you need to follow up with a reconsideration request.
As Chuck Price suggested:
"The most common misconception is that denial tools don't work.This is true.For manual penalties, reject files are valid when used as a last resort.This means that a complete and well-documented link removal campaign must precede it.
Rejection documentation, coupled with a detailed reconsideration request, is a core component of successful removal of manual penalties.
Bottom line: Google will not use your use of the disavow tool as a search ranking signal.